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Expansion Could Trigger Re-Alignment, Longer Postseason

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Expansion Could Trigger Realignment, Longer Postseason

October 16, 2017 By Tracy Ringolsby

 

Ever since the Expos moved from Montreal to Washington in 2005, there has been an ongoing movement in the Canadian city to regain a major league franchise. There has even been talk of support for building a ballpark downtown, which was one of the missing ingredients that led to the Expos' departure.

In September, the folks in Portland, Ore., were given hope that they, too, could be home to an expansion team when commissioner Rob Manfred, speaking in Seattle, for the second year in a row mentioned Portland as a potential site for a franchise, and was quoted as saying "a team in the West" would be a part of any expansion.

And there is a legitimate ownership group in Portland that has the necessary financing along with support for a stadium, which would be partially funded by a $150 million grant. Approved by the state of Oregon to help finance a stadium when efforts were underway in 2003 to be the site for the relocation of the Expos (who instead moved to Washington, D.C.), the grant is still available.

There seems to be a building consensus that baseball will soon be headed to a 32-team configuration. It will lead to major realignment and adjustments in schedule, which will allow MLB to address the growing concerns of the union about travel demands and off days.

One proposal would be to geographically restructure into four divisions, which would create a major reduction in travel, particularly for teams on the East Coast and West Coast, and add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as interleague attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles.

 

Consider four eight-team divisions with the addition of teams in Portland and Montreal:

East: Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.

North: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, both New York franchises and Toronto.

Midwest: Both Chicago franchises, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.

West: Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Key elements of this alignment:

  • A 156-game schedule would include 24 total games against the eight teams in each of the three other divisions—three games against each opponent.
  • The schedule would include 12 games—six home and six road—against each of the seven divisional opponents.
  •  The format would provide for an off day every week (such as every Monday or Thursday) and would fit into the same foot print for beginning and ending as the 2018 schedule. The season could start on a weekend, which would offset only one three-game series played the week of the All-Star Game.
  • The 156-game schedule would reduce each team's slate by six games, but revenue could be made up by a major reduction in travel costs.
  • Fan interest could be maintained by allowing for the four first-place teams in each division to advance to the postseason, and having play-in games against the eight remaining teams with the best records.
  • The winners of the four wild card games would advance to the Division Series, which would feature a wild card team against each division champion.
  • Those four winners would advance to the Championship Series, and the winners of that round would meet in the World Series.
  • That would add postseason product to the broadcast packages and provide postseason hope for 12 of the 32 franchises, which could boost attendance in September, again offsetting any impact from the season being six games shorter.
  • With a day off every week, there would be a regular rest routine, much like prior to expansion when teams would often play Sunday doubleheaders and Monday would be off. It could be used for travel so teams did not have to make long flights, arriving in cities at 3 a.m. or later.
  • And the schedule would drastically reduce travel, while keeping teams in their time zones, except for the Rockies and Twins. They, however, would be playing teams in a time zone an hour earlier, which is less demanding than an hour later, and also provides increased TV ratings because of prime time viewing. The other intra-division teams would have to travel to Colorado or Minnesota just six games per year.
  • All teams would open the season with an inter-division series, and all out-of-division road trips would be two-city trips.

 

 

 

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Oh no! The Tigers would lose their "natural rivals" of Pittsburgh and Colorado!

I assume this would mean DH-for-all, which I would see as a good thing, but there would be quite an uproar/battle about it. On the surface, I like it. The Tigers would get Toronto back in the division, which was a nice rivalry for quite awhile.

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I like it. Losing the AL and NL would be kind of weird, but whatever. Nothing wrong with no longer having an AL pennant and an NL pennant. The divisional championship would mean a lot more if you are the best out of 8 teams. And the current pennant going to the team that happens to win a couple a playoff series is kind of bad anyway. 

Not sure what you would call the semi-finals. Probably just the semi-finals I guess. 

