The Emperor/Commissioner Bud Selig recently discussed the status of various collective bargaining agreement issues (the current agreement is up this Winter), and tip-toed around two issues of particular interest around these parts: realignment and expanded playoffs.

To the realignment issue first (it is a precursor to expanded playoffs) – the reason it is of particular interest to Chicago Cubs fans is because realignment is necessarily going to begin with the National League Central. Although the relative crappiness of the Central for years has masked an implicit imbalance in baseball, the time is coming to recognize that a 16-team National League and a 14-team American League, and, worse, a six-team NL Central and a four-team AL West, are simply unfair. It seems now that most in baseball are on board with realignment, but the logistics are a nightmare.

Before we can even get to the scheduling problems associated with two, non-integrated 15-team leagues (because teams play in series, either teams will have to have odd/longer breaks, or an AL team will have to be playing an NL team at all times), there is the obvious primary question: what team(s) go(es) where? No team is particularly interested in moving. So, is realignment really inevitable?


Because Selig is hoping to implement some variation of an expanded playoff (an additional Wild Card team is the most frequently-cited model) within the next two years, realignment is also likely on the way soon.

Indeed, a source says, prospective incoming Houston Astros’ owner Jim Crane (who is being vetted by MLB) is softening on his stance that the Astros not move from the NL Central to the AL West. That move, of course, would be the simplest solution to the realignment question. Selig and MLB could condition Crane’s acceptance into the brotherhood upon his agreement to move the Astros to the AL West.

From there, expanded playoffs would look like a lock.

“I hope to have it next year,” Selig said of expanded playoffs. “It will depend on a whole series of things. The holdup is working out all the details.”

The details, according to Yahoo’s sources, make an additional Wild Card team unlikely for the 2012 season. But Selig will be working hard to have it in place by 2013, which will be – according to him – the first MLB season after his retirement in December 2012.

So, it looks increasingly likely that the landscape of professional baseball will change a fair bit over the next two years – which could be perfect timing for a certain revamped team on the North side of Chicago.

  • Cubs_Fanatic

    This is going to be interesting. But you have to love that it takes place after Selig hauls butt out of there and if it sucks, the new Commissioner is ganna get it. :p

  • http://Bleachernation Bric

    But what of the reports of the rebel fleet massing near Solast?

    • baaaahb

      It is of no concern.

  • Jamesjones

    “Im afraid your Houston Astros will experience the fully operational AL WEST.”

    • http://Bleachernation Bric

      Many Astros died to bring us these plans…

      • Brett

        Wow. You guys are cracking me up.

        • TWC

          IT’S A TRAP!!!

          • Fishin Phil

            • TWC

              Hahaha.  Where’s that “like” button?

            • Jeff


          • Brett

            • dreese

  • EQ76

    2 thoughts… First,  send the Brewers back, they’re too good this year so they can return to the AL.  Second, i hate, let me repeat HATE, the idea of the second wild card team playing a 1 game sudden death… that seems stupid and pointless to let 1 game decide the wildcard…

    If MLB wants to increase attendance and enthusiasm in the MLB put more teams in the playoffs.. why not 6 from each league.. (3 wildcards per league) They could let the top 2 in each league get a first round bye, the other 4 in each league play a 3 of 5 series.. then the second round follows the current format (4 out of 7) then onto the LCS, then WS.

    That’s how the NFL does it (minus the series format) and it works for them.. Also, have fewer days off between games so the post season doesn’t reach into November.

    The NBA & NHL put 16 teams in the playoffs.. the NFL puts 12 in.. MLB only 8.. and they say we’re slipping in ratings??  Why not boost up to 12?  Shoot, all it does for us is increase our chances each year to make it!!!

    • hansman1982

      They could let the top 2 in each league get a first round bye

      This is a terrible idea – baseball is much more of a rhythm game than football – typically long breaks are terrible for the teams that receive them, just ask the Rockies team from a few years back.

      My idea is to have a 3 game – 2 day WC round to put the WC teams at a distinct disadvantage. This would spice up September and even in a crappy year like this at least we would have 2 playoff races rather than just the 1.

    • hardtop

      Fewer days off? One or two a month is already brutal. What we NEED to do is bring back the back to back one ticket price for two fucking games doubled header. Just like god intended.No more of this, “who will pay for gas in my third backup yacht if we loose revenue for 9 innings of baseball” bullshit.

