Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Realignment Revisted

I've written a few confused posts about realignment in Baseball. Seems like everyone has an idea they think is the best way to move things around. What seems certain is that there will be some sort of realignment built into the next CBA with the players.

Current conventional wisdom seems to indicate a scaled back approach that would see the Astros move from the NL Central to the AL West. This wouldn't so much solve the "Texas Problem" as give the Rangers at least some division games to play in their own time-zone. It's probably the fairest schedule in a division system, in that every team in a division will play the same schedule. That doesn't happen today because of the way the inter-league schedule plays out with 14 and 16 team leagues. Of course it still leaves you with an apples-to-oranges wild card scenario. How can you compare teams from different divisions who play such radically different schedules based on their season record?

You can't, but you ease that problem by adding a wild card team in each league and making them play a one-game playoff to make the rest of the postseason.

As something of a purist myself, I actually like the idea of unalignment. Just do away with divisions entirely and take the top 4-6 teams from each league. Baseball didn't have divisions until 1969. It seems like a return to the way it should be with each team competing directly with each other. Detractors say no team wants to hang 6th Place banner after making the playoffs. Does anyone really want to hang a Wild Card banner? Maybe teams shouldn't be hanging a banner just because they finish in the top third of the game. Besides, that's just a marketing issue. Call the top teams the "Super Six" or some B.S. and teams can hang a "2012 NL Super Six" banner in their park if they really want to.

Other more radical options propose going to an NBA format. Do away with the leagues all together and divide up divisions by region. I don't think that would work really. For one, as much as the Cubs and White Sox might sell out their 6 inter-league games a year, I don't think any Chicago sports fan really wants to see them play 18 times a year. A little separation is a good thing. Plus, the whole point of a two-team city or region is so that every team in baseball visits that area every year. I suppose you might be able to retain that in an NBA format, but it would be difficult. You'd also eliminate the possibility of a local rivalry World Series. No more Bay Bridge, Subway, Red-Line, or whatever you'd call it in LA Series.

In any case, knowing Baseball, they'll do something, and it will probably be pretty dumb.

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