While the local and national media have been distracted by the Mets and Dodgers financial woes and have used those stories to project all sorts of cockamamie schemes, the commissioner has been on a different wavelength altogether and barely anyone has noticed. Whether or not you believe Bud Selig, here’s what he said last week about contraction in an interview with Chris Russo:
“The only thing I can tell you about contraction is we haven’t discussed it at all,” he said. “I’m not sure where that came from. We have not discussed contraction at all.”
What Selig has been talking about is realignment. Selig hasn’t divulged how broad his realignment vision is, and it’s likely that too many owners are comfortable with the current divisional alignments that major changes would be approved. He has put out some interesting concepts such as “floating realignment” in which have-not teams could move from to/from the AL East in order to get more stadium revenue from the unbalanced schedule’s greater number of intradivision games. That concept never got off the ground, but here may be some wiggle room for realignment that could come from a very simple numbers argument. Feast your eyes on the following table, whose data comes from NY Times resident geek Paul Robbins.
The path of each team can be seen on Robbins’ Google Maps mashup. Certainly no owner, front office, manager or player is going to get sympathy from fans about the pain that comes with having to travel frequently on plush charter jets. Still, there’s something to the large disparity in travel miles from top to bottom. As you might expect, many of the West Coast teams accrued the highest mileage. But why did the A’s have the third lowest, and the Padres the fifth lowest? Why did the centrally located Cubs finish fourth highest while their crosstown rivals hit sixth lowest? There’s no single factor to blame as scheduling is as much an art as a science. However, you can rest assured that Selig has an idea what part of the solution is: realignment.
The big four major sports don’t realign their leagues on a whim. In every case over the last 20 years, realignment has come with a league expansion event. Changes based on mere geographical “friendliness” do not occur frequently. Before 1994, the NL West would’ve been better named “NL Other” due to having two teams in the Eastern time zone (Atlanta, Cincinnati) and another in the Central (Houston). The leagues/teams have absorbed highly variable travel costs as the price of doing business.
- 2004 – NBA changes from four to six divisions. Adds Charlotte Bobcats to Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division. Moves New Orleans Hornets (previously Charlotte) to Western Conference’s Southwest Division.
- 2000 – NFL changes from six to eight divisions after adding 32nd team, Houston Texans. Conferences’ Central divisions become North; South divisions are added.
- 1998 – NHL changes from four to six divisions after the Hartford Whalers (Northeast Division) move to North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes (Southeast Division). Newly formed Southeast Division also contains two recent expansion franchises.
- 1998 – MLB expands to 30 teams, adding Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks. Milwaukee Brewers switch from American League to National League, leaving the AL with 14 teams and the NL 16 teams.
- 1995 – NHL approves Quebec Nordiques (Northeast) move to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche (Pacific Division). Both conferences have 13 teams.
- 1994 – MLB changes from four to six divisions. Both leagues’ West divisions have four teams each, the respective Central and East divisions have five teams each.
Many other relocations, such as the Minnesota North Stars’ move to Dallas or the Vancouver Grizzlies’ move to Memphis did not automatically cause realignment. The Washington Nationals naturally stayed in the NL East after they moved from Montreal. Divisional status quo also happened for the Houston Oilers-turned-Tennessee Oilers/Titans and the Cleveland Browns-turned-Baltimore Ravens.
The Texas Rangers would love nothing more than to leave the AL West and cut down the roughly 20 West Coast 9 PM CT start times their fans watching in the Metroplex have to endure every season. Unfortunately for the Rangers, no changes will happen just to placate one franchise. If two teams resist, then there’s a movement – especially if those two teams are the Cubs and Cardinals. In 1992 Fay Vincent initially pushed for a 1992 makeover in which the Cubs and Cards would be placed in the NL West, whereas the Braves and Reds moved to the East. It would seem unlikely that reverting to a two league, four division setup would gain traction, as there simply aren’t enough teams in the Pacific and Mountain time zones (eight team total) to deal with the problematic time shifts for the Central-based teams who would be stuck in the West.
