Should Major League Baseball go to an East-West realignment?

MLB logosWould Major League Baseball benefit from an East-West realignment? Would it gain more interest from American sports fans and sustain it?

The steroids controversy hasn’t singularly pushed baseball behind others in popularity, it’s also the format issues. The great game of baseball, the only one played without a clock to count down time left, must consider tinkering with aspects of its game in order to enhance interest among sports fans (I wrote these solutions for baseball’s season, playoffs about one year ago).

With 30 teams to consider geographically, the split to an East-West realignment would place 15 teams in the East and 15 in the West. That kind of split just seems to make sense. Get all the teams who are close to each other to play each other more times to determine playoff seeding from each league, East and West.

Would there be Interleague play still? I suppose so, but it would not be absolutely necessary. If the schedule permits, rotating the home team every other year, East-West Interleague play could be viable. Such a system works for the NBA and NHL.

The most important variable would be to get the realignment established and get fans vested in the regional rivalries.

What about the designated hitter rule? How would that be handled? Frankly, that rule is the least of MLB’s worries, but, of course, it does need to be addressed.

There are several ways to skin this cat. One suggestion is to allow teams to determine before every home game whether they want to use the rule or not. That would create an additional home-field advantage.

The visiting team wouldn’t know until right before the game starts whether the rule will be used. Strategies would include determining whether the opposing pitcher is any good at the plate or whether the home pitcher can swing the bat well.

How great would it be to see the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates playing the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox on a regular basis each season? Surely, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s would sell more tickets if they were playing each other more often. Plus, baseball would save on travel costs.

Here’s the breakdown of how the realignment could look:

East: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers.

West: Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.

It’s not a perfect realignment. Ideally, it would be best to leave the Chicago teams in the East, but bringing Chicago to the West would be the best solution numbers-wise.

This format would really be at its best during the playoffs. There would be matchups leading to a World Series that would pit teams in the wild-card rounds through the League Championship Series that are closer together, making it more emotional for fans.

It seems to have worked pretty well for the NBA. The most intriguing element for the NBA is its finals, when the East-West format is on stage for the world to see. The World Series would have that opportunity in this new alignment as well.

Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com



About Howard M Alperin

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Comments

  1. Swap the White Sox and the Brewers and you’ve got yourself a deal.

  2. Please, Bud Selig floated this 15 years ago, and thankfully met too much resistance. This isn’t NBA or NHL. In this format ESPN will show six weekends of Yankees/Mets to go along with six weekends of Yankees/Red Sox. The ‘Western Conference’ would be buried…

  3. I would be all for this. I hate having to stay up late for 10:30 games when the Yankees are on the West coast. They don’t end until like 2AM our time, which is just too late. Plus, this way the west teams wouldn’t have to play baseball at 10:00 on Saturday and Sunday mornings when they have 1:05 games on the East coast. We want the Astros and Cubs though. Need some more weak teams other than Miami and Toronto.

  4. I’ve got an idea – how about two divisions – one called the American League other called the National League.

  5. Time zones do matter. All those central teams (KC, St. Louis, Chicago teams) going out west, bad idea. I’m sure Rangers and Astro’s fans can relate. As a Royal’s fan I hate this idea. Way too late. Realignment? Yes, absolutely. How about a Beer League: St. Louis, Cubs, White Sox, Royals and the Brewers?

  6. Tony Geinzer says:

    I would prefer the Brewers and The Nationals Going AL because A.) Franchise History and B.) City History. And conversely, I’d prefer the Astros return to the NL, which won’t make them no better, but, it’d be better than 120 Losses. And let’s iron out “Integrity of the Postseason” in Baseball like NHL and NBA, where every game, instead of being ornate, up until the World Series, which will stay 7, be single elimination and there would be no Wildcard other than the Division Wildcard and there’d not be a drug out miniseries. And I would say, instead of a Token President’s Trophy, I want to see the All Star Game Winner’s League host Game 1 of the World Series still. But, beyond that, NO Interleague.

  7. All teams in the “Eastern” division with one lonely exception are in the Eastern Time Zone, while the “Western” division teams span 3 time zones. Bad, bad idea. It will take much more than the travel budget savings for the Eastern teams to justify killing the AL/NL tradition.

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