All this talk about realignment is a good thing. I think baseball is in need of a tune up. Lots of options have been presented such as getting rid of divisions, teams switching leagues, additional playoff spots. After reading about all the proposals, I think I have come up with a pretty good plan:
1. The divisions stay
There is something about winning a title that emboldens fans and gives them hope. While the ultimate prize is to be crowned the World Champion, going into next year as a division champ at least gives teams some bragging rights and it's always nice to put up a banner, even if it is for just the NL West title. West, Central, and East stay!
2. Houston, welcome to the American League
One of the teams mentioned in the realignment talk are the Houston Astros. I want the leagues to be equal so each one consists of 15 teams. Each division will have 5 teams and the only change to the current alignment now will be the Houston Astros moving from the NL Central to the AL West. It immediately opens up an interstate rivalry, and Houston is the most logical choice geographically. Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan thinks it is a good idea, so do I.
3. Interleague year round
Having an odd number of teams (15) means that interleague play will have to occur all season long. I am okay with this concept. However, I don't want a rotating schedule like the current one. In order to save on travel costs and entrench geographical rivalries, the West plays the West, the Central plays the Central, and the East plays the East - two series for each matchup, one home, one away. For example, the Padres every season will play a 3-game series against the Mariners, Angels, A's, Rangers, and Astros at PETCO Park and a 3-game series in Seattle, Anaheim, Oakland, Dallas, and Houston. The interleague rivalries remain intact (LAD-LAA, NYY-NYM, CHC-CHW). I only want to see the Yankees and Red Sox in the World Series or if I go visit New York or Boston! Thanks, but no thanks to having Yankee and Red Sox fans taking over PETCO Park! It's bad enough when the Dodgers are in town.
4. Schedule breakdown
I hinted at part of this regarding interleague play. The 162-game schedule remains. Here is how it will work using the Padres as an example: 3-game, home-away series against the NL East, NL Central, and AL West. The rest of the schedule will be against division rivals. 18 games each against the Giants, Dodgers, Rockies, and D-Backs (three, 3-game series home and away). Everything is even and consistent. That is one thing football has going for them, baseball needs to do the same.
There is always debate regarding expanding the postseason. Well, my plan is to expand it by one round by introducing a wild card round. Wild Card (best of 3), Divisional (best of 5), League Championship (best of 7), World Series (best of 7). Basically the same format as the current system, but there will be two wild card teams who will play a best of 3 series the three days directly following the end of the season. The wild card team with the better record will host the series. The division winners will get three days off before game one of the Divisional series. The seeding rules will be the same as now. Also, get rid of the All-Star game winner getting home field advantage. The team with the best regular season winning percentage gets home field advantage in the World Series.
So there you have it. My plan calls for consistency, more excitement, 33% of teams make the postseason and new rivalries will be born. There you go Bud Selig, I made it easy for you. It is time for baseball to make this change and I hope they start with the 2012 season!