Selig frequently says that he tinkers with realignment concepts frequently while he’s traveling, much as you or I would. The conservative nature of The Lodge makes such tinkering more a mental exercise than anything, but it’s good to hear that he’s giving it some attention. The biggest problem Selig may be facing isn’t cumulative travel or TV time shifts. Rather, it may be the sheer number of teams. Prior to expansion in the 90’s and interleague play, the balanced schedule offered easy, predictable scheduling. Every team in your league was guaranteed to come twice every year. Once you add teams and reduce intraleague games by introducing interleague play, it becomes practically impossible to maintain a balanced schedule.
It becomes more difficult once additional interleague series are added, since those will compete with intraleague or intradivision play for space within a 162-game season. Note that I’ve only allowed for two interleague series in this scenario. 14 teams is easy to work with, which is one reason why some have advocated for contracting two teams. It’s not a good reason given the big picture, but it’s not hard to see why it might be considered favorable – at least from a logistical standpoint. With 16 teams in 3 divisions, that oddball 6-team division will always complicate matters. MLB could add two expansion teams to make a 32-team league as I’ve wished for in the past, but there is absolutely no internal interest in expansion at this point so it’s a nonstarter. Nevertheless, 30 teams is extremely awkward.
There may be one admittedly strange way to smooth out scheduling and travel. That would be to keep the American League at 14 teams over 3 divisions while making the National League 4 divisions of 4 teams each.
A variant of the NL distribution has 12 intradivision games per team, which allows a bump vs. the “NL South” to 9 games, achieving parity with the other divisions and some semblance of a balanced schedule, if that is a goal. I wouldn’t expect the National League to do this because, as the more conservative of the two leagues, it just doesn’t seem like they’d be in a rush to introduce another pennant and an additional two teams to the playoff format. If the American League were doing this in concert it might make more sense. Since the AL isn’t expanding, the NL isn’t going to change. Regardless, the seemingly endless number of possibilities for realignment sheds light on how difficult it is to plan for MLB’s short and long term. For the fans’ sake, I hope that Selig can get the owners to at least honestly discuss the pros and cons of different scenarios. Surely there are practical ways to make realignment work for owners, players, and fans alike.
P.S. One thing you can’t expect from Selig and the owners: some form of a promotion/relegation system like the one used in European soccer. The delta of franchise values between MLB and AAA teams is much too vast for any owner to take such a risk. Many teams that have been relegated have never made it back and have even become insolvent, a phenomenon known in British soccer as entering administration.
ML, I haven’t read this yet but I’m excited to dig in when I get some time. Thanks for providing such great content. It’s always a treat when I see a new post.
This excerpt from the Baltimore Sun article intrigues me:
Arizona was placed in the NL West, but the Devil Rays were stuck in the AL West, a mere 3,077 miles and three times zones away from division rival Seattle.
I wasn’t a baseball fan in 1997, so I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but I had prior to today never heard anything about the Devil Rays having been originally placed in the AL West.
In talking about realignment with my friends, I came up with an idea like that geographic distribution, but having the NL be on the west, and the AL on the east; as more historic NL teams would be in the west and more historic AL teams would be in the east. I don’t see why teams wouldn’t go for this. Think how attendance and tv ratings would be for teams that get to play more games against their city or state rivals.
Another option that I’ve floated is moving a NL team back to the AL, and then have one interleague series at all times, rather than grouping them all together at the same time. Although, I don’t know if that would really be beneficial for scheduling and I prefer the geographic distribution.
Now that I’ve read through…my favorite part of this piece is your geographic realignment. It solves a ton of problems:
1. Reduces travel costs for everyone. That saves money, which should be appealing, and the MLBPA should like the shorter flights.
2. Larger divisions (4 divisions with 7-8 teams) ensures that a mediocre team never makes the playoffs. This is a good thing. What I don’t like about your 4 x 4 National League is that we’d certainly have an 82-win division champ every year or two, a la the NFL. Two division winners and two wild cards, or even three wild cards, if Selig gets his way and adds playoff berths. Again, this is a good thing to me – it doesn’t water down the playoffs to have the best 10 teams in MLB make it. It DOES water down the playoffs to have a bad division champion in a four-team division.
