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Baseball America’s MLB expansion and realignment plan would suck for the Twins

Minnesota is not on the east coast, people.

There’s been a lot of buzz in the baseball blogosphere lately about MLB potentially expanding to 32 teams. Whether MLB has realistic plans to do this soon, I don’t know—but I do know baseball is down to just two playoff series-es now, and baseball writers need something to write about. Hence, MLB expansion and realignment talk it is!

Baseball America published a post yesterday espousing an idea for MLB expansion and realignment and it caught my eye. It caught my eye because I friggin’ hate it.

Here’s the gist: MLB would create new teams in Montreal and Portland, Oregon. Since that would mess up MLB’s current divisional lineup—a nice and tidy five teams per division—we’d have to make new divisions to keep them equal in size. Instead of doing eight divisions of four teams each, the author suggests getting rid of the AL and NL leagues completely and just having four divisions of eight teams each.

Here’s the suggested configuration:

East: Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.

North: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, both New York franchises and Toronto.

Midwest: Both Chicago franchises, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.

West: Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

While I’m not a huge fan of eight divisions of four teams, I’m a biased Twins fan and I also hate this suggestion for many reasons:

  1. The Twins are in the same division as the Yankees. Nope.
  2. The four teams actually closest to the Twins—the Royals, Brewers, Cubs, and White Sox—are all... in a different division? The Twins are grouped entirely with eastern teams.
  3. In fact, all of the teams in the Twins’ division play in the eastern time zone. The author noted this, but didn’t seem to think it was a problem, explaining that it “provides increased TV ratings because of prime time viewing.” Oh, cool... until you realize 6:00 pm CT is not prime time in Minnesota, where most Twins fans live and watch Twins broadcasts. There are zero reasons to think this would increase TV ratings for Twins broadcasts. Did the author forget how time zones work? I’m confused.
  4. The Brewers are closer to all of the non-Minnesota teams in the North Division than the Twins, but they are in the Midwest division... why?
  5. Part of this plan includes shortening the season to 156 games, but having a slightly longer postseason (with FOUR wildcard games). Overall, though, it would mean less baseball, which is bad.
  6. Are all teams going to adopt the DH, or are all teams going back to pitcher-bats rules? Who would play on each team in the All-Star Game? These aren’t huge points, but the author doesn’t address them.

Frankly, if MLB expands to 32 teams, there aren’t a whole lot of good ways to realign the teams. Basically, the options are either four divisions of four teams each per league; going back to having only two divisions per league; going back to having divisions of different sizes; or getting rid of the leagues entirely and doing sometime like what the Baseball America post suggested.

I’m not sure what baseball would or should do, but I sure hope it’s not the alignment Baseball America suggested.