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MLB Should Expand # of Teams, Not Playoff Format

Posted on: November 19, 2010 12:28 am
 

I have been tired of hearing Bud Selig talk about expanding the playoffs to five or six teams as the format of the playoffs wouldn't make sense whatsoever. It seems to me that Major League Baseball is only considering that option to make more money in ticket sales throughout the course of the year. The idea of a 1 game or even a 3 game series among wild-card teams seems ridiculous to me as you still have to consider tie break scenarios as well. Not to mention, the World Series already ended in November this past year to cater to the television companies.

Anyway, if Major League Baseball wants to make more money, they should just follow in the NFL's footsteps. Expand the league to 32 teams and have divisional realignment to where there are four teams. Under this format, MLB would go back to the way it used to be. The wild card would be abolished and the only way a team would make the playoffs would be by winning their division outright. With the American League already having two fewer teams than the National League, it only makes sense to even things out by adding two more teams to the American League. It would also make sense for interleague play and help balance the schedule when that happens as each division could evenly match up against a division from the other league (currently impossible with NL Central at 6 teams and AL West at 4).

I'm proposing expanding to Portland, Oregon and Charlotte, North Carolina as both areas make sense and would not be encroaching on another teams territory. By making each division with only four teams, rivalries for each division title would be very competitive. It would be a new idea to make major league baseball more money by having more games, more ticket sales, more television contracts, and more competitive division races.

This makes much more sense (to me at least) than a best of one (or three) playoff series to expand the wild card to five and delay the playoffs even longer (possibly into Thanksgiving). Here is the new format I would propose:



AMERICAN LEAGUE


AL EAST

The American League East would remain the same for the most part with the exception of the Rays departing the American League South. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry would remain intact. As it is now, it would still remain tough for the Orioles and Jays to compete, but each team would have a better chance at the post season with the Rays removed from the picture. I see no reason for them not to be in favor of this. Not to mention, as an incentive to both the Orioles and Blue Jays, more games agains the Yankees and Red Sox will add up to more revenue as those games usually feature higher attendance.


AL NORTH

The American League North would feature the same teams as the old American League Central with the exception of the Kansas City Royals . The Royals have remained out of contention for quite some time now, so their departure would probably just make this divisoin all the more competitive. Many of the same rivalries would stay intact here.


AL SOUTH

  • Kansas City Royals
  • Texas Rangers
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Charlotte
This is where things would get interesting as this division would be formed from teams previously in the American League West (Rangers), Central (Royals), and East (Rays). In addition, the new expansion in Charlotte would also be introduced. For the teams involved, I still feel it would be highly competitive. The Rangers and Rays would be the early favorites in this division if expansion happened in the upcoming years. And yes, I do understand the Royals aren't technically in the South, but it makes sense as far as every other team goes and where else would you put them? However, the formation of the American League South would give the Royals a new life away from the same American League Central teams that they had struggled against previously. Meanwhile, Charlotte would be an ideal city for a new MLB franchise to get started at. It's strength lies in its market size. The average income in the Charlotte area is around $45,000 a year, which is plenty to support an MLB franchise. It also wouldn't be stepping on a current franchise's toes as the closest MLB city to Charlotte is 224 miles away and in the National League (Atlanta). The city has 12 fortune 1000 companies that can be major sponsors to the franchise. Not to mention, the area already supports an NFL and NBA franchise.


AL WEST
The American League West would stay the same for the most part with the Angels, Athletics, and Mariners all returning. The AL West previously only had four teams, but for the realignment to make sense, a new upstart franchise in Portland should be placed in this division with the Rangers (located in the middle of the country) moving to the American League South. Portland would be an excellent city to have a new MLB team at as the nearest MLB market is 200 miles away in Seattle. The average income in Portland is around $40,000 per year which again is enough to support an MLB franchise. Portland is home to five fortune 1000 companies making sponsorship possible. Speaking of which, both Nike and Adidas have their North American headquarters in Portland making a sponsorship rivalry likely if naming rights were up for sale on a stadium. The A's and Angels have always had a rivalry for the past decade going on and with Portland being somewhat close to Seattle a new regional rivalry could be established over time.



NATIONAL LEAGUE

As the National League already has 16 teams, only realignment to support 4 divisions would be necessary.


NL EAST
In order to make geographical sense, both the Braves and the Marlins would depart the National League East for the South and the Pirates would enter from the Central. It might get rid of rivalries for the Phillies and Mets with the Braves, but new ones would be established as another team from Pennsylvania would enter the division. The Nationals and Pirates historically haven't had a history of winning, but such alignment would give them a better chance at reaching the postseason than they currently have. As things stand now with the current format, the Pirates already have to fight off 5 other teams to have a chance at winning the National League central. Meanwhile, the departure of the Braves and Marlins would mean one less team the Nationals would have to get past in order to win the division.


NL NORTH
Talk about a division full of rivalries. The National League North would feature four teams from the old National League Central division as both the Astros and Pirates would be transported to different divisions. The Brewers, Cubs, Reds, and Cardinals would make for one heck of a divisional fight all the way down to the end.


NL SOUTH
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Florida Marlins
  • Houston Astros
  • Colorado Rockies
Both the Atlanta Braves and the Florida Marlins would be transplanted from the National League East to join the Houston Astros and the Colorado Rockies to form the National League South. I understand the Diamondbacks are more south than Colorado, but they are also more west. The Braves and Marlins already have a history playing against each other and I imagine new rivalries could be established. If I recall correctly, both Colorado and Florida were introduced as expansion teams during the same year so there could be a rivalry established there. Houston, meanwhile, could match up competively with the rest of the division and the departure from the old NL Central would be an interesting one. 