3. The geographic realignment also solves the TV problem you spoke of. There isn’t one team that is two times away from its peers in any of the divisions. Beautiful.
Now, how to placate the traditionalists, who despise the blending of AL and NL?
I love this idea (I read it from either Tango or David Pinto, can’t remember which):
Allow the home team in every game to decide whether or not the DH will be used. This introduces a bit of strategy, which we all enjoy, and potentially adds a bit more of a home-field advantage, which is a good thing – MLB’s home-field advantage is too low relative to the other major sports. Fans typically want to see the home team win.
I like the strategy part. If you’re throwing Zambrano or Mike Hampton at home, you’re probably going to go sans-DH, because your pitching is a much better hitter than the opposition. As fans, we’d suffer through less crappy-hitting pitcher AB’s but still get to appreciate the best hitting pitchers.
The MLBPA would like this, because every team could justify paying money for a DH in the offseason. Every team knows that, if they want to, they’ll get to use their DH at least 81 times, so they can justify the investment in paying Jermaine Dye $2-3M. That’s 16 more old sluggers who can get paid a little bit more.
the battle over the Designated Hitter Rule, would make some that realignment very difficult.
How would it be difficult? Some teams will move to the NL and lose it (like the Brewers did). Some teams will move to the AL and gain the DH. In the end there won’t be any player positions lost.
What about guys like LaRussa who don’t like the DH?
Haven’t read through this whole thing but one chart shows the Giants in the American League. I believe Magowan once said the Giants owners “bought the rights to National League baseball in the Bay Area.” I don’t see the Giants making any move to the American League
What about swapping one of Colorado, Arizona or San Diego to the AL West, and moving one of the central teams (Houston?) to the NL West, and making it 5 teams for each division, and 1 interleague series all year round.
David, LaRussa didn’t seem to have problem using the DH in Chicago or Oakland
re: Zonis’ idea…
I’ve thought that this is the best solution for a long time now. Move Houston to AL West. Paired with the Rangers, the travel requirements for both teams would be reduced. We’d be left with the follwing divisions, and one interleague series every day throughout the season…
AL East – NY, Bos, TB, Balt, Tor
AL Central – Min, Chi Sox, Cle, KC, Detroit
AL West – Oakland, Anaheim, Sea, Tex, Hou
NL East – Atl, Mets, Wash, Philly, Miami
NL Central – Cubs, Reds, StL, Milwaukee, Pit
NL West – LA, SD, Col, Arizona. frisco
I’m also in favor of calling the Angels “Anaheim” and the Marlins “Miami”, but thats an other story.
Well regardless if realignment happens or not (hopefully it doesn’t), the Marlins will be the Miami Marlins less than a year from today.
I am generally happy with the current alignment. In the unlikely event that the Athletics and Rays get eliminated, I would move the Marlins to the American League East, the Pirates to the National League East, and the Rockies to the American League West.
@ hecanfoos: If you want to call the Angels the “Anaheim Angels,” then I am sure you would have no problem with the Texas Rangers being renamed the “Arlington Rangers.”
This is crazy talk! I’m glad Selig is thinking about such things with another Labor dispute in the future,What a Moron!! I still have a problem with Selig moving Milwaukee to the NL..He and others actually believe the Brewers are a National League team!! I guess he thinks the Brewers are the Braves!
Why should fans care if these teams have a heavy travel schedule. if their travel expenses are cut , it still won’t put money in my pocket or yours, so who cares. Merging the leagues would be idiotic!Throwing all that history away.
while I’m at it.. If they are going to have interleague games at all, then play a different division every year. Rotate each division, one every 3 years, None of this WSox/Cubs …. Yankees/Mets every year!!!!!They should play each other every 3rd year!!Otherwise it is not fair.Teams are battling for WC spots, but have different interleague schedules. The NFL rotates the non conference schedule and has a logical formula.
…except that the Rangers are named after the law enforcement agency.
