With the recent talk of Major League Baseball considering an expansion to 32 teams, it brought me around to thinking about what baseball might look like.
Presumably, they would have to reorganize divisions, lest they end up with that decades-long injustice of having one division with an extra team for no reason. So, expansion would naturally facilitate a move from three divisions of five to four divisions of four, similar to the NFL. The league could also revert to two divisions of eight, but meh. That's less interesting.
What this would present is an opportunity for baseball to right some regional wrongs, placing rivalries into the same division and potentially spurring on a newfound sense of geographically convenient loyalty.
There is that pesky designated hitter cultural divide that exists, but it's a stupid one. The DH rule is better, but for the sake of quashing enmity, let's just say that realignment would revert everyone to the rule of your choice. In other words, let's move past the silly, silly insistence that a team wouldn't leave their respective league because of an outmoded sense of baseball 'purity.'
There is also the question of where the expansion teams would be. Recent proposals have suggested places as disparate as London and Mexico City while others have sought a return Montreal, placing a third team in Texas, or expanding to metropolitan centers like Portland or Las Vegas.
For our purposes, we'll randomly suggest Mexico City and Montreal, if for no other reason than regional economy, putting the new teams as far apart as possible without having to do any serious realignment negotiating. Mexico City is huge, Montreal previously had an MLB franchise. Both seem like logical enough choices.
With that being said, here is what the new MLB could look like:
- Colorado has no natural fit. It's in the middle of nowhere with no regional rivalry to speak of with a distinct lack of anything anywhere. It was essentially the remainder in the big equation of realignment, and without disrupting other more natural rivalries they get shunted into the National League South. Sorry Rockies. Maybe they could move to Memphis or Nashville or somewhere in Carolina? New Orleans might be a good fit.
- Breaking up Boston and New York is likely a non-starter for true realignment, but all misgivings would be forgotten when the two of them played against each other in the World's Series. It would be the highest rated Series in baseball history, and the rivalry would be maintained through interleague play.
- Kansas City/St. Louis makes too much sense, and maintaining the old rivalry with the Cubs, along with regional considerations and previous history between the Royals and White Sox, the new National League Central would be one of the more intriguing and naturally-occurring divisions.
- I'd be interested to see the arms race in the Southwest. The Angels, Dodgers, and a new team in Mexico City would presumably be flush with cash. Along with Arizona's crazy willingness to do absurd transactions, that'd be a fun division to watch.
- For me, it's a toss-up between the American League East and the National League South for 'Division that I don't know if I really care for all that much.' Having Philadelphia and Cincinnati in the same division in the immediate future seems cruel, but it's certainly a plus for Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
So there you have it. The new MLB, distinctly regional (as the sport is wont to be) and infinitely more logical in terms of geographical placement (save for Colorado). I for one would welcome our new baseball overlords.