ESPN’s Buster Olney recently reported that Major League Baseball is toying around with the idea of switching a National League team over to the American League. But why would baseball make such a move? It’s easy to forget that for the 1998 season the league welcomed two expansion teams in Tampa and Arizona making a total of 30 Major League Baseball teams. Despite having an even number of teams, the league was concerned about playoff scenarios, so they wanted each league to have an even number. The result were the Brewers switching from AL to NL. The move created 16 NL teams and 14 in the AL. Making it unfair for the six team NL Central and too fair for the four team AL West.
However, it’s also been mentioned that the current divisions will become eliminated for the realignment. This would create a playoff picture where five teams within each league would be battling for playoff birth. Personally, I’m not a fan of that because that could mean the top seeds in each league would be getting a bye. It could also make scheduling a problem. But, most importantly, some of the best rivalries in sports have storied, legendary and heated battles because of teams being placed in the same division. I’m talking about Yankees/Red Sox, Dodgers/Giants, Redskins/Cowboys and Canadian/Maple Leafs. Then again, new rivalries can be made, like when the the Falcons and 49ers were NFC West rivals, and, something the NHL may have to think about since the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. But, overall, baseball is such a traditional sport that this change could really make the fans unhappy.
While MLB and the players’ association discuss the possibility of such a move for the 2012 season, here’s the three teams being eyed for the switch.
This move makes the most amount of sense, and is the most talked about. If divisions were kept in tact it would remove the Astros from the six team NL Central and add a team to the four team AL West. So, this move wouldn’t be that extreme to the league as a whole. Even if the divisions were done away with it could still establish an inter-state rivalry with the Rangers. Sure, it would be tough for Houston to adjust to American League rules for the next several seasons but I’m rather certain that baseball fans in Texas would embrace the rivalry.
Honestly, their nonexistent fans could care less. However, there have been times when they’ve established themselves as NL East contenders, so seeing that division get broken up would be a shame. But, if the division lines are erased, that wouldn’t really matter. If baseball is looking for an inter-state battle between the Marlins and Rays it probably won’t happen, since both clubs are struggling to fill seats in their stadiums. So, this move may shake-up the game a bit, but overall it wouldn’t really help the league.
Makes sense geographically, since the team is relatively close to teams in the AL West. It would resolve the AL West shortage, but, there would still be a problem in the NL Central, so a team, perhaps Houston, would have to change divisions. Again, since divisions may become a thing of the past, that wouldn’t matter. The biggest concern is that there wouldn’t be an in-state rival to contend with, but perhaps one could start up with a club like the Rangers or Angels. Also, since the team has only been around since 1998, fans wouldn’t have longstanding and bitter rivalries to lose out on
This shift could inject new life into the game, which it’s in desperate need of. What I find interesting is that there are fans of the NL and AL that are in favor of this realignment, and present valid arguments on why it’s a smart move. So how do you feel baseball fans? Are you in favor of the switch? Or, do you want to the league to remain intact?
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