Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Re-alignment...a good idea that MLB is going to screw up.

15 teams in each league? Good.
No divisions? Bad.

Last week it leaked that Major League Baseball was considering proposing re-alignment during the upcoming collective bargaining talks. The plan is to take a team from the National League (likely the D-Backs or Astros) and move that team to the American League.

But on top of that, the proposal is to eliminate divisions and to have the top 4 or 5 teams in each league go into the playoffs.

MLB fixes one problem and creates an even worse one. Having equal number of teams in each league (and each division) would potentially fix the unfair scheduling that has plagued MLB since interleague play was introduced. Finally it would be possible to set up a schedule that would be fair and equal between each team inside of a division.

But then if you remove the divisions, you create the same problem all over again, except worse. There aren't enough games in the season to accommodate creating and equal and fair schedule for every team in your league unless you increase to a 174 game schedule (6 games verses every team in baseball). Even if the schedule was expanded, it destroys the logic in having the two leagues. The reason divisions were created was to ensure that rivalries were preserved as the league expanded and that true, tighter pennant races were created by teams that were known well by each other.

In the end, I don't want to possibly see the Cubs going down to the final series of the season possibly having to play the Royals to win the division because they already played their 6 games against the Cardinals in April and May.

The only way to make this work is to do some sort of NFL type of scheduling when dealing with interleague play that pits the better teams from previous season against each other. Don't ask me to explain that to would take too long, but, this would allow for more games to be played against teams in your own league.

But for a more sane approach, once you have balanced divisions and balanced leagues, you can create a fair schedule for every team in each division. Quite simply it looks like this:

-18 games against each team in your division (72 games)
-6 games against each team in the other two divisions in your league (60 games)
-6 games against each team in one of the divisions in the other league (30 games)

162 games…simple!

Each year a division in one league plays the division in the other league, so the NL East would play the AL West and the NL Central would play the AL East and the NL West would play the AL Central…and this would be rotated through every 3 years.

This isn’t rocket science. Yes, you have to eliminate the rule that interleague play can only happen for a few weeks during the season and you would eliminate the requirement for interleague rivalry games (like the Cubs having to play the White Sox every year). But we would finally have a schedule that was fair. No more of this bullshit where ever single year the Cardinals get to beat up on the Royals while the Cubs have to play the White Sox. No more situations where the Cubs have a series against the Yankees while the Cardinals get to play the Orioles instead.

So kudos to Major League Baseball for finally floating the idea of balancing out the leagues, but shame on them for screwing it up by eliminating the divisions floating the idea of eliminating divisions.

Major League Baseball just doesn't get it.