ML, the supposedly more conservative ownership of the National League is irrelevant, since the two leagues were abolished as separate legal entities back in the mid-1990s. There are no decisions on realignment, contraction, playing rules, or anything else that are taken by just the American League owners or National League owners.
The legal status of the NL and AL today is that of conferences within a single league, MLB. Basically like the AFC and NFC within the NFL. Even the DH is no longer an “American League Rule”. There is only one rulebook for MLB, and it provides that the DH is to be used in games played in AL parks. So realigning the National League would be a decision for all 30 owners to take, not just the NL owners.
@simon94022 – I don’t mean the NL as an entity, I mean its constituent teams. Now that the Braves/Reds/Astros are out of the West they’d heavily resist any efforts to go back. As would the Cubs and Cards. As you mention in your followup comment, if enough owners don’t like whatever Selig puts out it won’t go anywhere. And the big market, high revenue owners’ opinions might even carry more weight in the vetting process.
As for multiple trips, it’s unavoidable. MLB is not going to saddle a team with a 12-game, 4-city trip to start the season. Especially if it’s up north. With nearly 20 teams at or east of the Mississippi, there’s not much they can do.
By the way, Selig has been floating the NBA-style 4 division geographic realignment since 1997, with the two eastern divisions being labelled “American League” and the two western divisions “National League”. The problem has been that at least half the team owners hate the idea. And under the MLB Constitutions, realignment is in some ways more difficult that contraction or territorial rights issues. Each team has an absolute veto over any realignment that will move it into a different division. So the vast majority of teams could favor a certain realignment but if it requires, say, Arizona going to the AL and the D’Backs refuse, the plan is dead.
The travel problems could be dramatically lessened if MLB went to 15 teams in each league, with 6 divisions of 5 teams. Then you could develop a schedule that made mathematical and logistical sense, instead of one where the A’s fly to Toronto and Minnesota on one trip but save Detroit and Cleveland for a different trip later in the year.
More on the 15 team per league concept…
18 games vs each division rival = 72 games
8 games vs each league, non divisional team = 80 games
10 interleague games = 10 games
Considering that some players are barely holding up by October, I’m sure the MLBPA would want a hefty portion of the playoff revenues if/when they’re expanded. Just my own take, the MLB season is too long. I know this would NEVER happen, but I’d like to see the season dropped to 100 games. Baseball is at its best when there’s a sense of urgency and a shorter season would definitely induce some of that. Overall, I’m completely welcoming of a league redistribution based on geography. I also wouldn’t mind seeing the Giants come over to the AL. I have quite a few friends who insist that they could never like AL baseball just because of the DH. I’d love to watch them back-peddle on that one.
Briggs, instead of shortening the regular season, how about shortening Spring Training?
@Zonis: I’d be down with shortening SP as well, though I’d still like to see a short regular season because those are the games that competitively count.
I don’t see any type of realignment getting very much traction. It’s inevitable that there would be perceived winners and losers. And there would be enough “losers” to prevent it.
Which is good, because I would hate to see it happen. Nothing wrong with the current system. Fans wouldn’t see any benefit from realignment. It would only piss off traditionalists.
And interleague games should be reduced, not increased. Too much already. And the Brewers should be an AL team.
And another thing: if baseball ever goes to 16 team playoffs, like the NBA and NHL, I will quit watching. One of the things that makes baseball great is that only 8 teams make it, and that the regular season has meaning.
Here is how to do it:
Get rid of the Designated hitter, expand rosters to 27 players to make the MLBPA happy about losing the Designated Hitter, Expand to Portland (Largest City w/o an MLB Team) and Brooklyn (Baseball did just fine with 3 MLB teams in NY for a while)
2 leagues 4 divisions:
Oakland, Seattle, Portland, Arizona
Minnesota, Chicago (White Sox), Detroit, Milwaukee
Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland
NY Yankees, NY Mets, NY Brooklyn, Boston
LA Dodgers, LA Angels, SF Giants, San Diego
Colorado, Texas, Houston, Kansas City
Miami, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Washington
East – Phillies, Pirates, Blue Jays, Orioles
4 division winners make the playoffs, no more wild card. Pennant Races mean something again, and the markets in each division are similar and we don’t have to worry about a salary cap. Get it done!