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I think expansion will happen soon, but I doubt Ringolsby's scenario was seriously discussed.  I don't think they will ever get rid of the American and National Leagues.  They are too important to the identity of the sport and too many fans would protest it.  I think the leagues will stay pretty much the same, but the divisions will be different. 

The commissioner has said in the past that there would be eight four team divisions.  It is hard to see how they would make the playoffs work with that though.  They would either have to have just division winners (which won't happen) or first round byes or have 16 teams in the playoffs (which would be so awful it would almost kill my interest in the sport).  I could see the latter scenario  happening only because the networks would love it. 

Another possibility would be four eight team divisions with eight wild cards having play in games.  I would dislike that too, but it would be much less awful than 16 teams in the playoffs.  

In the end, I think MLB will do something I don't like, but if it gets Montreal back in the sport I could live with it.    

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I like the general concept of it, but I don't know about some of the details.

First off, I would think they would want a stadium solution for Tampa before going ahead with expansion.  That solution might be relocation to Montreal.  And didn't Portland lose their AAA team because the government was loathe to kick funds in to support the team?  Aside from this, are there any locales clamoring to get into MLB?  Aside from being a big city, have there been any rumblings whatsoever about additional teams?

I think the play in games as structured above are an awful idea.  It puts too much emphasis on geography rather than record.  If they seeded teams by record 1 through 12 and then went about play ins and byes, that'd be a different story in my book.

I think there are pairs (and trios and 4s) of teams that MLB would consider to be unbreakable, and I think Cleveland & Cincinnati is one of those pairs.  I realize Detroit is more north than Cincinnati, but Detroit is also more east than Cincinnati.  I would think they would be flipped.  I don't see it as extreme as moving Detroit to the midwest in order to keep Minnesota and Milwaukee together, but you never know.  This is an organization that thought World Series home field advantage being decided by an exhibition game made sense.

I like the idea of everybody playing everybody.  And the likelihood of one solid rule on the DH.

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32 minutes ago, tiger337 said:

(which would be so awful it would almost kill my interest in the sport).

Yeah, right.  How else are you going to spend you free time?  You would miss this place.

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4 minutes ago, Casimir said:

Yeah, right.  How else are you going to spend you free time?  You would miss this place.

If they put 16 teams in the playoffs, I will definitely lose some interest.  I will always love baseball, but would probably follow it in a different way, maybe watch more minor league games.  

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5 minutes ago, tiger337 said:

If they put 16 teams in the playoffs, I will definitely lose some interest.  I will always love baseball, but would probably follow it in a different way, maybe watch more minor league games.  

16 is too many for sure. I could see 12 tho. Four division winners and then four 1 or 3 game wildcard games/series.

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Keep the AL and NL, but go back to two divisions each. 

Then for the 8 wild cards, do the thing that spots the home team a 1-0 lead in the series. 

 

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3 minutes ago, Who is the Drizzle? said:

16 is too many for sure. I could see 12 tho. Four division winners and then four 1 or 3 game wildcard games/series.

I can live with 12.  I don't really see how the 8 * 4 scenario would work if they want to reward the division winners. 4 * 8 makes a lot more sense.  

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I actually like this suggestion as is. I could quibble about which teams belong where (I would probably spread some teams out in the Eastern time zone to make it a fairer travel situation), and I would miss the Tigers making three trips to Chicago, but at least they'd be guaranteed to make it here on one side of town or the other every year. I even like the playoff suggestion. I would not be opposed to this if they went forward with it.

 

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13 minutes ago, chasfh said:

I actually like this suggestion as is. I could quibble about which teams belong where (I would probably spread some teams out in the Eastern time zone to make it a fairer travel situation), and I would miss the Tigers making three trips to Chicago, but at least they'd be guaranteed to make it here on one side of town or the other every year. I even like the playoff suggestion. I would not be opposed to this if they went forward with it.

 

Given all the formats that they are likely to consider this one would not be bad.  I would probably change the divisions around but the format is OK.  

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NOBODY in Montreal was going to baseball games before. I'm entirely ignorant on this subject but if anyone in the know could explain to me what has changed since then I'd love to hear it. 

