It’s Time For Realignment in Baseball

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Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and the owners must look at divisional realignment in order to provide more fairness in the league. The NFL should be the model for all professional team sports. It has had unparalleled success over the last decade despite the tumultuous domestic economy. A good deal of that is because parity is most prevalent in Roger Goodell’s league. This should be the primary goal for league management and owners.

The new logical format would place all of the American League teams together (eradicating divisional segmentation) and doing the same with the National League. At the end of regular season play, the top four teams from each league would qualify for postseason play. Then tweak the current playoff format to make all rounds best-of-seven. This eliminates the overemphasis on the front end of a given team’s starting pitching rotation.

By Patrick Herbert

All AL teams together regardless of division would allow fans in cities like Baltimore to believe their franchise has relevance once again. There are undoubtedly fans who do not even bother to come out to Camden Yards every season because they feel like they are wasting their time and money. Franchises should not be rewarded nor penalized in their divisional placement based on geography.

The teams at the top of the American League East perennially have a higher winning percentage than those at the top of the league’s Central division. There are already some added on benefits from being located in a big market. More revenue from signage around the stadium and higher asking prices for ballpark naming rights are a couple examples. The New York Yankees are able to translate their popularity into their own network. Revenue sharing balances out some of this inequality, but it doesn’t go anywhere near enough. Realignment would help.

A balanced schedule with continuous interleague play also makes certain that the best teams make the postseason. Currently, schedules are tilted to allow for more games within the division. Balancing match-ups with all teams around major league baseball would increase fan interest. Some contrarians may think we have parody right now since the Padres, Reds, and Braves are all surprising division leaders.

That is true in 2010, but parity is not consistent and certain markets have no hope. The Pittsburgh Pirates do not compete because of their choice to have a very low payroll, but the Blue Jays and the Orioles are behind the eight ball no matter what spending philosophy they choose. Enticing fans in all markets is important because of the game’s aging fan base and tarnished image from performance enhancing drug scandals. Something must be done.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    I completely agree with you that the Orioles and Blue Jays are forever screwed, but consider this stat I found I did some digging and wrote about it here

    http://thesportsbank.wpengine.com/mlb/winning-month-for-the-baltimore-orioles-yes-really/

    In that 31 year span, the O’s won three World Championships, played in the Series six times and reached the postseason four more times in addition to those six years. Only the Oakland A’s, who won four Fall Classics, were more productive during those three decades.

    But these days it seems like the Orioles (and the Toronto Blue Jays for that matter) will need MLB realignment in order to win the AL East.

    But consider the years 1969-1997, when Major League Baseball had two divisions. (Prior to ’69 there was a league split, but no divisional, and since ’98 baseball has had three divisions). During that period, the Orioles won the American League East eight times while the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays each claimed the division five times. If “Ripley’s believe or not” still exists I’m sure this fact would make an episode of the show.

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