I’ll assume you meant metro area, as Portland as a city is only 29th largest, and there are 12 larger cities without teams. Anyway, putting a team in Portland it just going create another small market team. It is a smaller MSA than Pittsburgh. The largest metro area without a team is Mexico City. Although if we’re gonna stick with the US/Canada, then the largest metro area is Montréal. The largest metro area in the US without a team is Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA (it is actually the only MSA in the top 20 without a team).
But really the best place would be somewhere in the New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA CSA. You can divide that CSA in three (for Yankees, Mets, and one additional team) and each part would only be slightly smaller than the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA CSA (which of course would really need to be divided in two, so NY would really have double the population per team as the bay area). Of course population isn’t the only statistic important to supporting a team, but I think it’s quite obvious that NY can support a 3rd team in all facets. It’s just a matter of finding a suitable site to build a stadium (which I think the successful start of construction on Barclays arena in Brooklyn shows that it is possible to find sites) and convincing the Yankees and Mets to let them do it.
James… really? San Diego is a similar sized market to LA?
The largest city without an MLB team is San Antonio, foilowed by San Jose. Any attempt to put another team back in Brooklyn would run into the same problemWalter O’Malley had in the 1950s” – where to put it. And, the Yankee$ and Mets wouldn’t take kindly to another team shoehorned into NYC. They probably wouldn’t even let one in NJ>
The largest city without an MLB team is San Antonio, foilowed by San Jose. Any attempt to put another team back in Brooklyn would run into the same problem Walter O’Malley had in the 1950s” – where to put it. And, the Yankee$ and Mets wouldn’t take kindly to another team shoehorned into NYC. They probably wouldn’t even let one in NJ>
I think in the long run it would be good to go to 32 teams (maybe add to Charlotte, Portland, or San Antonio?)- but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
The way I would do it is to have an AL West, AL East, NL West, and NL East with 8 teams in each division. I personally like the novelty of inter-league play so I would keep the leagues intact. The top team from each division would get into the playoffs and then there would be two wild cards in each conference going to the teams in either division with the next highest records (AL and NL) keeping the same playoff format.
As for scheduling I would have each team play division opponents four times (3 game series) each (84 games), play the other divisions (same conference) opponents two times each (48 games) and then rotate playing 8 teams from the other conference (24 games). This would shrink the season down to 156, which I think is close enough to the 162 now.
I haven’t really thought about which teams would be in which conference/division, but I would try to keep it close to what we have now
No more Interleague Play. The A’s have to face the World Champs while the Rangers harvest wins from the Astros. When divisions are decided by only a few games, the competitive imbalance caused by Interleague Play isn’t worth it.
On a side note, I’ve never understood why the DH gets so much hate. I like that it makes a pitcher’s job more challenging. If I’m given the choice of whether I want to see Adam Dunn or Mark Buehrle hit, I’m gonna choose Mark Bue… I mean Adam Dunn hit. DH’s also opens the door to having some of those “all glove, no bat” defensive wizzes popping up from time to time.
A pitcher is a specialist. He shouldn’t be expected to hit. I’ll offer columnist Glenn Dickey’s reasoning: You wouldn’t keep a .130-hitting great-fielding shortstop but you would keep a .130-hitting great pitcher. Because fielders are expected to have some skill with the bat but pitchers are not. So why make them bat at all? Why not pull four lucky fans out of the stands to hit for the pitcher if the object is to have a non-MLB-class hitter getting up every three innings in the National League? Tim LIncecum has a lifetime batting average of .128. Based on purist reasoning that pitchers should be expected to hit, shouldn’t the Giants cut him?
