Over the past few weeks, I have read a bunch of reports talking about how there needs to be some sort of divisional realignment in baseball. Some of you might be wondering just what realignment is, and if it has happened before. Realignment is when teams change divisions, or even leagues, to make for better scheduling, competition, or whatever the reasons the league comes up with to move a team. The answer is to “has it happened before” is Yes! Realignment has happened several times in every sport. It happened as recently as 2002 in the NFL when the Houston Texans joined the league and expanded the NFL to 32 teams. This caused the league to add a fourth division to both the NFC & AFC and change the way seeding for the playoffs is decided.
What is being discussed in baseball, however, is moving the Houston Astros from the heavily populated, six team, NL Central and sending them out to the under populated, four team AL West. It turns out this might actually not be a bad idea. It would bring some stability to the leagues making the number of teams in the American League and National League even at 15, instead of the current 16 team NL and 14 team AL setup. The problem I have when it comes to realignment is the crackpot ideas that people come up with in regards to who should move where. I happened to stumble upon one article in which the author was crazy enough to put the Mets and Yankees in the same division and move all the California teams to their own division. Now that’s just silly!
This concept of “geographical” alignment by this sportswriter for a certain company which will not be named (you can just click the link and find out), is dumb. With the amount of games that are played in a MLB season, I couldn’t imagine seeing the Yankees playing the Mets or the Phillies 18 times a year! For one, it would take away from the rivalry that gets established during inter-league play. Two, it would make for a STACKED AL east, with the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Jays and Phillies all in one division. Yes it makes sense for everyone driving their hybrid sedans to see these teams play because they wont have to fill up on gas too often, but in all honesty it would ruin the MLB post season. This would be especially true in this division, since 3 of the 5 teams this have legitimate post season chances. It wouldn’t be fair. As I mentioned before, the same author suggests that all the California teams be placed into one division. Again, this would be geographically easier, but the disadvantage here is that all of the teams (with the exception of the Giants) are having subpar seasons. Having all of these crappy teams in one division would create an imbalance. You can’t figure out a proper re-alignment strategy by just throwing out a bunch of crazy ideas and saying “Hey, this works!”
Is there anything necessarily wrong with bringing over the Houston Astros to the AL West? Probably not. But, then again, I feel location should be considered when you are trying to expand a division. While taking the Astros to the AL West evens out the divisions, it will take away from the inter-league rivalry when the Astros and the Rangers play each other. I feel it makes more sense for MLB to move Houston to the NL West and move Arizona to the AL West. The Diamondbacks are an exciting young team (Goooooooooooldschmidt!!) who can make the AL West an even better division and possibly spark fiercer competition with Texas or Los Angeles than the Astros could. None of this is going to happen in the near future because, as we have seen, these things take time to get going in MLB (look at instant replay). At the end of the day, Houston will still be playing in the NL central and there will only be four teams in the AL West…for now at least.
image courtesy of: Scott Boehm/Getty Images
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