We’ve entered that age in baseball where there seems to be an influx of talent that comes into the league. We’ve gone from a few drafts with guys that no one really knew about to drafts that are now littered with a host of talent. Guys like Stephen Strasburg are now glorified beyond belief and we’ve built them up so much that failure is not an option for them. It puts a ton of undue pressure on them and should they not live up to the hype that was thrust upon them, nothing but disdain comes their way. With the host of talent out there right now, it seems like expansion would be an amazing idea that probably should happen. And that’s what this article is going to talk about. The idea of expansion in Major League Baseball.
It’s something that probably gets discussed too much about but I actually feel it’s something that hasn’t been talked about enough. In this economy I can understand why people would think expansion would be a horrible idea when every other entity is actually downsizing. But that is what brings about this diatribe. You have to weigh the pros and cons of a situation like this. By expanding you are ultimately bringing about a higher revenue stream to other areas that have been, for the most part, untapped by professional sports. The only hiccup in an expansion idea is to figure out how many teams do you expand with. That’s the real question in this entire ordeal. What is the proper number of teams to expand with? One could easily say you should expand with one. But, even then, that would leave an uneven amount of teams in each league which is the problem we face right now. You could expand with three teams but that would unjustly expand a few divisions far beyond what they should probably be expanded. The real answer lies in the simplest form: two. Two teams. That’s all you need to expand with. Theoretically, you would have to place one team in the American League West just to give that division, the only division with four teams, a complete division featuring five teams. The main question now revolves around where the first team should be located.
The first team, at least in my model, would be located in, where else, Las Vegas. The Las Vegas franchise would be the dawn of a new day for sports as we know it. Never before has a team been placed in such a gambling hotbed like Las Vegas. That could bring about some problems but I actually don’t foresee it as such a problem due to the fact that a lot of the local residents would actually pay and go to see a sports franchise of their own. They current possess a Minor League team out there so they do have the ability to produce a baseball franchise out there. I understand the Minors are not the Majors but it is a start for them. Las Vegas is west enough to allow them entrance in the American League West. After all, if the Rangers are in the West, why can’t Las Vegas be? Right? Now that we have the location of the first team, let’s figure out where to put the second team.
The second team, almost certainly, would have to be placed in the American League to give a balance of 16-and-16. The 16-and-16 model obviously stands for the sixteen teams in each league that would be required to set up an even number of games in each league as well as in InterLeague play. The only problem, under this proposed model, is where to place the team due to each American League division now possessing five teams. But, this is not as big of a problem as you would think. The National League has five teams in the West and East but six in the Central. That’s where the American League team would go, the Central division. Now, we need to find a location for that team.
The second team, now playing in the American League Central, would be located in Indianapolis. Why Indianapolis? Why not? That’s the question I ask. Why not there? It’s the 24th largest media market in North America. If Las Vegas, as the 33rd largest media market in North America, is getting a team then I truly believe that Indianapolis should get one, as well. And, like Las Vegas, they possess the capability of hosting a Major League Baseball team considering the fact that they already feature a Minor League team. There’s no doubt in my mind that the model would work there. It would even out the American League Central, much like their National League counterparts, with six teams. And, at least in my mind, Indianapolis would be a fine place for a baseball team.
So, there we have it. The 32-team, 16-and-16 model that I propose as the expansion of Major League Baseball in America. The American League gets two new teams to even everything out in regards to how the National League as their situation set up. From there, you could supply an even number of games between the teams and everything would work out just fine. The flip side of this, though, is whether or not expansion really is the key to this entire situation. Perhaps, and this is only a thought, subtraction is the answer. And that’s where my next point will be made. Quite simply, certain teams, and ultimately certain cities, do not deserve to have Major League Baseball teams.
The first place I’d strip baseball out of is Pittsburgh. It’s two-fold. The first being that the team is flat out awful and has not been any good for as long as I can remember. The second being that attendance at their park is not good. They currently rank 28th out of 30 teams in attendance in regards to home games. I’m sorry to the lone Pirate fan out there but this needs to be done. Your team sucks and no one is going to watch them. That is a bad combination when it comes down to whether or not your team should be retracted. The other factor is that your team seems to have no future ahead of them. They really don’t. They’ll be bad for a very long time. Retract them and put their players out there in a draft.
