Mike Friere - Expansion and Realignment Ideas


I feel like I went to a party in April where I had the best time, only to wake up in May with the worst hangover known to man.  Oh and it is one that some Gatorade and Goody's powders cannot make go away, either.  The Mets have really hit a wall of late.....literally!   The team reminds me of one of those "Smash 'Em Up Derby" cars that we all had as kids that would break into a bunch of small pieces after it hit another object.  For the Mets, that object started with Game #13, I guess.

Lets move onto a completely separate topic and attempt to take our minds off of the mess that the team has become (at least until the first game of the Reds' series later today).  The topic in question is possible MLB expansion and/or relocation and it came up during our discussion on schedule and playoff changes last week.

For now, there are a total of 30 teams in MLB with 15 clubs in each league (AL, NL).   In order to properly schedule games throughout the season, it would be easier to have an even number of teams in each league, as well as overall.  By adding one team to each league, you would accomplish both of those goals while adding some excitement to the sport. Let's assume that you are all on board with the addition of two teams.  The first two questions would be what cities get the new teams and in which league would they reside?

I would add expansion teams based in Montreal (NL) and San Antonio (AL).

A return of the Expos would be a good thing in my opinion.  Who else misses those crazy freaks with their demented uniforms and ball caps?  That organization was even more snake bitten the we are!  Additionally, putting another team in the huge State of Texas would be a welcome sight for the fans in that area while adding to the regional rivalries that already exist.

Right after that, if I were in charge, I would immediately move the Marlins and the Rays out of Florida.  Look, I live in Florida and it is pretty easy to see that professional baseball hasn't been a huge hit.  Outside of a few playoff appearances for both clubs, attendance has ALWAYS been lacking in both areas and it has gone on long enough to recognize that it just isn't working.  Florida is a nice choice for Spring Training and for Minor League baseball, so let's leave it at that.

The Rays would be on the move to the Pacific Northwest where they would settle into the City of Portland, OR.  That area would provide better support for the team and it would add a rival for the Mariners who are pretty much on their own in that corner of the country (like they were put in time out a while back, only they haven't left).

The Marlins would relocate to Charlotte, NC which is one of the fastest growing areas in the country.  They would also have much more interest from that fan base then the folks who are still asleep in Miami.

With all of that said, here is a breakdown of how I would set up MLB in this scenario;

NL East                               NL West
Atlanta                                Arizona
Philadelphia                        Colorado
New York Mets                     San Francisco
Washington                         Los Angeles Dodgers
**Montreal (expansion)        San Diego
Pittsburgh                           St Louis
Cincinnati                            Chicago Cubs
Charlotte (former Marlins)     Milwaukee

AL East                                AL West

Boston                                Portland, OR (former Rays)
New York Yankees                San Antonio (expansion)
Toronto                               Los Angeles Angels
Baltimore                            Houston
Detroit                                Seattle
Cleveland                            Oakland
Minnesota                            Texas
Chicago White Sox               Kansas City

This set up (four, eight team divisions) would make scheduling easier and if
you picked the top two teams in each division for the playoffs, it would make
that portion of the schedule shorter and more meaningful, IMO.

If you really want to get crazy, move the franchise from San Antonio to one of
the larger cities in Mexico (Mexico City, perhaps) to really expand the fan base.

What do you think?


Thomas Brennan said...

I like it, except I would not pick the top two teams in each Division, I'd pick the first team in each division, and then the next two best. I would hate to see a 96 win team miss out because the two teams in their group win 100 and 98, and an 83 win team get in due to ending up second in its lousy grouping.

Mack, you are the southeast expert - would Charlotte be a good MLB alternative over the Montreal idea?

I would like to stay in the USA. Mexico to me is geographically risky...cities down there have seen huge hikes in violence - saw this: Mexico has recorded its highest homicide rate in years, with the government’s interior ministry reporting there were 29,168 murders in 2017. And, my guess is the # is underreported.

Reese Kaplan said...

For the real baseball fan, that makes sense. However, the casual fan only really pays attention in the post season and your plan eliminates some of that interest and therefore revenue. Four 4-team divisions would accomplish the same thing but allow for that extra level of playoff contention while eliminating the silly wildcard.

Thomas Brennan said...

I hated 1985. We had arguably the most talented team in baseball, won 98 games, but missed the playoffs.

Robb said...

As much as Id like to move the Marlins, theres no way after financing that stadium that theyd ever be allowed to move. The city and state would sue the hell out of mlb and then go after it in congress. However, moving tampa bay seems plausible.

Baseball in florida is a bad idea. Bc there are so many spring training and minor league games. Its the same in arizona except arizona is boring, so people still want to go to games. If anywhere they should have put 1 team in orlando.

If i could id move tampa to montreal and then switch miami and montreal leagues.

Im not sure portland is really big enough to support a mlb team, but id be interested in one of nashville, portland, austin, san antonio getting a team

Mike Freire said...

Good point on the playoff system......I am OK with the division winners and then the two teams with the best records after that.

Expansion is always risky, since there seems to be a dearth of talent (pitchers) as it is.......for some reason, I would like to see the Expos return.

Reese Kaplan said...

Let's not forget Las Vegas for a potential MLB team...yes, we know all about the PCL issues, but they have the population to support it.

Eddie Corona said...

Mike I love the stuff you post but I am completely against expansion...
Heck i am in favor of contraction. Team like Tampa should be removed. I would remove 2 teams (which i know the Union would never do). But There are not enough elite talent to go around as it is. Expansion would further water down the product.
I believe this to be the case in all sports.

as far as realignment, As long as The mets and the Yankees are not in the same division I really don't care. The Mets do not have any real rivals...
We are everyone's rival. In the 80's it was the cardinals, then Atlanta, then Philly, now the Nationals... Basically we are always the other team...

I do want inter league. We should play all team and have always felt the system the NFL has where you rotate the divisions in the opposite league from year to year is fair and fun.
I want to see Trout in NY and see the mets in Seattle. Seeing the Phillys , altanta, and Miami extra is well boring. What I don't want to see is the Yankees 6 times while my competition does not.

Robb said...

I tend to think new york teams have three natural rivalries: DC, Boston and Philly. As with any other sports where there are 2 ny teams it gets split up boston to one, philly to the other. It helps when these things align with the teams you root for. The yankees and boston, the mets and Philly. Jets and NE, Giants and Eagles. I do think the combo of dc/philly is equivalent to the rivalry of NE

Hobie said...

Agree with Eddie C., contract vs expand to even no. In each league. But either way, a balanced schedule is a must.

?For playoffs I have a more radical thought: pool play for #2, #3 & #4. Season ends on Sun; Tu--#3@#2; We--#4@#2; Th--#4@#3 if necc. (Run differential tie-breaker)

7G cross-division series, LCS & WS.

Mike Freire said...

Good point on the lack of talent in MLB and how expanding would be more of a strain......contracting by two teams would also accomplish the same basic goal, but as you said, that would be a lot of jobs down the drain.

At a minimum, I think MLB should get serious about some of the clubs who aren't pulling their weight (Tampa, Miami)...........I have seen as many fans at a Clearwater Phillies game (the Phillies equivalent to the St Lucie Mets) as at a weekday Rays game, which is crazy.

Pablo Grullon said...

At this point its fair to say major league baseball in Florida is a flat out failure. I don't really have any romantic notions about bringing back the Expos. Would be interesting tho to see if expansion could work in Portland, Ore or San Antonio. Off topic but we really need the DH in the NL. Its way past due

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