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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Realignment good for baseball?

John McCormack brings up a great topic for conversation in his article "Let's Go Back to Eight Team Leagues" featured in the 1987 book "The National Pastime".

McCormack felt at the time of the writing that baseball should both expand and contract in order to bring back the popularity the sport had when it shared the name with the book in which the article finds itself.

This was 1987, and the Marlins, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Rays did not exist yet. The Nationals were still in Montreal and inter-league play and the wild card had not yet been dreamed up. It was simply the American Leagu and National League and each had an East and West division.

The average team had to travel too far just to play within the division McCormack felt. Everything was too spread apart. Rivalries fell apart because fans could not keep track of distant clubs. (Reminder: 1987 -- no internet) He felt that We should blow up the whole AL and NL and start from scratch, making four regions (Northeast, Midwest, Southern and Western) with eight clubs each. Teams would play each other within the region 22 times each, 11 home and 11 away for 154 games, so that rivalries could develope naturally against nearby cities.

The McCormack breakdown:
Northeast: Toronto, (Montreal now Washington)Boston, N.Y. Yankees, N.Y. Mets, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and what he said would be a new team in either Buffalo, New Jersey or Washington D.C.

Midwest: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee and Minnesota

Southern: Atlanta, Houston, Texas, Kansas City, St. Louis, and three new teams from either Tampa Bay (already exists) New Orleans, Miami (already exists, Memphis or Birmingham

Western: San Diego, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle and two new teams from Denver(already exixts) Vancouver, Phoenix (already exists) or Portland

He felt the average fan would care more for his team if the game was regional like it was in it's heyday and they would care more to beat an opposing team if they saw them more regularly and grew the rivalry. He noted that it would save on team travel expenses and that the money saved (he hoped) could be used to drive down ticket costs.

What do you think, would baseball be better serving to the average fan if MLB switched to 4 regional leagues?



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