Why "Floating Realignment" May Be The Worst Idea Ever

You know when you read something and it sticks with you all day? The concept just gets stuck in your head and you can't get it out no matter what? And it angers you? ↵

↵This concept of "floating realignment" angers me. It may be the worst idea I've ever seen. Tom Verducci has the particulars: ↵

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↵⇥As with most issues of competitive balance, floating realignment involves finding a work-around to the Boston-New York axis of power in the AL East. ↵⇥

↵⇥One example of floating realignment, according to one insider, would work this way: Cleveland, which is rebuilding with a reduced payroll, could opt to leave the AL Central to play in the AL East. The Indians would benefit from an unbalanced schedule that would give them a total of 18 lucrative home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox instead of their current eight. A small or mid-market contender, such as Tampa Bay or Baltimore, could move to the AL Central to get a better crack at postseason play instead of continually fighting against the mega-payrolls of New York and Boston. ↵⇥

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↵There would be some restrictions to the floating nature of things, including limiting teams to within a two time-zone range of its own. But the proposal suggests there could be swings in the number of teams in certain divisions from year to year and even differing numbers of teams in the American and National Leagues. ↵

↵Worst. Idea. Ever. ↵

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↵This is just a cowardly way of avoiding the huge problem in Major League Baseball: a salary cap. Failing the passage of a cap, which will never happen if the MLBPA or certain ownership groups have anything to say about it (note: they do), they could rectify part of this problem by constructing a solid salary floor and potentially developing an even more widespread revenue sharing plan. ↵

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↵Going back to Verducci's example, how can Cleveland sell to their fans that they don't expect to be competitive some years, then expect the fans to come out to watch them play? Hey fans, we're going to lose anyway, so wouldn't you rather see us lose to the Yankees and Red Sox? And how cowardly would it be for the Orioles, Rays or Blue Jays to have to leave the AL East just to make the playoffs, especially if and when either Boston or New York don't make it? And what happens when Cleveland thinks they are competitive again? Can they just go back to the AL Central and take back their traditional spot? Does the corresponding team have to switch back as well, or will it end up in five years that the AL East is just the Yankees playing the Red Sox and nobody else? And what happens if the Yankees or Red Sox decide to leave the division? Is that fair to the teams in, say the AL Central who now have to face them? Does allowing a team into a division go to a vote, like a backyard clubhouse? Should we just pick division captains who can pick the teams each year like we're playing a game of dodgeball? This is ludicrous. ↵

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↵If MLB wants to realign, it should realign geographically and be done with it. Get rid of the American and National Leagues already. And yes, I understand the only way to do that would be to either eliminate the DH (never going to happen) or make it mandatory in both leagues. As much as that pains my pitchers-should-have-to-hit sensibilities, the modern pitching staffs and benches and increasing specialization of the sport make it more likely that the NL will eventually adopt the DH anyway. Once the playing field is leveled, model your divisional structure like the NBA and separate the teams like this: ↵

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↵Atlantic League: ↵
↵North Division – Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, Milwaukee, Cincinnati ↵
↵South Division – Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Florida, Washington ↵
↵East Division – Boston, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh ↵

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↵Pacific League: ↵
↵Midwest Division - Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City ↵
↵Mountain Division – Arizona, Colorado, Houston, Seattle, Texas ↵
↵West Division - Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco ↵

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↵Obviously, the divisions could swap a few teams here or there, and if the names of the divisions – especially the "Mountain" – don't make sense, MLB could name them after Hall of Fame players. The Mays, Ruth, Gehrig, Aaron, Williams…you get the point. ↵

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↵Have the division winners make the playoffs and pull the two wildcard teams from all the remaining teams, not the next best in each league. Anything has to be better than what they're suggesting now. This floating idea...should sink. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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