In the past few years Major League Baseball’s commissioner, Bud Selig, has made some major changes to the MLB playoff system, and the realignment of the American and National League. By adding another playoff team for each league, and moving the Houston Astros from the NL to the AL, Selig has for the most part pleased baseball fans. However, there is one important change Selig still needs to make.
Selig needs to get rid of the divisions in both the American and National League. Why, you might ask? Well, take a look at the American League last year. The AL East teams combined for 420 wins, the AL Central teams combined for 379 wins and the AL West teams combined for 351 wins. But keep in mind the AL West had one less team than both the AL East and AL Central.
So with one less team in it’s division, the AL West still had only 21 less wins than the AL Central. Plus, both the AL East and the AL West had two playoff teams while the AL Central had one. Take this is step further; if the Detroit Tigers, who won the AL Central last year, were in the AL East or the AL West, they would have finished in fourth place. It doesn’t take a baseball expert to see how much more dominant the AL East and West were last year compared to the AL Central.
Another aspect Selig needs to evaluate regarding divisions in Major League Baseball is the reason we have divisions in the first place. Divisions were created to split both the American and National League up according to where teams are located. The reason the MLB, and really most sports leagues, spilt their divisions up based on team locations is so teams will not have to travel as far when playing teams within their division. However, the current divisions in the MLB right now are very poorly divided.
Take a look at the Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins as an example. For the Rangers, who are in the AL West, to travel to play the Seattle Mariners, also in the AL West, it’s a 2,243 mile trip. Now for the Twins, who are in a different division (AL Central) than the Mariners, the trip to Seattle is only 1,656 miles. An even better example of how the divisions don’t truly go according to team’s locations is the New York Mets. For the Mets to travel to play their NL East foe, the Miami Marlins, it’s a 1,295 mile journey. For the Mets to travel to Pittsburg and play the Pittsburg Pirates, who are in the NL Central not the NL East, it’s only a 383 mile trip. In some cases, teams have to travel even further throughout the year because Major League Baseball has divisions in place.
In order for our nation’s game, and our national pastime, to improve, Selig needs to do away with divisions. I’m not saying that getting rid of divisions would be an easy or painless process. It might take Selig a few years to figure a new system out. That being said, getting rid of divisions would help even the playing field, in some cases shorten teams travel throughout the year and ultimately be a change that improved Major League Baseball.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure at first many fans, players and owners may question Selig’s decision to eliminate divisions. But many big changes made in baseball were first scrutinized and later deemed historic improvements. Just look back to 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.