Ken Rosenthal took a stab at a radical realignment scheme a few weeks ago, and most people who think about the game have come up with their own plan from time to time, but this story from Tom Verducci is the first I’ve heard of someone with even quasi-authority mulling it over. The quasi-authority is Bud’s “special committee for on-field matters,” which reportedly discussed a radical form of “floating” realignment in which teams would not be
fixed to a division, but free to change divisions from year-to-year
based on “geography, payroll and their plans to contend or not.” One possible example:
One example of floating realignment, according to one insider, would
work this way: Cleveland, which is rebuilding with a reduced payroll,
could opt to leave the AL Central to play in the AL East. The Indians
would benefit from an unbalanced schedule that would give them a total
of 18 lucrative home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox instead of
their current eight. A small or mid-market contender, such as Tampa Bay
or Baltimore, could move to the AL Central to get a better crack at
postseason play instead of continually fighting against the
mega-payrolls of New York and Boston.
Worth noting that this was just the stuff of brainstorming and no one is seriously considering it. That said, it’s pretty damn bad brainstorming. It’s bad enough when a team gives up on the season as it is. Formalizing a capitulation in such a matter would all but ensure that attendance went through the floor and that fans look to spend their summer entertainment dollar elsewhere.
Indeed, the first time a team decided to move to the AL East because they didn’t plan to compete, only to have the team get a little frisky and fall a few games short of the playoffs — which they would have likely made if they had stayed back home in their division — people would riot.