MLB may combine AL and NL into three divisions, open season in early July

Just doesn’t seem right that thousands of vibrant American businesses will fail because of the pandemic and yet this unwatchable sport crawls on, a shadow of its former glory in the dreary era of sabermetrics, aggressive cheating, and “three true outcomes.”

A sport which its own management clearly dislikes, since they’re forever tinkering with the rules to try to “spice it up.”

If they somehow manage to put players on the field in June and July, I feel like we’re going to have weeks of excited hype beforehand that sports is back! followed by a letdown four or five games into season like, “Oh, right. This.”

I don’t understand the logic of league realignment here either. Is it just a gimmick to pique fans’ interest? That would fit with MLB’s general belief that fans no longer want to watch baseball as-is.

Major League Baseball officials have become cautiously optimistic this week that the season will start in late June, and no later than July 2, playing at least 100 regular-season games, according to three executives with knowledge of the talks. They requested anonymity because the plan is still under consideration.

And not only would baseball be played, but it would be played in their own major-league ballparks, albeit with no fans.

MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography…

MLB officials are hoping it won’t be necessary to quarantine players, and normalcy will prevail once the regular season commences, but the schedule and playoff format promises to be dramatically different.

“It’s all coming together,’’ said one official to USA Today. “I’m very optimistic.” I’m not. What happens when a player inevitably gets infected? Does the team cancel games for two weeks and self-quarantine? What about the teams that player’s team played against over the previous seven days? If one of more teams have to self-quarantine, what does that do to the schedule? Assuming every team carries 40 players, that’s 1,200 separate vectors of transmission — not including coaches, supporting personnel, and so on. It’s going to happen. What’s the plan when it does?

Follow the link to see the proposed realignment. Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Phillies (among others) together in the “East,” Dodgers, Astros, Giants, and A’s (among others) together in the “West,” and Cubs, Cardinals, Indians, and Braves (among others) together in the “Central.” But … why? The idea is to “severely” reduce travel by grouping teams together regionally, but it’s not like those regions are tightly clustered. They’re not going to be traveling by bus. Atlanta and Minnesota would be in the same division. So would Toronto and Miami. So would Houston and Seattle. (They’re in the same division in normal times too.) Air travel will be necessary — which is okay, since each of these teams fly on their own chartered planes and don’t need to worry about contamination by the public.

But in that case, if they can fly more or less safely, and if they’re playing in their home ballparks, why do we need realignment? Just keep the familiar league/division structure. The only thing realignment gets you is an opportunity to play a few more games: If the season starts in July and most teams only need to fly an hour or two to play every other team in their new division, some “travel days” can be omitted from the schedule. But not all of them, and players surely can’t be expected to play every single day for three months anyway. They might as well just play an 81-game season and retain the traditional divisions. Unless, as I say, MLB thinks its big return isn’t interesting enough for fans in its own right and needs a stunt to goose the public.

We’ll probably end up stuck with this Frankenstein divisional realignment forever as players decide they really like not having to fly six hours overnight after a game for their next series. As for playing in front of empty stadiums, that’s the way things have been trending naturally. All this will do is accelerate it a bit.

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