Article first published as MLB News: Realignment of Divisions Could Come Soon on Blogcritics.
The thought of Major League Baseball's 28 teams staying the way they are is probably appealing to some people, but there is definitely a history of change in baseball that has seen teams switch leagues, inter-league games, and an extra round of playoffs. It can be said the more things change the more they stay the same, but it looks like Commissioner Bud Selig has an eye on radical change for baseball.
I heard this conversation on the radio today about the possibility of teams switching divisions and the leagues merging, and that sounded a lot like what happened in football (when the AFL joined the NFL). I did a little searching on the Internet, and quickly came up with an article from the New York Daily News by Bill Madden, a writer whom I've followed a long time and respect a great deal.
Madden's take on it seems pretty scary if you're a New York Mets fan like I am. Can you imagine the Mets being in the same division as the Red Sox, Yankees, and Phillies? This new order could make sense in a "regional" way, but it would really be the biggest change to hit baseball since the designated hitter.
Speaking of which, according to Madden the DH is on its way out. That means all those guys who are planning on winding up their careers as a team's DH better start taking balls at a different position. American League pitchers should be on notice too; they should start picking up those bats and learn how to use them again.
If you look at the chart of the new baseball divisions based on regional alignment, you can see that the Northeast Division would be a tough place to be. The concept of two leagues and two different sets of rules would come to an end. Besides the DH that would also include strike zones, game schedules, and number of men on the rosters. Can you imagine a scenario if a team could have 27-30 active players? This certainly would increase the number of pitchers and catchers a team would be able to carry.
I don't know about you, but I remember the good old days of two divisions in each league (my father remembers when there was one division). Things seemed simple then; East played West and then there was the World Series. This new alignment means probably more playoff games, and that no doubt appeals to baseball owners and executives because that means more revenue.
Madden goes on to say that a team would play every team in all four new divisions twice (once at home and once on the road) each season. That means six games against every team in the league every year. I know it makes sense if you do the math (27 x 6 = 162 games), but doesn't that mean teams are going to do a heck of a lot more traveling?
How will baseball fans and the players react to this news? In the end it probably won't matter what anyone thinks if baseball's power elite have made the call already. It looks like we will have to face the inevitable, which probably includes a World Series being played around Thanksgiving, so we can say "Pass the cranberry sauce" as we watch the players run the bases in the snow. Isn't change lovely?
Image Credit: Madden Daily News