Every year when baseball season approaches, I think about how I would love to realign the Major League Baseball.
A few years ago they threatened to do this. Contract some underperforming teams and move some others around. I was all for this. The expansion of the 90s was unnecessary. All it did was essentially add four minor league teams to the league. It thinned the pitching pool and pushed some very average players into some very above average salaries.
I say MLB is four teams heavy right now. I say let’s do something about that. Since this is my blog I can do that.
The first thing we are going to do is contract the four teams with the lowest overall attendance in 2007. Say good-bye to the Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Yes, I realize that three of those teams have won World Series. Yes, I realize the Marlins did it in 2003. I don’t care. Nobody is going to see these teams so their history doesn’t matter in the process. Their accomplishments are logged in the record books and in Cooperstown. They aren’t drawing fans. That’s what this business is about. Sometimes, traditional businesses fail. These have. They are gone.
The next step in our process is to relocate the next two lowest attended teams. That means we’re moving the Washington Nationals and the Oakland A’s. Billy Beane can still Moneyball in his new home of Las Vegas. That’s right, its now the Las Vegas A’s. At least until they rename the team and make a mint on new merchandise. Likewise, the travelling sideshow that is the Washington Nationals (and before that the Montreal Expos) is on the road again. Their new home will be San Antonio, Texas. I expect they will be renamed the Alamos or some such. Again, new merchandise sails will soar.
I honestly wanted to contract or move Toronto and Colorado, taking baseball out of Canada and the thin air of Denver, but both of these teams ranked well above my 6 team threshold. As it turns out, the 6 teams we’ve eliminated or moved all drew under 2 million fans last year. I don’t know if this is significant, but I think it is.
Now that we’ve spilt the blood, its time to step back further from tradition and really realign the league. My plan is to create regional divisions based on geography rather than history. It will cut down on the daily grind when the teams are in those long stretches of games against their own divisions early and late in the season.
First of all, the remaining California teams are all in one division. We’ll call it the California Division. That one was simple.
Nearly as simple was our Western Division. That one will contain Seattle, Colorado, Arizona and the recently relocated Las Vegas A’s (I’m personally rooting for the Gamblers and a personal services contract for Pete Rose).
Next, we’ve got the Southern Division. It will contain our three Texas teams and the Atlanta Braves. Weren’t you paying attention? That’s the Astros, Rangers, Braves and the relocated San Antonio Nationals (I’m hoping they use the current minor league team name “The Missions” and keep the puffy taco mascot).
Just like that we’re half way to our new league.
Up next is the Eastern Division. It’s largely the old AL East with the addition of the New York Mets. That’s right, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Mets. Now there are two teams for the Boston fans to abhor.
In order to make our regional magic work, we’re going to have to have a couple of five team divisions. It works. I promise. Just watch.
Up next is the newly created Great Lakes Division. This will be Milwaukee, Minnesota, Detroit, and both Chicago teams. And yes, I know that Toronto is on one of the Great Lakes. Trust me, this works better.
Our final division will be called the Mid-American Division. It will be Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Cleveland and St. Louis. These guys will probably have the most travel time, but even then it won’t be that bad.
So now we have six divisions. How to we allocate them to leagues? We do it by placing each division in the league where the majority of their teams played in 2007.
So, the American League gets the Eastern, Western and Great Lakes Divisions.
The National League will be made up of the California, Southern and Mid-American Divisions.
Yes, that means there is an odd number of teams in each league. You know what that means? That means there will be on inter-league game just about every night. I don’t care if you don’t like it. It’s my scenario.
How would that play out you may ask? Well, based solely on the 2007 won/loss records, which includes games played against teams that, in our scenario, no longer exist, here’s how the final standings would look.
American League East
Boston Red Sox 96-66
New York Yankees 94-68
New York Mets 88-74
Toronto Blue Jays 83-79
American League Great Lakes
Detroit Tigers 88-74
Chicago Cubs 85-77
Milwaukee Brewers 83-79
Minnesota Twins 79-83
Chicago White Sox 72-90
American League West
Arizona Diamondbacks 90-72
Colorado Rockies 89-73
Seattle Mariners 88-74
Las Vegas A’s 76-86
National League California
Los Angeles Angels 94-68
San Diego Padres 89-73
Los Angeles Dodgers 82-80
San Francisco Giants 71-91
National League South
Atlanta Braves 84-78
Texas Rangers 75-87
Houston Astros 73-89
San Antonio Nationals 73-89
National League Mid-America
Cleveland Indians 96-66
Philadelphia Phillies 89-73
St. Louis Cardinals 78-84
Cincinnati Reds 72-90
Baltimore Orioles 69-93
So the playoff teams in the newly contracted and aligned American League would be the Red Sox, Tigers and Diamondbacks. The Yankees would be the wild card team.
In the National League, we’d have the Angels, Braves and Indians. The wild card team would be the winner of a one game playoff between Philadelphia and San Diego.
I don’t have the time or inclination to try to simulate the playoff under this scenario, but I bet they’d be good.
It looks different. It feels different. It is different.
Baseball purists will stroke. John is probably one of them. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.
This is my scenario.
This is my wish.