The major league shuffle

by Chris Haffenreffer | 5/9/00 5:00am

It has become apparent to the baseball community that Major League Baseball needs to realign its divisions in order to produce more intradivision games and better September matchups among contenders, and to take advantage of natural regional rivalries.

Although the home run frenzy of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa has helped the game of baseball in terms of attendance and marketing, the MLB still does not attract the eyes of the American public like it once did. A realignment of divisions and reconfiguration of the schedule is a significant step towards generating the kind of interest in baseball that commissioner Bud Selig hopes for. Though a final decision on realignment has been delayed until June, Selig's proposed plan reads as follows:

Arizona would move from the NL West to the AL West. Texas would move from the AL West to the AL Central. Tampa Bay would move to the NL. This would leave fourteen teams in the AL, with six in the Central and four each in the East and West.

The NL would be comprised of four four-team divisions. The AL would have a wild card, and the NL would not. Each NL team would play 20 games against division rivals. The AL East and West teams would play 18 against division rivals, and the Central would play fourteen against three division rivals and 15 against the other two.

Perhaps it is my ignorance, but this seems to be the most idiotic rearrangement of the 30 teams in professional baseball. Three five-team divisions in each league seems the most practical mapping of the teams, but I guess that is too obvious. Given the idiocy of the proposal, I have devised several alternate plans for submission to the commissioner's office.

Proposal 1: Realign by Nature

This plan calls for a radical realignment along the lines of the nature of the team. There would be five different divisions -- Humans, Flying Entities, Sea-life, Non-flying Animals, and other. Teams such as the Yankees, Indians, Brewers, and Pirates would be in the Human division. The Cards, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Angels would be in the Flying Entities division. The Sea-life division would consist of the Devil Rays and Marlins. The Tigers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Phillies (I guess) would be in the Non-flying Animal division, and teams such as the Expos, Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies would classify as Other.

Proposal 2: Realign by Wealth

Under this plan, the Yankees, D'Backs, Braves and Indians would be in the Upper Class division. Go figure, four of the best teams in baseball are also the wealthiest. The Cards, Red Sox, Mets and Reds would be among the teams classified as Upper-Middle Class. The Rockies, Giants, Padre, and Mariners would fall into the Middle Class division. Montreal, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Milwaukee would all be forced to pay money to the other teams (particularly the Upper Class division) until they go broke and are forced to work as George Steinbrenner's personal slaves.

Proposal 3: Realignment by time zone

With this plan there would simply be four divisions, and they would be aligned by time zone. I mean, what a better way to take advantage of geographic rivalries? This may seem like such a simple plan, but there's one quirk -- Arizona does not observe daylight-saving time. So the Diamondbacks could be considered either a part of the Pacific division or the Mountain division.

I can already envision the problems with this one Arizona makes it to the series, which begins a few days before daylight-saving time ends. A weak Baltimore team (representing the East) knows it's going to lose big and claims that Arizona is actually a part of the Mountain division although they had been playing all summer in the Pacific division. The Rockies, of the Mountain division, had a better regular season record than Arizona, so Baltimore claims that Arizona shouldn't even be in the World Series. Therefore, as Mr. Cal Ripken Jr. will insist, Baltimore wins the Series by default. Damn Arizona!

Proposal 4: Realign so that there is one team per state

I mean, doesn't anyone feel sorry for North Dakota or Montana? With 50 teams, there could be five divisions of ten teams. It would be a great excuse to get rid of the Mets. Plus, who doesn't want to go on a road trip from Florida to Alaska to Hawaii to New York?

Proposal 5: Instead of realigning the teams, we realign the states

If we wanted Atlanta to be in the West division, we could swap Washington and Georgia. A little state rivalry is always a good thing, and it's been a good 140 years or so since we had a nice civil war. It's good to test the government every once in a while.