Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MLB Re-alignment Could Mean More Interleague Games

Several sources are now reporting that Major League Baseball will announce the sale of the Astros to businessman Jim Crane tomorrow.  Why should Tigers fans care?  All baseball fans should care because it means that the Astros will move from the National League Central Division to the American League West Division starting in 2013.  This will allow for two fifteen-team leagues with six five team divisions rather than silly four-team AL West and six-team NL Central setup than has existed since 1998.  

Another change will be be two wild cards in each league which will most likely meet in a one-game playoff to see who joins the three division winners in the divisional series.  I don't know about this one.  It seems absurd to play 162 games only to have the winner of the final playoff spot determined by a single game even if one team wins 10 more games in the regular season.  The one positive is that division titles will become more meaningful since teams will do whatever they can to avoid a one-game playoff. 

The other big change will be the schedule.  With 15 teams in each league, they will probably have to have an interleague game every day.  None of this is confirmed yet, but some Twitter rumblings (most recently by MLB.COM Astros writer Alyson Footer) suggest that there will be 30 interleague games for each team.

I think this means that the schedules will look like what Danny Knobler of CBSports detailed this summer.  For the Tigers, that would mean:

18 games vs each AL Central Opponent = 72 games
6 games vs each team in AL East, AL West = 60 games
3 games vs each NL Central team = 15 games
3 games vs each team in NL East or NL West (rotating every other year) = 15 games 

While I don't like expanded interleague play, I do like the logic and symmetry of this plan. I like the fact that every team within a division would have the same schedule.  I also believe that the AL Central teams playing NL Central teams every year could create create some interesting rivalries.

While it's not radical re-alignment, this would be pretty big news for a league that is (thankfully) slow to make changes.  I think we'll know all the details for sure within the next few days.   

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