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Out of Left Field: It’s Time for a Division Makeover

Could shaking up the division structure in MLB be a key change to the game moving forward?

Ichiro by David Sizer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Out of Left Field: It’s Time for a Division Makeover

Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Baseball needs a shakeup. Don’t say it doesn’t. We all know it does. While there’s something to be said about the staying power baseball has had for over a century, it also has gone through very few impactful changes in that time. Much like the overall state of the US, baseball feels very vanilla and resistant to change.

With the 2020 season in shambles due to COVID-19, we’re seeing MLB take a stab at a shortened season. They were even able to shoehorn the universal DH into their proposal, but that’s a conversation for another day. It’s sad that it took a global pandemic to force MLB into any kind of change, but hey, it’s something.

And something I think can help with that is giving a full makeover to how we look at the two leagues within the league, and the divisions that make them up.

I’m going to use this limited season as a reason to write about this league as if there’s no National/American split. Because this schedule throws that out the window. With the universal DH and inter-league geographical divisions playing each other (e.g. AL/NL East), we have the literal once in a lifetime opportunity to see baseball try something new.

So let’s explore that.

Here are my thoughts on a division shakeup.

  • Abolish National/American league. It’s all “Major League Baseball” now. I don’t care if it’s universal DH or universally “no-DH” – but keep the rules consistent.
  • Split the divisions up in the same way the NFL does within their conferences (North/South/East/West).
  • Like in this shortened season, play the majority of your games within your respective division. An Orioles trip down to play Miami (too soon?) can also hit the Rays and Braves on that swing.

This is just a start. And that gives us the ability to mess around with the playoff system, too. This is why I’m here for the expanded playoffs that MLB adopted on the eve of the season. Do I think it’s absurd that more than 50% of teams make playoffs? Yes. But it’s baseball shaking things up for once. Lean into it. I’m not going to advocate for 16 teams, though. That feels a bit too much.

Adjusted playoffs: by me

  • Create a playoff system that gives you 8 total teams. Sure, this cuts back on what we’ve “grown” into, but MLB has been trying to put a square peg in a round hole with the recent wild card additions.
  • The top two teams from each of the 4 divisions make the playoffs. No wild card. Simple as that.
  • Make all series consistent in games. Either cut to five games like in the Divisional Series, or expand to seven like in the Championship Series and World Series.

There are so many seemingly arbitrary baseball rules. These changes seem, to me at least, extensive, yet simple. Why not give it a shot?

What do YOU think?

Kevin is an actor, director, playwright, and musician who works in tech. He is die hard New England sports and an avid Tottenham supporter. His qualifications include scoring 1 point in his elementary school basketball career, 4 years of mixed little league results, and breaking his arm with a skip-it days before pre-season workouts started for Freshman football.

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