|Will the Expos return to Major League Baseball?|
The MLB is talking about expanding for the first time since 1998. Nice. Expansion in pretty much all the major league sports has died off since the early 2000s yet all we see are skyrocketing values in franchise values. Makes sense for leagues to start to kick around expansion.
Baseball can see itself expanding soon and two teams make the most sense. For one, it would place a 16th team in each league. Second off, it can right one wrong.
Any baseball expansion needs to include Montreal, provided they can get a new stadium built. The Expos were a fine franchise during its time and was basically crushed into moving to Washington DC. I would love a return of the Expos to baseball and think that's a no-brainer.
The other franchise is debatable. Portland, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, New Jersey, Vegas and Charlotte top the list. Maybe a Mexican city or Puerto Rico would be viable. Since I grew up in Charlotte, I'm "bullish" on the Queen City. Of the cities mentioned above, they are the only one with two professional franchises already (unless you consider New York's NFL teams as "Jersey teams"). They have no territorial team already (it is Braves country, but that isn't a rock solid thing).
Forget arguing, I'm going with Charlotte.
That brings us to the next issue -- realignment. With the two leagues at 16 teams, do you realign to four divisions now? Do you move teams to different leagues yet again? Can I find a way to move the Astros back to the National League where they belong?
Well, I think moving to four divisions will happen.
NL EAST: Expos, Mets, Nationals, Phillies
I have to move the Expos back to the NL East where they belong. That would set up an interesting rivalry with the Nats, who were formerly the Expos. The Mets and Phillies form the obvious rest of the division.
NL SOUTH: Astros, Braves, Marlins, Reds
Houston is back. I absolutely hate Houston in the AL. I'd love to switch them and the Brewers around to put Milwaukee back in the AL but that won't happen. So you will see who switches over. The South would make up the four southern fanbases in the National League. The Astros, Braves and Reds rolled together in the old NL West.
NL NORTH: Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates
Call it what you want. The NL Central. Midwest. But the Cards and Cubs get to stick together as do the Brewers need to be with the Cubs. The Pirates will be the fourth team in here with the Astros move back to the NL. If that's not going to happen, I can see the Pirates in the "South" which would be the "Central" and the Rockies moving here.
NL WEST: Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Rockies
The current NL West, minus the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers, Giants and Padres must stay together, of course and the Rockies have been in the NL longer than the D-backs. Still, is there any other American League-y team that the Rockies? I like this set up.
AL EAST: Blue Jays, Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees
This is the current AL East, sans the Rays. These are traditional rivals that have been together for a long time.
AL SOUTH: Knights, Rangers, Rays, Royals
The new Charlotte team I am dubbing the Knights since that is the name of their current AAA squad. Calling the Royals a south team is a bit of a stretch, but it has to be geographically. The biggest issue with this division is the complete lack of any history. The Knights are expansion and Charlotte a new MLB city. The Rays have always been in the AL East, the Royals and Rangers have been in different divisions since 1994. Still, Kansas City would rather be linked here than forced out west.
AL NORTH: Indians, Tigers, Twins, White Sox
Four Central teams with the Royals moving south.
AL WEST: Angels, Athletics, Diamondbacks, Mariners
The Diamondbacks are now an AL team and that's fine with me. The AL lacks western teams and Arizona really doesn't have its teeth in the NL like any of their western franchises.
Like I said, maybe it should be tweeked. Keep the Astros in the AL is you have to and the D-backs in the NL. But the division format would be greatly shifted. Hey, this is my thinking so this is my plan!
With 16 teams in each league, we can now go back to the way it used to be and have Interleague play on a special basis. It's fine now with it every day, but it has lost its luster. So go back to the featured feeling of it. Make sure we get six games with these rivals.
Oh, and here are my interleague rivals: Expos-Blue Jays, Mets-Yankees, Nationals-Orioles, Phillies-Red Sox, Astros-Rangers, Braves-Knights, Marlins-Rays, Reds-Indians, Brewers-Twins, Cardinals-Royals, Cubs-White Sox. Pirates-Tigers, Dodgers-Angels, Giants-A's, Padres-Diamondbacks, Rockies-Mariners.
You will play each team in your division 20 times, with 10 on the road and 10 at home each (60 total games). You let them play each team in the other divisions in your league 6 times, 3 home and away (72 games). Then, you will play your interleague rival 6 times. That gets us to 138 total games and 24 games left to play with. I say play each team in one of the other league's division 3 games each (even if that division contains your rival, then you get an extra 3 games against them). Then rotate the divisions like the NFL does every year. More on that later.
And like the NFL, you will play an extra 3 games against each team in one of the other divisions in your league. That will rotate around every three years. So for two years, the Reds would play the Dodgers six times total and one year play them nine times. There's your 162 games.
It isn't too much of a departure of what we have today. Right now you play 19 games against division foes,
Why does this work?
1) The interleague play is not everyday anymore and just 18 games all year long. That keeps the original feel of interleague play as special since it is not happening all the time.
2) It isn't too much of a departure of what we have today. Right now you play 19 games against division foes, 6 or 7 games against 20 total interleague games. Not too big a change.
3) With a four-team division, it would allow for division games to happen at the beginning and end of the season. In the beginning of the season, it is important since if there is a weather event (snow), then it is easier to make it up against a division opponent. And with an even number at the end of the season, we can see a lot more division games in September.
4) Could we go back to division champs as the lone playoff teams? With four division winners in each league, we could go back to no wildcards. If you like the wildcards, we could add them back in by having the best 2nd place team playing a one-game series against the worst division winner. As we've seen in the NBA and NFL, sometimes there is a poor division winner knocking out a better team that finished in 2nd due to geography. This could correct that.