Bud Selig has long talked about pushing for realignment in Major League Baseball, and now it looks like the players are on board. But don’t look for the Rays to be jumping leagues.
While the exact details are still being worked out, the key component would be for one team from the National League to move to the American League, giving both leagues 15 teams.
The biggest hurdle appears to be a minor one: does each league move to a non-divisional format (more fair for teams in divisions with more than 2 good teams such as AL East)? Or does each league move to three 5-team divisions (to maintain divisional rivalries)?
An odd number of teams in each league means interleague play all season. And interleague all season could mean increasing the number of interleague games.
In its current format, MLB plays 249-252 interleague games in a season. Over the course of a 180-day schedule, MLB could get away with maintaining the same level of interleague play. But it would seem more likely that MLB would increase the number of games played between the AL and NL.
This would lead MLB to adopt a schedule more similar to the other major sports. Right now, MLB teams typically play 11 percent of their schedule (18 of 162 games) against the other league. In the NFL, the number is 25 percent (4 of 16 games) and in the NBA, it is 37 percent (30 of 82 games).
And if MLB does increase interleague play, look for the NL to finally be forced into adopting the DH shortly thereafter. But that’s another story for another day.
In the meantime, we are all for realignment. The current format is idiotic. There is no reason why one division should have six teams and another division has four.
We also like the idea of the non-divisional format. But that seems unlikely to happen. Keep in mind, no divisions means a balanced schedule. And a balanced schedule means more trips to the west coast. And if you think you hate 10:00 pm first-pitches, imagine how much the networks hate them.
And let’s face it, the networks call the shots.
In the meantime, look for the Astros or the Marlins to move to the AL in the near future. The rest appears to just be details.