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4 minutes ago, Yoda said:

NOBODY in Montreal was going to baseball games before. I'm entirely ignorant on this subject but if anyone in the know could explain to me what has changed since then I'd love to hear it. 

They got good attendance the first 25 years.  Then then they got screwed by the strike in '94, their best season and they had a big fire sale after the season.  At that point, the team had a disinterested owner who refused promote the team in any way and even stopped putting games on TV and eventually radio.  I think Selig was part of wanting to get them out of Montreal too.  

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5 minutes ago, tiger337 said:

They got good attendance the first 25 years.  Then then they got screwed by the strike in '94, their best season and they had a big fire sale after the season.  At that point, the team had a disinterested owner who refused promote the team in any way and even stopped putting games on TV and eventually radio.  I think Selig was part of wanting to get them out of Montreal too.  

Not to mention an absolutely horrible stadium 

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5 minutes ago, tiger337 said:

They got good attendance the first 25 years.  Then then they got screwed by the strike in '94, their best season and they had a big fire sale after the season.  At that point, the team had a disinterested owner who refused promote the team in any way and even stopped putting games on TV and eventually radio.  I think Selig was part of wanting to get them out of Montreal too.  

Agreed on the attendance and what let to their demise.

Was Selig resentful about Milwaukee failing in its bid for a 1969 expansion team, and so looked the other way at what was going on with poor ownership in Montreal?

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5 minutes ago, CMRivdog said:

Not to mention an absolutely horrible stadium 

It was a terrible stadium, but they put on a good show and fans were going when they had a good team.  

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37 minutes ago, Yoda said:

NOBODY in Montreal was going to baseball games before. I'm entirely ignorant on this subject but if anyone in the know could explain to me what has changed since then I'd love to hear it. 

I think the idea is that Montreal is a big city, and they have been without baseball for 20 years now. There appears to be a large number of people there that want an MLB team. They make as much sense as any other expansion candidate. 

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22 minutes ago, Shelton said:

I think the idea is that Montreal is a big city, and they have been without baseball for 20 years now. There appears to be a large number of people there that want an MLB team. They make as much sense as any other expansion candidate. 

The prospect of having live baseball games broadcast in French is worth pursuing this.

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55 minutes ago, tiger337 said:

They got good attendance the first 25 years.  Then then they got screwed by the strike in '94, their best season and they had a big fire sale after the season.  At that point, the team had a disinterested owner who refused promote the team in any way and even stopped putting games on TV and eventually radio.  I think Selig was part of wanting to get them out of Montreal too.  

Gotcha. I remember the strike and what happened to them, along with the fire sale, but forgot all of the crap with the owner. This makes sense. 

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42 minutes ago, tiger337 said:

It was a terrible stadium, but they put on a good show and fans were going when they had a good team.  

It's darned difficult to get to from the downtown area for sure, even with the metro.

They'd get as many people as Tampa get and Blue Jays games there at the end of spring training have been very well received. Whether they could get the sort of attendance consistently I'm not so sure.

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The davidsb Model:

Keep separate leagues, eliminate interleague, each league have four 4 team divisions.  No wild card needed with just four teams in each division.  Want to play in post season, win your division.  Slightly weighted schedule, 14 games within division teams, 10 vs teams outside division.

AL East=NYY,TOR,BAL,BOS; Central=DET,CLE,MIL,CWS; Midwest=MIN,KC,TEX,HOU; West=SEA,PORT,OAK,LAA

NL East=WAS,MON,PHI,NYM; Central=ATL,MIA,TB,PIT; Midwest=COL,STL,CC,STL; West=SF,LA,SD,ARZ

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1 hour ago, Blue Square Thing said:

It's darned difficult to get to from the downtown area for sure, even with the metro.

They'd get as many people as Tampa get and Blue Jays games there at the end of spring training have been very well received. Whether they could get the sort of attendance consistently I'm not so sure.

I did not think it was difficult to get there via the metro.  It is easier than getting to Fenway.  

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