MLB: Proposal for 32 Teams in Major League Baseball

Schmolik@@Schmolik64Correspondent IIJune 21, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 10: Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on June 10, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 7-5. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

As you know, Major League Baseball is discussing evening out the leagues so both the National League and American League have 15 teams each.

The problem I feel here is that with an odd number of teams in each league there has to be at least one interleague game almost every day and possibly an expansion of interleague play. Another problem is that no NL team has expressed interest in moving to the AL and almost every team rumored has stated they don't want to move.

An easy solution I feel is to add two more baseball teams for 32 teams total. Then both leagues would have 16 teams and can align into four divisions of four teams each.

If this takes place there should be five teams making the playoffs in each league with the wild card playing the divisional champion with the worst record in either a best of three series or a single game. You cannot eliminate wild cards from baseball unless you want to tell the Yankees and Red Sox that either only one can make the playoffs or they have to be placed in different divisions.

Of course I realize it's going to be tough. I'm not sure if any cities have MLB ready stadiums or the money to finance one. In addition, there is always the dilution of talent. But let's just dream for now.

My proposal for the location of the two new teams:

1) North Carolina

North Carolina is the most populous state that currently does not have a MLB team and they seem pretty far away from both Washington and Atlanta. Charlotte and Raleigh are also in the top 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the US.

Charlotte seems like the best choice (they have a Triple A team already) but Raleigh is also an option. In addition, the Greensboro/Winston Salem area would be a great compromise geographically between Charlotte and Raleigh and Greensboro doesn't have any other top level professional teams while Charlotte has both the NFL, NBA and Raleigh has an NHL team.

2) Virginia Beach/Norfolk, VA

No other state without a professional sports team has more people than Virginia. Only two metropolitan areas that have no professional sports teams (Las Vegas and Austin) have more people than the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area.

My proposals for realigning the leagues/divisions:

Currently, there are eight MLB teams from either the Pacific or Mountain Time Zones. These eight teams will make up the two Western divisions and you don't have to worry about Texas or any other team playing in a predominantly western division.

Of course, one team would have to move since the NL has five western teams and the AL has only three. My proposal is Colorado moves to the AL since Coors Field is certainly a hitter-friendly park (more suitable for a DH). You can't move the Dodgers or Giants and have two teams from the same area in the same league. That leaves Arizona, San Diego, and Colorado.

San Diego and Arizona are a lot closer geographically so keeping them together makes sense while pairing Denver and Seattle (two "Northwest" teams) does as well. Denver is also closer to Kansas City although they would be in opposite divisions.

This is a reason why I am not in favor of adding a western team. Eight teams in the West fit in two divisions. Adding another one would force a Western team (most likely Colorado) in a non-Western division and would make travel worse for its divisional rivals.

Proposal A:

Group the Southern teams (Florida and Texas) together.

NL South: Atlanta, Carolina, Houston, Miami

AL South: Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Texas, Virginia

Remaining Divisions:

NL East: New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

NL Central: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, St. Louis

AL East: Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees, Toronto

AL Central: Chicago White Sox, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota

NL West: Arizona, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco

AL West: Colorado, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland, Seattle

Proposal B:

Group the Central Time Zone teams together.

NL Central: Chicago Cubs, Houston, Milwaukee, St. Louis

AL Central: Chicago White Sox, Kansas City, Minnesota, Texas

Remaining divisions:

NL East: New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

NL South: Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Miami

AL East: Baltimore, Boston, NY Yankees, Virginia

AL North: Cleveland, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Toronto

NL West: Arizona, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco

AL West: Colorado, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland, Seattle

I know Tampa in a northern division is ridiculous but the Buccaneers were in the NFC Central for a while as well. I don't know if the Yankees and Red Sox would consider it, but putting Boston in the North and Tampa to the East would make more geographic sense and eliminate other teams having to both play in the same division.

Creating an AL South with Tampa Bay and Texas makes sense. Both teams are pretty far away from most other teams (Texas is closest to Kansas City) so you might as well put them together (it's also warmer in those cities as compared to most of the northern cities).

Carolina is close to Atlanta so they seem to fit in well with them and Miami in the NL South. So the question is whether to put Houston or Cincinnati with them and who goes with the Cubs, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.

Scheduling Format:

Teams in same division: 18 times X 3 opponents = 54 games

Teams in same league, opposite division: 6 or 9 times X 12 opponents = 90 games

Interleague play: 18 games

Total: 162 games

For non-interleague, non-divisional play:

Teams play each team in one of the other divisions nine times (three series). The divisional matchups rotate every three years. 

Teams play the two teams in the other two divisions that finished in the same place as they did in the previous year's standings nine times (three series).

Teams would play all other teams six times (two series).

Ex. If the Phillies finished first in the NL East, they would play all four teams in one of the divisions and the first place teams in the other two divisions nine times and the other NL teams just six times.

For interleague play:

Teams play each team in one of the four divisions in the other league three times (one series). The divisional matchups rotate every four years.

Teams would play two more interleague series. Teams can protect one or two interleague rivals to play every year. This would accommodate the Mets/Yankees, Cubs/White Sox, Dodgers/Angels, and other rivals. Some rivals will play six times (two series) every year, others just three or six times every year (depending on whether or not their divisions line up).

Is it time for baseball to expand? I'm not entirely sure. But 32 teams seems like a nice round number and it makes the math and scheduling a lot easier than two leagues of 15 teams each. Of course, I proposed earlier to add an extra team in the NL playoffs but not the AL playoffs to accommodate the extra two teams in the NL earlier. 


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