NL WEST

The National League West would remain the same, except the Rockies would leave to join the NL South. The rivalries between the Giants and Dodgers would remain intact and a regional rivalry between the Diamondbacks and Padres could also form. This division would remain as competitive as ever as the National League West has always had a great deal of parity. It seems as if a new team rises to the top of that division each year and is always in the hunt at the end of the season.
Category: MLB
Comments

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2011 7:28 pm
 

MLB Should Expand # of Teams, Not Playoff Format

I like the NEW ORLEANS idea over my NEW MEXICO!  Great idea!!!



Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: January 10, 2011 7:25 pm
 

MLB Should Expand # of Teams, Not Playoff Format

I like the way you grouped teams in divisions.  I would love to see the wild card gone with a new 4 division format.  I think it would be great to see either the Yankees or Bosox out each year.  I'm sure, in time, there would be years that they both would miss the play offs.  
    
      I also like the introduction of a team from the CAROLINAS, i think thats a great city for a team.  The other team is where I'm not so sure.  Is Portland really a place that could support MLB 81 times a year?  I only ask this because I always thought that a team in NEW MEXICO, or even a 3rd TEXAS team would be the way to go.  
    
      Most teams will cut down on travel.  I think only ATLANTA would have a problem with travel.  
     
      I love the thought you put into all this!  It's great!!  It would create thousands of jobs.  From major league to rookie league teams, so many people would have jobs.  To me, expansion would be a no-brainer.  Problem is, baseball has a no brain commish!  Best of 3 rounds  and any off the field tie breakers should be left for other sports.  Baseball was always decided by someone making the last out!  Screw tie breakers!  
   
       I'd be very happy you taking over for SELIG!



Since: Jan 20, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2010 10:50 pm
 

MLB Should Expand # of Teams, Not Playoff Format

Your proposal is very interesting and pretty well thought out.  I don't think it will happen, at least not in the near future, but it's fodder for discussion.  The  only thing I don't like is Colorado being in the NL South.  If you're going for geographical divisions, it just doesn't make sense.  There are a couple of other options that I think would be better, geographically.  One option would be to move one of the NL West teams, either Colorado or Arizona into the AL West (this would eliminate Portland as an expansion team though).  In addition to Charlotte being added to the AL South, another southern city would need to be added as an expansion team for the NL South...possibly New Orleans or Nashville. New Orleans supports NFL and NBA teams, Nashville has an NHL team.

Another possible option would be to move Cincinnati into the NL South and put Colorado into the NL North.  I do not like this option as well as my first option, as Colorado is not geographically appropriate for the north (but then, St. Louis and Cincinnati are not northern cities either).  Plus, I think Cincinnati fits better geographically (and rivalry-wise) with Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis than it would with Atlanta, Florida and Houston.

If I read your proposal accurately, there would be no wild card teams, just the 4 divisions winners in each league would make the playoffs. I am agreeable with this, as I don't think we need to add any more teams (and rounds) to the playoffs.  As many do, I feel the playoffs go too long now.  They should not be playing baseball in November.  Here's something I wouldn't mind seeing again (but it will never happen) - scheduled doubleheaders on the weekend (Saturday or Sunday), like they used to play in the old days.  This would shorten the regular season and the playoffs would start earlier and, thus, end earlier.  Again, I know this will never happen as both the owners and player association would not accept it.



Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: November 19, 2010 2:04 pm
 

MLB Should Expand # of Teams, Not Playoff Format

Would you really want the top 2 teams waiting a week, or even a week and a half to play their first playoff games? I wouldn't, even if I was a fan of the top teams. Baseball is different than football as it runs a lot more on momentum at the end of the year. Having to watch other teams play would delay that momentum (imo). I also don't want the World Series played in Thanksgiving.

The thing is, the A's might not be 81-81 if Texas leaves the division. They could have close to 90 wins. The schedule would created much differently than it currently is, so looking at records now doesn't make a whole lot of sense. With less teams in the division, more 9 games sets would be scheduled for teams outside the division. In addition, interleague play would be evenly matched up. I'm tired of teams in the same division not facing the same opponents. When division races are only decided by a game or two, you can look back and see who was the team that got the Pirates in interleague and who was the team that got the Phillies to decide who really should have won the division.

The last point I'll bring up is that under the current format now, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series after finishing 82-80 during the regular season. The Phillies had a better record, but were in a different division and didn't make the wild card either. However, division races were still competitive and the playoffs were as exciting as ever as the Cards won it that year.

The format I'm proposing doesn't change much, but it makes MLB more money. And with less teams in the divison, teams have a higher chance of making the postseason to begin with than they do now.



Since: Oct 27, 2010
Posted on: November 19, 2010 10:56 am
 

MLB Should Expand # of Teams, AND Playoff Format

I like the alignment, and think it would lead to some nice races throughout the entire regular season. However, there would definitely be issues with fairness if this was your AL playoff structure in 2010:

Yankees v Twins (Same)
Rays v A's (81-81 winner of AL West) - 5 other teams have the same or better record than the A's (Tigers, Jays, White Sox, Red Sox, Rangers)

If you copied the NFL format completely and had 2 wild card teams, you would add the Rangers and Red Sox and have the following playoff picture:

Rays - BYE
Yankees - BYE

Twins v Red Sox (switching wild card teams to avoid intra-division matchup)
A's v White Sox

In the NL you would have

Phillies - BYE
Giants - BYE

Braves v Cardinals
Reds v Padres

This would make the race for top 2 finish in each league much more important to get that first round bye.



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com