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Realignment: A Good Idea, Much Needed

While the idea is by all accounts far from actual implementation, it warmed my heart just a bit to see that MLB and the players are openly discussing the possibility of realignment. It’s an idea whose time has not only come, it’s past due.

Most of the talk about competitive imbalance in baseball tends to revolve around the need for a salary cap, and that’s as it should be. Baseball suffers for not having one. There is, however, no chance of that happening. Not without some kind of catastrophic disruption that gives the players no choice (something akin to the NHL lockout). Realignment, however — coupled with ditching the unbalanced schedule — would help almost as much.

It’d level the playing field by making life harder on teams in easy divisions and better for teams in heavily weighted divisions. Over 162 games under a more level competitive structure we’d know for certain that the teams who make it into the playoffs truly deserve to be there. And we’d no longer be able to point out that the Orioles would be a playoff contender if you dropped them in the AL West. Win-win.

That said, I’ll grant that not everyone might agree that the competitive balance angle is an issue here. Fair enough — it’s certainly debatable. So here’s the secondary argument for realignment and a balanced schedule: constantly being subjected to the Orioles playing the same teams over and over again is lame. Not only does it get boring, but it deprives fans of the chance to get a full sense of what else is out there. I’d love more games against teams like the Indians and Mariners and Twins for the simple sake of variety. Who wouldn’t?

And, oh yeah: fewer invasions of Yankee/Red Sox fans. Reason #3.

One argument I won’t make is about how bad the Orioles have been over the past 13 years. This isn’t about that. You compete under the rules as they are, not as you’d like them to be, or else you don’t compete. No, the issue here is fairness on a game-wide level. In that regard baseball has been coming up short for years.

As much as I’m ordinarily a staunch advocate for tradition and heritage, not everything always has to stay the same. Baseball has plenty to fall back on, and realignment would help secure a better future.

10 comments to Realignment: A Good Idea, Much Needed

  • neal s

    Looks like Scott Kazmir is on the market. I wouldn’t mind the O’s taking a flier on him if the price is right. Why not? It doesn’t seem like he has much left but he could be worth the risk on a cheap (or even cheapish) minor league deal.

  • Vlad to Meet You

    @ neal s:
    I was thinking the same thing when I first saw the Kazmir headline but I’ve had a chance to sleep on it and let it sink in and I think I’d rather pass for 3 reasons.
    1. Justin Ducshrerer (spelled wrong probably). We already have a guy we took a flier on this year and we’re 0 for 1.
    2. That seems to be the Oriole’s M.O. lately. Take somebody washed up or who had a good year years back and try to revive that talent. How has that worked out for us?
    3. His numbers weren’t bad this last year, they were atrocious. I didn’t look it up but I would like to see another pitcher with a fall off like his that ended up turning it around.

  • Vlad to Meet You

    The realignment would be nice. The one thing that concerns me about it are the Red Sox and Yankees. Now, between the AL East champ and the wild card both teams get in almost on a yearly basis. With the emergence of the Rays they’ve actually had to sweat it out and compete. That will be gone for those two. They will both be able to make playoff runs every year without really breaking much of a sweat. As I type this I feel a little depressed saying a team can make the playoffs without breaking a sweat and the Orioles can’t make .500 if their lives depended on it.

  • dan the man

    All for realignment. Baseball needs a shakeup pretty bad. Because once again, it’s the Yankees and Red Sox and Everyone Else. Lame.

    Speaking of lame: Canada. What the fuck? Why can’t we beat this assholes? They are the definition of a mediocre team, just like us. In fact, we may have more proven players. The O’s have to beat the Jays and the Rays before they can even think about beating the Yanks and Sox – it’s just not happening. Already lost 4 in a row again.

  • Mike R

    Along with realignment, it would put 15 teams in each league, meaning there would be always be an odd team out, and always an interleague game going on. I don’t mind interleague games. I gives you a chance to see some guys in person you normally wouldn’t. I mean Albert Pujols comes to the yard later this month. How cool is that. Also the NL MVP Joey Votto.

    I don’t know why the NL won’t go to the DH, or why the AL won’t do away with the DH. It’d be like in football if in the AFC you start 1st and 10 and the NFC you start 1st and 15, maybe, I don’t know.

    I’d be all for doing away with the DH. You get that extra bench spot, and it makes the manager have to manage more. With double switches you get more guys in the game. Someone like Ryan Adams who is rotting away on our bench would probably be getting in a couple games a week in the NL.

    Then again, in the days where money trumps all and a David Price or a Jon Lester may get hurt running the bases, it’ll never happen.

  • dan the man

    O’s tried real hard to lose this game, but they avoid the sweep. 2-4 against Toronto.

    Realignment is just one of those things that I’ll believe when it actually happens. Bud Selig likes to talk about being progressive, but the reality is that nothing will likely happen until he’s removed from his dusty chair. The dude seriously does nothing. He ignored the steroid thing until Congress got involved, and he implemented home-run replay. Attaboy, Bud.

  • Andrew

    Forgive me, but I don’t see how the proposed alignment plan solves any competitive imbalance issues.

    Those issues, frankly, are just that the Yankees and Red Sox are always on top of the AL East. No other teams really hold any kind of imbalance monopoly, so we’re complaining about them. But throwing everyone into a single 15 team division with 5 winners…would still leave the Yankees and Red Sox on top most years, and with more playoff spots, and less need to be #1 instead of, say, #4, it’d just make life easier for them.

    And we’d all still be in the same competitive imbalance boat. I suspect the counter-thought is that regardless of all that, the proposed plan would give the Orioles/Blue Jays/Rays a lot more opportunity to reach the postseason, and that’s true…but if we’re just going to be selfish and say we want realignment to benefit the Orioles, I’d have to point out that being in the AL East isn’t what’s kept the Orioles bad for nearly 15 years now. No, it’s that the Orioles aren’t run as smart as they need to be to be any good.

    So, I’m not seeing how realignment helps anything at all, except moving from up to 6 playoff races every year to up to 2. That sounds pretty lame, honestly.

  • dan the man

    I’m not big on the whole “no leagues” thing either, but I am in favor of extra playoff teams and a balanced schedule.

    Nats have won 6 straight. Should be an interesting stretch of interleague-ness. Remember when D-Cab used to just stand there and wait to be called out on strikes? Speaking of which, where is D-Cab these days…

    [searching]

    Last known appearance was in 2010 with AAA Salt Lake where he put up an 11.70 ERA over 10 IP in 3 starts.

  • Mike R

    They’re gonna pound out 20 hits and lose.

  • Mike R

    The last team to put up 20 hits and lose was in july of 2006. Shocker, it’s the Orioles, put up 22 in a 13-12 loss to Tampa Bay. They have 4 runs on 16 hits in the 7th. Could do it again. And now Michael Gonzalez is coming in. Might as well chalk it up…