That argument still doesn’t show the necessity of a DH. Why not just take out the pitchers spot in the batting order and only have 8 guys hit? For that matter, most catchers are terrible hitters, so why do they still have to hit? If you’re gonna DH for somebody, why not just have a completely different lineup for offense and defense like they do in the NFL? It is the most popular sport in the US after all…
I would LOVE to see the following happen:
Expansion into Portland and Mexico (or San Antonio); followed by the following alignment:
AL Pacific – Seattle, Oakland, Anaheim, San Diego
AL West – Colorado, Texas, Kansas City, Minnesota
AL East – ChiSox, Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto
AL Atlantic – Tampa, Baltimore, NY Yankees, Boston
NL Pacific – Portland, San Fran, Los Angeles, Arizona
NL West – Mexico (San Antonio), Houston, St Louis, Milwaukee
NL East – ChiCubs, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Atlanta
NL Atlantic – Miami, Washington, NY Mets, Philadelphia
Therefore, 4 division winners make the playoffs and battle it out for the League Champion. You can add some Wild Card winners, much like it works now, everyone in the pot that is not a division winner.
Now, I know LEAGUE offices were eliminated back in the 90’s. But, in my opinion, that has always the beauty of baseball, it is not restricted to one league defining everything. It also creates an inner rivalry, for the most part…state, region, city, etc. With that in mind I listed the divisions above, with four outliers: Colorado, Atlanta, Toronto, Mexico.
That’s another thing, I would really like to see more international representation, such as adding a Mexican team.
The, much like DJames posted above, you make the season 156 games long, which allows for an 8 team or more playoff schedule that won’t run into November.
It saves on travel (to some point) and pins each team more against the teams they are actually needing to beat to win the division.
re: 8 guys hitting. Interesting idea. I suppose it would be argued that players might end up spending too much time on the base paths if they have to hit just about every other inning. And what happens to all time stats when guys are suddenly getting up 5 X a game instead of 4? As far as catchers being terrible hitters, who was the guy who won the game last night for the A’s with a home run? Oh that’s right – catcher Kurt Suzuki. I wouldn’t call Buster Posey or Johnny Bench lousy hitters. And I could probably think of 100 other examples…I don’t think 9 separate hitters and DHs would fly. Fans expect their position players to bat. They don’t expect much in the batter’s box from the pitcher.
I didn’t say all catchers, I said most. If you look at fantasy rankings for last year, there was only one catcher in the top 100 players. And only four in the top 200. There are always the rare few catchers that are excellent hitters, but the majority are only marginal hitters at best. Same can be said for some pitchers. Did you know the Dodgers used to use Orel Hershiser as a pinch hitter?
“Fans expect their position players to bat”
Some fans expect their pitchers to bat too. Even if they don’t expect much from them, it’s still an intrinsic element of the NL game… But as has been shown by fans accepting the DH, why would you doubt that fans could eventually accept having a different set of players for offense and defense? (Note: I’m not saying I think this is a great idea by any means, just putting this out there for discussion)
Hell, as long as we’re playing fantasy worlds…
What the heck, here’s my crazy scheme.
REMINDER: This is a LOOONNNNGGG range plan! 2030 to 2040. I will gladly and intelligently discuss pros, cons, alternates, suggestions, etc.
PLEASE don’t say cliché things about talent dilution, etc: by the time anything like this would happen, I’m sure there will be enough players.
[B]2012-2015[/B] (Post-Selig era)
Add Portland to the AL West
*They were runners-up in the Expo’s sweepstakes. Adds another team in the pacific NW.
Add Montreal to the AL East
*Montreal got a raw deal. VERY bad ownership, a bad stadium, etc. It would take a very rich owner, and the new MLB commish should apologize to the baseball fans there for the way it ended last time (See MN Wild/Northstars)
Also, placing Montreal in the AL creates a natural rivalry with Toronto; it’s the Canadian New York vs Boston.
**Pittsburg moves to the NL East
Add an AL East team in North Carolina (Raleigh-Durham is my pick)
*Creates an AL counterpart to the Braves
Add Vancouver to the AL West
*Finishes off the three major Canadian cities. Should be large enough to support a team
*Move Toronto to AL Central to make room for Carolina team – one Canadian team per AL division
Add teams to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. They could be NL or AL if other AL teams would agree to switch leagues. By this time, they should have the population necessary for support.
