Buster Olney over at ESPN.com reported yesterday that MLB and the players union are discussing moving a National League team over to the American League to even out the two leagues to 15 teams each. This Fan has maintained for quite a while that realignment is overdue. Two other proposals talked about in Olney's report were that Houston might be that NL team and that there is consideration for the abandonment of the division format. Boy, that gives us a lot to talk about.
Let's get the easy one out of the way. No divisions would be a huge mistake. While baseball did play with two ten team leagues for many years, fifteen teams in one big blob just seems unseemly. Plus, this Fan (and probably other fans) likes having three division races to cover all the time. It's more exciting than just having one big blob of a league and taking the top five teams for the playoffs. While that would ensure the best five teams in each league getting to the playoffs (based on record, not division), what you would lose outweighs what you would gain. Though this issue seems the easiest to dismiss, the Fan wouldn't be surprised he gets plenty of counter-arguments on this one alone. Perhaps a more balanced schedule would be created by this idea and that would be one of the arguments to be sure. But an extra wild card round already takes care of a lot of those concerns about good teams getting screwed by the current system.
The other sticking point for this Fan is the idea of the Astros joining the American League. The problem here is that one of the current inequities of the current divisions as they stand now is having the Texas Rangers in the American League West. While the AL West needs to have four teams, the travel this gives the Rangers is difficult. Plus, it would make more sense to choose a team like the Diamondbacks, who are one of the newest teams in baseball to make the switch than a team with a tradition that goes back to the early 1960s.
And so, the Fan's plan is very simple. Only two teams get moved. The Texas Rangers join the AL Central and the Arizona Diamondbacks move to the AL West. Sure, that gives the AL West a lot of teams, but that's already the case with the NL West. Why would the Astros need to have more competition with the Rangers as Olney suggests? The Yankees don't need to compete with the Mets do they? This "excitement" is already covered in the interleague games.
Perhaps this Fan is among the few who enjoys the current division format. You have the potential for six division races that still mean something. With the Fan's plan, you have the smallest amount of disruption to the current system, fix an inequity for the Rangers and still keep a western team where it belongs. Makes sense here. Arguments are welcome though.
**Update: One further thought: Except for two days a week, every team plays games. If you have two odd numbered divisions, wouldn't that create an interleague situation for every one of those other five days a week?