The second, and final, place I’d strip baseball out of is Oakland. Not a good team. Horrific attendance. Bright future? Yes. That’s all they have going for them, though. And, right now, in my model, that’s not good enough to survive the retraction. They’ve been rumored to have a new stadium coming for a while but nothing has ever materialized so this isn’t even a tough team to strip and spread out to other teams that are more deserving. It is what it is. And, right now, Oakland is not a good team. Billy Beane will be out of a job but I think some Oakland fans will be happier that he’s not running them into the ground anymore. Tough move, but it has to happen. Retract them and put their players out there in a draft.
This sets it up to have a 14-and-14 model. Fourteen teams in each league. Works beautifully. However, there needs to be some realignment in order to make it fully work. And that’s where the intrigue truly comes into play. The American League West would only have three teams in their division now and would need a fourth team in order to sustain over the long haul. That’s where the Houston Astros come into play. They already have a rivalry with the Rangers and would fit perfectly, at least geographically, into the American League West considering the Rangers are their neighbor to the Northwest. That would, however, set the National League Central up with four teams. That’s where the Kansas City Royals come into play.
The Kansas City Royals would then be slid over into the National League Central to create a five-team Central again. The reason the Royals can be moved to the National League Central rather than just sliding them over into the American League West is due to the fact that the Royals do not have any rivalry going on with anyone in the West. It’s clear, at least to me, that the Royals can be moved into the National League Central without any problem whatsoever. It makes it easier to do it this way, as well. The Royals would be able to play against their rival, the Cardinals, far more and it would create, in all likelihood, a better future for the Royals as well.
The problem lies in the fact that the National League would still feature more teams than the American League at the present moment in this debate. That’s where the Blue Jays come into play. They would be shipped over to the American League Central. Why? Geographically they’re not far from Detroit or Cleveland. They’re about as far from Detroit and Cleveland as they are from New York. This move makes sense. Sorry to those who think it doesn’t but it actually does. Do the Blue Jays feature any prominent rivalry in their division? Not really. They can move without a problem.
This allows the Marlins – yes, the Marlins – to move into the American League East. Don’t think it’ll work out? Well, the Rays are a close rival of the Marlins and they’re in the American League East. Works out beautifully. This will allow the American League to keep five teams while still being able to develop proper rivalries like the Rays and Marlins. And, lest we forget, the Marlins and Yankees due to the 2003 World Series. And, also, the Marlins and Red Sox due to the Beckett-Ramirez trade that happened a few years back. Rivalries will be fresher than usual and developed a lot easier.
So, at least at this moment, the National League Central and National League West would each feature five teams while the National League East would be cut down to four. The Royals, Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, and Reds would play in the National League Central, The West would have been untouched so the Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rockies, and Diamondbacks would all still be where they began this entire ordeal. The East would feature the Mets, Phillies, Braves, and Nationals. That would give them fourteen teams. The four from the East to go with the five from the West and Central, respectively.
The American League West would feature the Angels, Mariners, Rangers, and Astros. The East, however, would be undergoing some massive and drastic changes and would feature five with the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Rays, and Marlins. The Central would have the Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Indians, and Blue Jays as their five teams. That would set them up with fourteen total teams in their respective league. The four from the West to go with the five from the Central and East, respectively.
Is this a lot of change? Yes. But, I see the argument for both sides. So, I want you people to decide.
Should there be an addition or a subtraction? Try not to answer with anything saying it should be left as is. I want you to pick between these two options that I have presented.
AL West: Angels, Rangers, Athletics, Mariners, Las Vegas*
AL Central: Indians, White Sox, Tigers, Royals, Twins, Indianapolis*
AL East: Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles, Rays
NL West: Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies
NL Central: Cardinals, Pirates, Brewers, Cubs, Astros, Reds
NL East: Marlins, Phillies, Mets, Braves, Nationals
AL West: Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Astros*
AL Central: Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Indians, Blue Jays*
AL East: Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Rays, Marlins*
NL West: Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies
NL Central: Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Reds, Royals*
NL East: Mets, Phillies, Braves, Nationals
* Denotes team as new to the division
Note: I really didn't know where to post this so I hope it's alright that I posted this here.