      • Toosh

        Exactly! I think the schedule needs to go back to 154 games as well. The regular season is too long.

        • Brett

          I’d be on board with a shortened regular season – can’t see it happening, though.

          • Toosh

            Agreed. The owners won’t give up the revenue. Same thing for 2 games for the price of 1 doubleheaders.

  • Internet Random

    I’m all for re-alignment.

    <rant>The mere thought of expanded playoffs, however, makes me want to boot.  There’s no reason for it other than money.

    A world series was first necessary to crown a “best” team of the year.  Therefore, the team with the  best record from each league played in the world series.  Well and good.

    Then there was a split of the leagues into east and west divisions.  Okay, playoffs here are defensible, if not totally necessary.  With an eastern champ and a western champ, you’ve at least got a league playoff between champs.

    Then the leagues organized into three divisions each.  Even here, I think that the current playoff system is defensible.  Three divisional champs from each league.  And a wildcard from each league who has at least accomplished the feat of having the highest win percentage of any non-division-winning team… and usually this team has a higher win percentage than at least one of the division winners… so it makes sense to let them into the playoffs.

    Now what?  After the proposed re-alignment?  Five teams from each league in the playoffs, one of which will have done nothing special… it will be the first loser in the wildcard race.  Great.

    Expanding the playoffs will take them from being competitions among the best of the best, to being competitions among the best … and some other guys too.

    Not to mention the fact that fully 1/3 of teams would (will) then be in the playoffs each year.  I suppose that’s awesome if you’re MLB or an owner of one of the teams, but it’s shameless talent dilution in the name of a few extra bucks in my eyes.</rant>

    • EQ76

      I wholeheartedly agree with this.. and let me be clear.. I’d rather them leave the playoff set up as is, but it sounds like they will expand it regardless, and if so, might as well expand it the right way..

      • Internet Random

        I’m on board with that.  (And for shipping the Brewers back where they came from.)

    • Brett

      Would it be totally douchey of me to respond to such a long thought with this:

      It means as many as six to eight more fan bases will have something to actually care about in September. That’s good enough for me.

      • Internet Random

        No douchier than it is of me to point out that you’ve made a great argument to have all 30 teams in the playoffs.

        • Brett

          That’s WAY DOUCHIER!

          • Internet Random

            Oh yeah.  I’m on the board of directors at Massengill.

            • MichiganGoat

              I thought these comments seemed fresher than other not -so-fresh comments of previous posts.

    • necubsfan

      ” There’s no reason for it other than money.”

      Money is the only reason there is professional sports in the first place, just sayin’.

      • Internet Random

        There are (or should be) more important things than money.  That’s part of the reason you’re not allowed to auction off your kidneys in this country… or eat endangered species, no matter how much you’re willing to pay to do so.

        But even if you’re right, it changes nothing that I said.  Network television exists to make money too.  They might be able to make more money by filling 22 minutes of a 30-minute time slot with commercials instead of programming, which is what they do now.  That wouldn’t make it better.

        • Brett

          I don’t care what anyone says. The 100th-to-last dodo didn’t taste half as good as the last one.

        • Ian Afterbirth

          If you have enough money you can eat endangered species and buy kidneys, believe me.

          • Internet Random

            Whether you can is not the point.  It’s whether you’re allowed to.

      • Internet Random

        Money is the only reason there is professional sports in the first place, just sayin’.

        By the way, it’s not the only reason. Here’s another: People like to watch sports.

        • Brett

          …and because people like to watch sports, those who generate the sports are entitled to make money off of them.

          • Internet Random

            Agreed.  I’m not conflating necessary conditions with “only reasons”.

            But, more to the point:  Just because people make money doing something doesn’t mean there aren’t right/wrong, tasteful/distasteful ways to go about doing that thing.

            Just because I can make money with the designated-hitter rule, or selling crack to elementary school kids (which is worse?), doesn’t make them right.

            • Brett

              I won’t fight you on the reasoning – I’m just a fan of expanded playoffs. I hate hating September, and I would imagine the same is true for many other teams’ fans.

              • Internet Random

                I definitely see your point and concede that it’s a matter of taste (about which, as we all know, there’s no disputing).

                Do, however, let me add that the reason—like so many other things—that it’s desirable to get to the playoffs is that they’re exclusive.  Including more teams, by definition, makes them less exclusive.  At some point, they would get so watered down as to mean nothing, e.g., 30-team playoffs.

