10 Mar


By Jim Walters

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated is reporting that Bud Selig and a 14-person “special committee for on-field matters”  are considering a radical change to the current divisions in Major League Baseball.  The heart of this is that baseball is considering a floating realignment where teams will change divisions year to year, based on geography, payroll and opportunities to contend. The thoughts behind this is to help the lower market teams contend in divisions where they are currently competing with teams that spend up to three to four times more.

The AL East is the best example of why such a change would take place. The Yankees and Red Sox enter every year with the financial edge of taking two of the four postseason spots. While this wouldn’t necessarily change with the realignment, teams like the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays could move to the AL Central to escape the odds and to have a chance to win the division.

What this realignment also does is break the long-standing tradition of divisional rivalries. A year without the Red Sox-Yankees in the same division would greatly disappoint fans in New York and Boston as well as television networks.

Other thoughts that greatly disturb the heritage of the game is mixing up the leagues meaning the Mets and Yankees could be in the same division. While that means there are more games between the two, it also means league heritage will be a thing of the past.

Realignment may also put teams in the same division by payroll, meaning the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies could all call one division home. The fact that this is being considered is enough to give Mets fans nightmares.

At this point, Selig says this, as well as everything else, is being considered. Such realignment means that new issues arise.  What happens to the designated hitter if the leagues are mixed?  The players union would never allow the designated hitter to be abolished while the purist of the game will resist the league uniformity of a designated hitter for every team.

While the American League has issues of competitive balance with the Yankees and Red Sox making up 38 percent of the playoff berths in the American League since the inception of the Wild Card, the National League  has seen greater balance as the Phillies were the first team to win back-to-back pennants since the Reds in 1975 and 1976.

As for the Mets, the NL East is an exciting division where all five teams are optimistic going into the future. The Nationals finally can pitch and the Marlins are building a new ball park which will lead to greater revenue. The Braves are improved and the Phillies are a model franchise.

All we know is that realignment is being discussed, and it is instituted, it cannot be good for a franchise that spends a great deal of money, but doesn’t spend it well. This is enough to upset the stomachs of a Mets fan base that has already spent enough money on rolaids and pepto bismo for the past few years.



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