Addressing the media during the All-Star festivities, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said another round of expansion could be in the sport’s future.
“I think we are a growth business, broadly defined,” he said. “And over an extended period of time, growth businesses look to get bigger. So yeah, I’m open to the idea that there will be a point in time where expansion may be possible.”
Debating the merits of expansion is an argument for another day (many say the last expansion resulted in too many players in the league who should not be in the majors). It is likely two more teams would be added, leaving 16 teams in each league so there would be no need for interleague play every day. That is a good thing right there.
It is also likely that each league would be broken up into four divisions of four teams, like football. And maybe there would be six playoff teams in each league (four division winners and two Wild Cards).
But what would realignment look like? I have sketched out a plan based on geographic lines. Baseball tries to do this now, but let’s face it — the Mets should not be in a division with teams from Atlanta and Miami. And why are two teams from the same state (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) in different divisions?
So I’ve come up with this:
Rays (change leagues)
Charlotte (new team)
Rockies (change leagues)
Las Vegas (new team)
These are divisions that make sense. I moved the Rays to the NL so they could be in a division and develop a rivalry with the Marlins. I moved the Rockies to the AL because there really was not a place for them in the NL. The new teams were mentioned among the possible expansion cities, and they fit into the holes I was trying to fill. If they pick other cities mentioned, according to ESPN.com (Montreal, San Antonio, Portland, Oklahoma City, northern New Jersey (!), Mexico City or Monterrey, Mexico), my plan would have to change.
Under this set-up, each team would play their division rivals 20 times, for a total of 60 games. They would play the other 15 teams in their league six times, for 90 more games. Each team would play 12 interleague games — one series every weekend in June. They could be event games, bringing the luster back to interleague play. That adds up to the 162 games.
Having the teams better geographically organized will cut down on the mileage teams have to fly over the course of a season. And well-rested players means a better product on the field.
Expansion will probably happen because it means more money for everyone. Each owner will get a cut of the entrance fees, the players union gets more jobs and two cities get brand new teams. It’s a win-win for everyone.