                I hope that I’ll change my mind when the 10-team playoffs get here (and I do think they’re inevitable… see “money” above), but right now, 10 seems to me like too many.

                The flip side of the coin, I know, is that, when it’s too exclusive, perhaps not enough people get to enjoy the benefits.  It’s hard to argue against “more joy”… but I’m obviously not beyond doing just that.  I’m universally disliked.

            • dreese

              I would fine with an extra team going into the playoffs from each league because I there are always some close races. I dont think the MLB will ever have a seahawks team (losing record) in the playoffs.

              DH is way worse, you should get locked up for that.

              • EQ76

                Well let’s realize that it’s about money and interest.. listen to national sports radio each day.. (MIke & Mike for example) they give 98% of their time to the NFL and any scandals going on and MLB gets a measly 5 minutes every Tuesday..

                MLB is falling in popularity.. we’re behind NFL, NCAA football, and often to the NBA..

                Most of us are purists in a way and wish baseball wouldn’t keep changing.. however , they almost have to change something to keep up with the other leagues and stay relevant.

                I personally love it enough to be happy with the current set up, but maybe adding a few teams will increase interest in the game.. shoot right  now since most of the playoff field is set, there’s more attention given to Payton Manning’s neck than anything in the MLB..

  • TSB

    I thought we already had a 162 game play-off.

    • Brett

      /college football argument

  • Nomar’s Left Glove

    Excuse me if I’m mistaken, but won’t this mean that the AL west would consist of 2 teams from Texas, 2 from California, and 1 from Washington? Just throwing it out there, but what about physically moving the Astros west before dropping them into the AL west? Vegas needs a sports team, and the Astros are easy to bet against. Just, saying…

    • hansman1982

      Vegas will NEVER get a baseball team so long as gambling is legal

      and they wouldnt get one right now if it wasnt because they are a 3rd world economy right now

  • Nomar’s Left Glove

    Send the Cards, that way my TV won’t be tainted by Larussa’s douche-iness.

  • die hard

    preview for upcoming series Mets v Cubs

    Nathan’s vs Chicago-style hot dog

    • Brett

      I would totally take you up on that if someone hadn’t already (repeatedly) requested Kate Upton for the Cubs. Maybe the Mets can still have Nathan’s.

  • auggie1955

    I kind of always hated the Astros, so normally I wouldn’t miss them if the were re-aligned to the AL. Except I have a cousin and her husband that moved to Houston a year ago and I would visit them when the Cubs were in town. If the Astros get moved to the AL, I’d have to wait for when they play one another in interleague play.

    As far as the playoff set up, I like it the way it is now. This has been a bad year in that most races are already decided.

    • Lou

      I agree I think some people on here are weighing their emotions about the new playoff system on the fact that the playoffs have mostly been decided. As a baseball fan, I just like the idea of pennant chases and want to see some good matchups like the Brewers/Braves. Problem is that this year it seems like a LONG wait to get to those match-ups because most of the races have already been decided. So, therefore, baseball should allow more teams a chance to compete in postseason play to get more people interested in Sept? Ummm….don’t think so.

  • philoe beddoe

    the biggest problem with the playoffs right now is they do not reflect the regular season…with all of the days off for TV teams only need three starters…I would like to see winning the pennant mean something again…I sound like an old-timer….

    I would like if they had just two big 8 and 7 team divisions..East and West in both leagues…you wouldn’t have these watered down division champs…and you would establish more rivalries(or re-establish I guess)…..

    • Brett

      And you’d have half of the teams irrevocably out of the race by July. That, in my humble opinion (and biased opinion, given my job), would suck. Hard.

  • Toosh

    Agreed, again. No more Wild Cards for me. Make the first 2 rounds of the playoffs best-of-3 with no off days except for West to East travel. The World Series should stay best-of-7. And how about more playoff games during the day?

  • die hard

    when a writer tries to appeal to everyone, the writer will appeal to no one….when a writer writes from the heart, the audience will know and respect that….if comparing hot dogs in advance of next series is in your heart then go with it….and to your critics you can say that meat is meat….

  • Bring_it_on

    154 game season would appease the purists. It would also for a radical format change allowing each club to play every other club twice per season in a home/away format for 3 games. Total fairness. That way you could have the top 12 teams play each other based on best record. And best record would mean something not just luck because of a weak division.

    I know it won’t happen.