The day was July 9, 2019 – the first pitch of the 2019 All Star Game was just a few hours away. In a radio interview with Mike Trivissono on “The Mike Trivissono Show” on WTAM 1100 AM Cleveland, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred talked about the possibility of baseball realignment.
Triv: “Have you yourself given any consideration to realigning? Could you imagine Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Pittsburgh all in the same division?”
Manfred: “Ya, we’ve talked about geographic realignment periodically, on and off. You know, it’s one of those issues where tradition for some clubs is an issue, but I think at some point just because of the demands of the travel, you might see some geographic realignment in baseball.”
Since Rob Manfred has put geographic realignment in the realm of possibility, I decided to figure out for myself what I believe a realigned league would look like. Starting with the New American League:
AL Northeast Division
New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and Toronto Blue Jays.
All four cities mentioned are large cities with rich North American history. The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is the greatest in the sport, and Mets-Phillies is fierce as well. Putting all four teams, along with Toronto, in the same division would create even more great rivalries such as Mets-Yankees and Blue Jays-Phillies.
AL Midwest Division
Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and Minnesota Twins.
The two teams from Chicago and the two teams from Missouri would finally be in the same division, and the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry would stay intact. This division could easily be in NL, but since there are three former AL teams in the division, I have it in the AL. Also, the Twins could be replaced by the Brewers, but the Twin Cities are further west than Milwaukee.
AL Southwest Division
Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, and San Diego Padres.
The “Western” divisions were the hardest to create because there are six teams on the West Coast. I put five in one division, with the Padres being the odd ones out. Astros-Rangers and Padres-Rockies are good rivalries, and the Diamondbacks would geographically fit in just fine.
NL Southeast Division
Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Tampa Bay Rays.
On the other side of the spectrum, the “Eastern” divisions were the easiest to create. All I did was put the northern teams in the AL and the southern teams in the NL. The Orioles and Nationals are very close in proximity, and the Florida teams would play each other 19 times/season. The Braves fill in the last spot based on geography.
NL Mideast Division
Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Milwaukee Brewers
This division is loaded with strong, competitive rivalries. Among them, Indians-Reds, Tigers-Pirates, Indians-Tigers, and Reds-Pirates are the best among these five teams. In addition, the Brewers are one of two teams (Astros) to have played in both leagues since the present division format was created in 1994, having played in the AL and NL Central at some time.
NL West Coast Division
Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, and Seattle Mariners.
Appropriately named due to each teams’ respective location, the West Coast Division is also filled to the brim with historic rivalries. Both Bay Area teams and both LA teams would hail from the same division, and the Dodgers-Giants and A’s-Mariners rivalries would continue without a blemish.
Thus, this concludes my presentation of what I believe an MLB realignment would look like. In order for this realignment to take place, I believe three things need to happen first:
- The idea needs to gain more popularity among fans, teams, and the MLB itself. Their simply isn’t enough at the moment for the realignment to take place and make everyone happy in the process.
- The MLB needs to make a choice on designated hitters. I don’t believe the leagues can have separate rules on DHs because of all the teams that would be changing leagues. The MLB would need to either outlaw the DH or enforce it completely.
- The Rays need to stay in Tampa Bay. They are easily the team that is most likely to move in the near future. If they would move somewhere outside the American South, then the Southeast division would not work out as it does, and another round of realignment would have to be considered.
And on that note, my next article will be about the Rays. How did they get to this troubled state, and what does their future hold? Come back next week to find out.