Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Solving the AL-NL problem

In the April 7 issue of ESPN The Magazine, writer George Milkov explores the inequality between the American League and National League in Major League Baseball. On page 70, Milkov has a list of suggestions for how to correct this inequality, including realignment. Milkov then proposes a Northeast Division comprising of the Yankees, Mets, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto. This led me to wonder what the rest of the league would look like. The following is my proposal (which assumes that the DH would now be employed by both leagues).

For starters, the Northeast Division would headline the AL. In order to provide the balance that is really the ultimate goal of realignment, the NL would need to answer with a powerhouse division of its own. Thus, the Great Lakes Division would headline the NL, which would include Cleveland, the Cubs, the White Sox, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Minnesota. Since the Great Lakes would have six teams, the AL would need a six team division to counter, thus the Midwest Division, comprised of Cincinnati, Texas, St. Louis, Houston, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh. Rounding out the AL would be the Northwest Division, comprised of Seattle, the Dodgers, Oakland, and San Francisco, while the NL will be completed with the Southwest Division, comprised of Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, and San Diego, and the Southeast Division, made up of Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Washington, Florida, and Baltimore. The new leagues would look like this (with my notes and thoughts following each division):



NY Yankees

Boston Red Sox

Philadelphia Phillies

NY Mets

Toronto Blue Jays

This would be the most competitive division, as well as the most expensive. The Yankees and Red Sox would be able to continue their war, while the rest of the division would battle to see who could be the biggest thorn in the big two’s sides, with the Yankees-Mets potentially edging Yankees-Red Sox as baseball’s biggest rivalry somewhere down the line.


Cincinnati Reds

Texas Rangers

St. Louis Cardinals

Houston Astros

Kansas City Royals

Pittsburgh Pirates

Geography is the key here, as the natural rivalries between St. Louis and Kansas City and Houston and Texas will be allowed to blossom. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t see putting Cincinnati with Cleveland or Pittsburgh with Philadelphia.


Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Dodgers

Seattle Mariners

San Francisco Giants

I would have liked to get Oakland in here, but in an economic sense, they would be more competitive in the Southwest. Also, replacing the A’s with the Angels allows the rivalry with the Dodgers to develop, as well as keeping them with the Mariners. San Francisco would continue their rivalry with the Dodgers, while also gaining the opportunity to bring back Barry Bonds as the designated hitter.


Great Lakes

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Milwaukee Brewers

Minnesota Twins

This would be a deep, deep division that would provide for a pretty entertaining race. The White Sox-Cubs rivalry is pretty obvious, while the Twins and Brewers may develop one. The Indians and Tigers could continue to battle for divisional supremacy, while also maintaining bad feelings with the Twins and White Sox. While lacking the glitz and glamour of the Northeast, this may be my favorite division.


Atlanta Braves

Tampa Bay Rays

Washington Nationals

Florida Marlins

Baltimore Orioles

This division would provide natural rivals in Tampa Bay-Florida and Washington-Baltimore while leaving the Braves alone to go on another division title streak. Tampa Bay could finally develop into a competitive club without the financial giants of the AL East to compete with.


Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies

San Diego Padres

Oakland Athletics

MLB actually has gotten this one right. I put Oakland here because they match up better financially with these clubs than with those of the Northwest. This would probably continue to be a wide open division.

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