Ideally (for me anyway – this is my dream), Texas would move to the NL Central to finally play their games in the right time zone and start a rivalry with Houston.
[B]Leaving us with something like this:[/B]
AL East: Montreal, Boston, NY Yankees, Baltimore, Carolina, and Tampa Bay
AL Central: Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago WS, Minnesota, and Kansas City
AL West: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Jose (Oakland), LA Angels, and Salt Lake
NL East: Pittsburg, Philly, NY Mets, Washington, Atlanta, and Miami
NL Central: Texas, Houston, Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, and St Louis
NL West: San Francisco, LA Dodgers, San Diego, Colorado, Las Vegas, and Arizona
Remember, this is for the year 2030 and beyond
leave the A’s in the AL West.
I just want to move one team from the NL to the AL (likely Houston to the AL West) to even up all the divisions. Always have one interleague series instead of playing them all at the same time.
Nathan’s one team realignment is the only one that’s really got much chance of happening, and I agree it would be great for baseball. The trouble so far has been that the Rockies, DBacks and Astros all refuse to move to the American League. Houston cites their 50 year NL history, while AZ and Colorado want to keep the Dodgers and Giants as marquee division rivals to goose attendance. Arizona actually had a special provision in the MLB Constitutions that allowed the Commissioner to move them to the AL without their consent at any time before 2002. Jerry Colangelo whined about how it would crush his franchise value, though, so Selig did not exercise that right. Now it’s too late, and each of the 30 teams has a veto right.
On expansion, the size of the “city” is totally irrelevant. What matters is the size of the market, which MLB doesn’t necessarily define the same way as the Census Bureau does. For example, Washington and Baltimore are two very distinct and separate media markets, even though the Census Bureau lumps them together as a single MSA. The Bay Area, including Santa Clara County, is basically one media market despite the fact that the South Bay is considered a separate MSA by Census. It’s the total market that generates revenue, so MSAs and population of the main city don’t really matter at all.
Mexico will be considered for a franchise only when it becomes a First World country, where drug barons and kidnapping rings no longer run rampant, the rule of law is established, and the national government has full control of its territory. Honestly, there is almost ZERO chance of any major sport expanding or relocating to Mexico in the lifetime of anybody reading this.
Small markets in the US like San Antonio, Portland or Charlotte are also unlikely to get teams soon even if they put together serious stadium proposals, because their TV rights are controlled by other clubs, and the Nationals relocation set a precedent that those other clubs will get a significant payoff for allowing a new team into one of their broadcast territories. Besides, a team in any of these places will just become the next Tampa Bay, and MLB doesn’t need that.
There was a study done about 5 years ago that indicated that the way to generate the most revenue with two more teams would be to make each of NY and LA a 3 team market. Territorial Rights unfortunately makes that a dead issue. I think we’ll be stuck on 30 teams for many years to come.
Simon, the “significant payoff” for TV Rights was a regional sports network to broadcast both the Orioles and Nationals games. The Orioles were given controlling interest. There is no reason something similar couldn’t happen in any of the markets you mention. An alternative would be for the expansion teams to play on already existing networks controlled by the existing teams (if they exist, I am not sure).
Also, guaranteed franchise value/revenue streams (not really a check). for the Orioles were included… But i am not sure those would be required in any of the markets you mention. For one, the distance from Portland to Seattle and San Antonio to Houston are not really comparable to DC/Baltimore.
If I had to handicap it, I’d say Portland and San Antonio would have a leg up in the media market game if only for the fact that Charlotte is included in the Orioles/Nationals TV market that was just divided.
Unless cloning of extra body parts and internal organs really takes off, I agree on the Mexico thing. No way, no how in my life expectancy.
I like the one team realignment idea with each league having 3 divisions of 5 teams. I also like hecanfoos’ game breakdown: 18 games vs each division rival = 72 games, 8 games vs each league, non divisional team = 80 games, 10 interleague games = 10 games. But with the resistance teams feel to changing leagues, the best thing to do would be to move the Brewers back into the AL where they started. Put them in the Central, move KC into the AL West and call it good.