Currently MLB has 14 AL teams and 16 NL teams. Watching a Cubs @Phillies game today i heard Cubs announcers Bob Brenly and Len Kasper mention that MLB executives are seriously discussing the possibility of realigning to 15 NL teams and 15 AL teams. The idea is to send 1 National League team over to the American League. The Houston Astros were mentioned as the leading candidate to leave the NL Central (6teams) and join the American League, also being considered are the Florida Marlins. The AL West is the only division in either league with only 4 teams so a team will likely shift over here.The MLB last realigned in 1998 when the Milwaukee Brewers left the AL east and joined the NL Central (which is the same year MLB last expanded when Tampa Bay-AL and Arizona-NL became franchises.)
Furthermore, MLB is considering to eliminate divisional play and change the playoff format, where the top 5 teams in each 15 team league would advance. Wildcard(s), byes for 1st place??
Realignment to 15 teams in both leagues aims several things, mainly to achieve more days of rest for ballclubs during the grueling 162 game season. Current MLB scheduling gives only 1 or 2 days off per month to each team from April-Sept. Under the proposed realignment a max of 28 teams per day (7 NL games 7 AL games) would play with 1 team in each league resting (rotation). During interleague play all 30 teams could be matched up on the same day.
AL East (5 teams) 1.NY Yankees 2. Boston Red Sox 3. Toronto 4. Baltimore 5.Tampa Bay 6.????
AL Central (5 teams) 1.CHI White Sox 2. Minnesota 3. Cleveland 4. K.C. Royals 5. Detroit 6.????
AL West (4 teams) 1. Seattle Mariners 2. Oakland A's 3. LA Angels 4. Texas Rangers 5.???? _______________________________________________________________________________ NL West (5 teams) 1. LA Dodgers 2. San Diego 3. Arizona Dbacks 4. San Francisco 5. Colorado
NL Central (6teams) 1.CHI Cubs 2. St. Louis 3. Milwaukee 4. Cincinnati 5. Pittsburgh 6. Houston.
NL East (5 teams) 1. NY Mets 2. Philadelphia 3. DC Nationals 4.Atlanta Braves 5. Florida Marlins.
Also mentioned in the realignment proposal talks is the idea of no more divisional play and the top 5 teams in each league making the playoffs. This idea may make sense somehow in the grand scheme of things, but I for one would hate to lose divisional rivalries like Mets/Phillies, Cubs/Cards, Yankees/Red Sox, Tigers/Indians, Dodgers/Giants and every other storied division rivalry. These rival teams might even still play each other the same amount of games without division play, but fans and foes alike will surely miss gearing up their summer towards beating out the division. For rebuilding teams or struggling teams, being 5th place in their division sounds a lot better then being in 15th place in your league. Free Agency without divsional play would mean Powerwallets like NYY and BOS can hawk players from any team willing to deal, good luck trying to get Baltimore, Tampa, or Toronto to deal within their division now with next year in my mind.