Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner, has proposed adding two teams to baseball's playoffs. That would put 10 teams in the playoffs. Besides the possibility of watering down the quality of the baseball's postseason play, the prospect of more games causes images of World Series snow delays to flood my mind.
I have never been a big fan of interleague play and when the playoffs were expanded to eight teams, a radical thought came to me: Why not blow up the leagues and start over? I used to be a traditionalist: I loved the war between the American and National Leagues.
But those days are long gone. The line between the leagues has largely been erased. There are no longer separate umpires. Players move more frequently between the leagues. The big difference between the Senior and Junior Circuits is the use of the designated hitter. I never was one who railed against the DH, but I wouldn't mourn its passing either.
With the two leagues sharing so much DNA now, I think something has been lost. No longer do players care about the All Star Game. The World Series is no longer the ultimate battle to decide bragging rights. Now, there's a chance that the teams meeting in the Fall Classic faced off in the regular season. I find it less compelling this way.
That's why I think a radical reimagining of the teams is needed. I take my inspiration from the decades when there were two, 16 team leagues. My plan calls for dividing the teams, plus two new ones for balance, into four, eight team leagues. I'm sure there are two cities silly enough to build a stadium to get a major league team. Maybe Charlotte and Nashville?
The new leagues would put a premium on traditional rivalries. As in the days before expansion, the schedule would be reduced to 154 games. Teams would play 22 games against only their league rivals. For playoffs, the top two teams in each league would face off in a seven-game series. The four winners would then meet, possibly in a rotating schedule among the leagues by year.
The biggest problem I encountered with realigning the teams was in the Upper Midwest. I was left with nine teams in League II. I moved the Indians in with the the more southern teams. I could have moved the Royals, perhaps, but the Missouri I-70 rivalry was too good to pass up.
I'm under no illusions that baseball will ever adopt such a radical idea. Owners would lose eight dates off the schedule. Others will complain that fans will never get to see three-quarters of the teams. But that would bring an element of mystery to the post-season.
And think of how exciting and important every game would be. And rivals like the Cubs and White Sox would be fighting for a pennant, not just bragging rights from two short series each season. And the season would be eight games shorter. With the demise of the Sunday doubleheader, this could move the World Series back into October where it belongs.
Here are my league lineups:
New York Yankees
New York Mets
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
Tampa Bay Rays
two new teams