Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guest Post: MLB Realignment - Five scenarios that can create balance

This is a guest post submitted by Jeff Herbst. Jeff has had a passion for sports ever since he could first walk and enjoys writing in his spare time. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that creates world-class maple wood bats and other styles of wood bats for amateur and professional ball players around the world.

Major League Baseball has enjoyed some quiet times in recent years, with the MLBPA and the owners appearing to play nice and get along. While there has been some noise regarding performance enhancing drugs and ownership issues (LA Dodgers, NY Mets), all is quiet on the baseball front.

However, one issue that is currently on the table is realignment. While MLB and the player’s union have had some discussions regarding realignment, nothing is yet set in stone. MLB commissioner Bud Selig has made no secret of his desire to see realignment rather quickly.

Here are five realignment scenarios that can help to create balance and also help create excitement as well.

1. Move the Houston Astros from the NL Central to the AL West

This appears to be the most likely scenario, although with MLB as of yet not approving potential owner Jim Crane, this too could be put on the back burner.

Moving Houston to the AL West would not only even off every division in each league to five teams apiece, but would also help to create a natural Texas rivalry between the Astros and Rangers in the AL West.

2. Have Tampa Bay and Washington switch divisions to create regional rivalry along with Astros move to AL West

MLB, much like other professional sports, love their regional rivalries. Moving the Tampa Bay Rays to the NL East would create a natural rivalry with the Florida Marlins, and also would create a regional three-way rivalry with the Atlanta Braves. The move would also cut down on additional travel time with the weighted schedule.

Ditto with the Washington Nationals. A natural rivalry would be created with the Baltimore Orioles, and being only several miles away from each other, would also seriously cut down on travel time as well.

3. Move the Milwaukee Brewers back to the American League, eliminate divisions entirely, shorten regular season schedule to 154 games.

There has been some talk about the idea of eliminating divisions completely, with 15 teams in each league vying for five available playoff spots. This version of that idea would move the Milwaukee Brewers back to the American League, where they originally started as the Seattle Pilots back in 1969. Next, shorten the regular season schedule to 154 games, ending the regular season no later than Sept. 25.

In the playoffs, the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds would play each other in a three-game series to determine who moves on to the semi-finals in each league. The winner would take on the No. 1 overall seed in a seven-game series, with the No. 2 and No. 3 matching up as well. This would be followed by the League Championship Series in each league before the World Series.

4. Keep 162 game schedule, move Brewers to American League, eliminate divisions with four playoff teams in each league

Under this scenario, the Milwaukee Brewers would be the team moving to the American League, and after a 162-game schedule, each league would feature all 15 teams vying for four playoff spots.

In the league semifinals, under a seven-game matchup, the No. 1 seed would play the No. 4 seed, the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds would match up. The winners would move on to a seven-game League Championship Series for the right to move on to the World Series.

5. Move Arizona Diamondbacks to AL in division-less leagues

Earlier in the season, when realignment talk heated up a bit, the Arizona Diamondbacks were mentioned as a team that could possibly move to the American League, along with the elimination of divisions.

The Diamondbacks could help create a rivalry in the southwest with the Los Angeles Angels, so this move could make some sense. However, it would only be a likely scenario if in fact MLB decides to eliminate divisions altogether.

Do you think one of these five scenarios work? Have other ideas?

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