A few weeks ago I wrote about the abomination that is the Designated Hitter.
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig told Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci that there’s currently no discussions surrounding the National League’s adoption of the DH, but left an interesting nugget at the end:
“I’ve always said it would take something of a cataclysmic event to get that done,” Selig said. “Geographic realignment would be such a cataclysmic event.”
Geographic Realignment seemed like a radical idea not too long ago. The American and National Leagues had separate offices, umpiring crews and league presidents.
Then interleague play began in 1997. By 1999, Selig closed down the league offices in an attempt to “unify the leagues,” putting everyone under the same roof. The Houston Astros will join the American League next season, making interleague play a full-season event and further “unifying” the two leagues.
If adopting a Designated Hitter in both leagues is the ultimate goal, geographic realignment is the first step in that direction. The distinct differences between National and American League baseball have been slowly decaying since the summer of 1997 and the once radical notion of mass realignment is no longer that radical, unfortunately. The financial reasons -decreased travel costs and higher attendance numbers- will speak louder than tales of tradition.
Here’s how it might look:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels
Potential rivalries added: A’s/Giants, Dodger/Angels
Team helped with travel/attendance: A’s: It’s 1,725 miles from Oakland to Dallas to play the Rangers. The furthest divisional trip would now be 492 miles (San Diego).
Potential rivalries: Rangers/Astros
Team helped with travel/attendance: Rangers
Kansas City Royals
St. Louis Cardinals
Potential rivalries: Royals/Cardinals, Cubs/White Sox, Cubs/Twins
Team helped with travel/attendance: Royals
Toronto Blue Jays
Potential rivalries: Red/Indians, Brewers/Tigers, Blue Jays/Tigers
Team helped with travel/attendance: Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Potential rivalries: Yankees/Mets, Phillies/Red Sox, Phillies/Pirates
Team helped with travel/attendance: Pirates
Potential rivalries: Orioles/Nationals
Team helped with travel/attendance: Nationals
Geographic realignment was nothing but a silly notion a decade ago. Now it might not be the craziest evolution baseball fans see in the next 10 years.