MLB Teams: Rename Some; Realign All!

map-united-states

About once every decade, I come back to three of my favorite intertwined baseball topics. I sometimes write about these, but not so much because I think mine or any of our opinions will change the baseball powers-that-be on these subjects. I write because it’s much more like Hank Williams, Jr. explains when he talks about his need to boogie-woogie: “It’s in me and I gotta get it out!”

The topics are the Designated Hitter (DH) rule,  team renaming, and league and division realignment along sensible regional lines. Years ago, I wouldn’t have considered realignment. I was always a National League guy who wanted to keep the Senior Circuit as close to the way it had always been set up as possible. Now it doesn’t matter anymore. MLB has gotten rid of the two league offices; eliminated their separate league umpiring crews; done away with each of their uniquely labeled American and National League baseballs; and, oh my gosh, added inter-league play to the schedule. So, why bother defending a distinction of traditional league identities that no longer truly exists – nor matters – except for one thorny real difference: The American League still has the dadgum “Designated Hitter” rule while  the National League continues to play real baseball by the same basic rules that once governed the careers of great pitchers like Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.  Those two guys pitched in different leagues, but they both also had to bat on their ways to the future Hall of Fame. And managers back then, as they still do in the National League, had to take into account his pitcher as a batter as he planned his strategy for the whole game. As for as I’m concerned, all the “DH” rule does is gut the major strategy question any manager has to face in every tight game and throw the whole thing closer into autopilot play.

My realignment plan brushes aside the reality of the “DH” rule and treats it as resolved on the side of dissolution, Players’ Unon protests be damned. Just add a player to the roster in exchange for abandoning the “DH” rule before some foot-stumbling hitting bozo bats his way into the Hall of Fame without ever taking the field of play on defense in a big league game. If you can’t play offense and defense, you’re not a whole ballplayer in my book. Hey! If you want to get involved in a platoon sport, go play in or stay home and watch the National Football League, but get the heck away from the traditional game of baseball that so many of us still love for its expectation of wholeness from the players and managers.

That being said, here’s my League and Division Realignment Plan, one that excludes the “DH” rule and inter-league play. I don’t need to see the Yankees in the regular season. I want to see my club, the Houston Astros, play the Yankees for all the marbles in the main event, that big show I hope we shall always call and honor as The World Series. That’s when you want to play the Yankees, when your club has earned its way to the big showdown – and not just because it’s my team’s rotating time to have a big gate because the Yankees, or Red Sox, or on the schedule this year.

One more thing: My plan renames some of the teams to what they should’ve been called from the start. My renamings take away these marketing stretches that presume naming your club for the entire state, or some nearby larger city, will increase a club’s fan base. To that, I say, let the clubs be who they really are – and people will still come see them – and in even greater numbers because the fans always know when they are going to see a team that is now flying its true geographic identity.

I only make two exceptions to this basic identity rule that favors city name and traditional mascot adoptions. The Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers are perfectly named for the dual major city fan bases they each serve. The rest of the “state and next-door big city” named clubs need to shake off the phoniness and just be who they really are.

Here’s my current realignment suggestion, based on the present thirty existing (but some now renamed) big league clubs:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East Division: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies.

South Division: Atlanta Braves,  Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, Tampa Tarpons, Washington Nationals.

Central Division: Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Central  Division: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers.

Gateway West Division: Denver Bears, Kansas City Royals, Phoenix Firebirds, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals.

Far West Division: Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners.

There. I got it out. Now I feel better about this whole first decade of the 21st Century. It’s not perfect. Nothing is. Pittsburgh isn’t exactly “central” to anything in the contiguous USA, nor is San Diego anything close to a western “gateway,” except to and from Mexico, but the whole plan is still, overall, a lot closer to a geographic fit than anything we have going for us now, I think. Please feel free to comment below with your own thoughts on team names, the “DH”, and realignment. I’d love to hear them.

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6 Responses to “MLB Teams: Rename Some; Realign All!”

  1. Wayne Williams Says:

    Bill: Glad to see you got rid of the Colorado Rockies and gave us back the Denver Bears. Re today’s game in Philadelphia, go Bears! Hope to see you in St.Louis today for the Browns Reunion. Will probably be the last. Wayne Williams

  2. Tal Smith Says:

    I like it geographically, but without inter-league play two 15-team leagues are going to present major scheduling difficulties. And, the odd-team is, in all probability, going to be idle, not just for a day, but for the length of the series in which the other 14 teams are participating. There are normally 54 series per season for each team. So, this would mean each club would have a 3 or 4 day bye four times a year.

  3. shaun bijani Says:

    Bill, i have to agree with Tal, two 15-team leagues couldnt work. I do love the idea though, its original, some of the team names would have to grow on me all over again, but heck, anything to get rid of the DH rule. what a joke. and you hit it right on the head with interleague play. that was and is strictly an economic decision by good ole Bud. didnt you know, it’s all about the money now. if anything ever did change, the damage has been done, and what made this game special once…will either take a very long time to even begin to mend the holes, or it will be deemed broken forever… nevertheless, heres to the great game of baseball, a good and productive off season for my astros, and an electrifying post season for all of baseball….hope the yankees can win it all for the #1 Browns fan himself…the late, great…Art Richman! P.S. hope this isnt the last Browns reunion….i want to make it up there for another one! they always say its the last one anyway….i am worried that people take that for granted….keep it going Brownies!

  4. Bill McCurdy Says:

    I stand corrected on the scheduling problems created by two fifteen team leagues with no inter-league play. I’d favor adding a team to each league to make equal scheduling possible, but I can’t think that’s a good idea in this economy. For now, I would be willing to concede a limited amount of inter-league play as a scheduling solution in exchange for a realignment somewhere along the lines I’m suggesting.

  5. ron Says:

    Better watch out Billy. This makes way to much sense. Travel groups would go “broke”.

    Christopher Kid ’51.

  6. 2010 in review « The Pecan Park Eagle Says:

    […] The busiest day of the year was April 12th with 711 views. The most popular post that day was MLB Teams: Rename Some; Realign All!. […]

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