Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported this week (http://danny-knobler.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/8590096/30595756) that realignment in Major League Baseball will happen by 2013, and as early as 2013. Knobler also said that the 2nd Wild Card could well happen in '12, with a playoff game or series between the Wild Card teams.
Knobler says realignment would likely resemble the plan he detailed last month (http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/15249374/no-need-to-thank-me-but-heres-a-great-realignment-idea). In that plan, the following happens:
1) Arizona or Houston (likely Houston) moves to the American League, creating 6 five team divisions.
2) 162-game schedule remains, divided like this: 18 games against each of the other four teams in the division (72 games), six games against each team from the other divisions in the same league (60 games), three games against 10 of the 15 teams in the other league (30 games).
3) Each year, every team plays interleague games against the corresponding division in the other league (West vs. West, Central vs. Central, East vs. East). The other division matchups would switch from year to year (AL West vs. NL Central the first year, AL West vs. NL East the second year, etc.).
4) In the first and last part of the season (April, September), teams would stay within the region. The regions (West, Central, East) would in effect work as 10-team blocks, and April and September would be used for in-block games, with games against other blocks (regions) pushed to the middle of the season. You mostly stay within division down the stretch, but when you don't, you at least don't travel outside the region.
5)The playoff setup remains as is, except that a second wild-card team is added (as it almost certainly will be whether realignment happens or not). Preferably, the two wild-card winners have a one-game play-in, but that's negotiable.
I agree with most of this. There have been those which have advocated the removal of divisions and just two 15 team leagues. The best argument I have seen against that comes from my Dad (Tom Stoner). Dad recognizes that cities/teams that have to promote a team that just finished in 15th place (or 13th, or 14th for that matter) would be killed.
More importantly, neither MLB nor FOX/ESPN would be happy with a drastic reduction of games between rivals such as NY & Boston. While Knobler’s plan avoids that issue, I think my Dad’s plan slightly improves what is proposed above.
His tweaks would be:
A) 12 games against all of your division rivals for 48 games.
B) One 3 game series vs. every team in the other league, plus one additional series vs. each team’s designated rival. For the Orioles, that would be the Nationals. This provides for another 48 games.
C) That leaves 66 games to play against the other 10 teams in your league. You play six of those teams 7 times, and the other four teams 6 times. Those teams can be rotated year to year.
D) Preferably the Wild Card winners play a best of 3 series which makes a Wild Card team use their best starters to advance, and gives the Division winners a further advantage.
While not a completely balanced schedule, it is more balanced than the current schedule. While is a reduction in divisional games, it should still be an amount which would satisfy the TV Networks.
What would you like to see?
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