A few weeks ago, some friends and I were debating what a potential realignment in Major League Baseball would look like if they realigned the divisions based on geographic location. I wanted to see with my own eyes how the divisions look on an actual map and what they could possibly look like if they were re-allotted geographically.
This is a map of how the divisions are currently aligned:
AL East: Black
NL East: Red
AL Central: Blue
NL Central: Green
AL West: Purple
NL West: Yellow
As much as I enjoy the divisions the way that they are, they just don’t look right on paper.
If Major League Baseball ever decided to realign the divisions based on geography, this is what we would likely be looking at:
(Note that I am keeping the current divisional format of five teams per division.)
The new divisions if MLB were to base them off of geographical proximity would be:
- Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Orioles
- Nationals, Pirates, Indians, Blue Jays, Tigers
- Royals, White Sox, Cubs, Twins, Brewers
- Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Rays, Marlins
- Mariners, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Astros
- Giants, Athletics, Dodgers, Angels, Padres
Another option is to swap the Mariners and the Padres, but I think it makes sense for all five teams in California to be in its own division. Either way, this is a lot easier on the eye than the initial map.
The benefits of this are that travel is made more affordable for teams. For example, let’s say the Yankees are just finishing up a night game in Toronto and have a day game the next day against the Rays in St. Petersburg. If MLB realigned the divisions based off of geographical location, the Yankees would no longer be in the same division as either team and therefore, this instance would not occur as often. With all of the long distance travel that professional athletes endure over the course of a long season, narrowing the distance of travel for divisional games that are played so frequently is a good way to decrease potential wear and tear due to travel.
Teams are more scattered in the west where the travel for divisional games would still be considerable for some teams. The Mariners, for example, will never have a flight from home of fewer than 800 miles no matter what division they are in. The majority of the large metropolitan cities are on the eastern half of the country and closer together, while the 13 teams (including St. Louis) playing ball west of the Gateway Arch are more widespread.
As far as leagues are concerned, they would look entirely different than they do right now. It may make more sense to have an Eastern and a Western League or Conference. But most baseball fans, including myself, would be opposed to going against the traditional American and National League system that has been in place since the early 1900s. It just wouldn’t seem right.
There is by no means any truth to this, and it would not be easy to imagine that the game would create totally new divisions in a short period of time. It was just a fun thing to debate and see what baseball could possibly look like if the game ever did entertain this option.