So what do you think about the realignment thing?

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As Drew wrote over the weekend and as everyone has been talking about since, Major League Baseball is considering realignment. There are a couple of flavors to it:  either just having the Astros moving to the AL or having that happen plus the elimination of divisions.  As has frequently been noted in these reports, that this will happen is no sure bet. It’s just something on the table.

My initial reaction to it all is cautious optimism. I agree with Drew’s take about it being unfair that some teams are in a four team division and others in a six team division.  I don’t have a visceral problem with an interleague series taking place at all times because, by this point, interleague has been around long enough to where it isn’t remarkable. Maybe if there is more overall interleague play it will allow the unfairness of teams in the same division playing interleague slates of varying difficulty to be fixed a bit.

As I’ve written a few times recently, I also like the notion of divisions being eliminated and the top four or five (if they insist on an expanded playoffs) teams making the playoffs. This would help some AL East teams or others who, in the future, may have to deal with a would-be divisional foe with a massive spending advantage. And would help reduce the possibility of a truly wretched team from  making the playoffs. If it did happen you’d almost have to balance the schedules, it seems, and I’m not sure that baseball is willing to take Red Sox-Yankees games off the schedule.

My biggest area of concern is less of a competitive concern than it is of a business concern, and it may very well be the reason this doesn’t happen:  as of now we have multiple playoff races, even if they’re diminished somewhat due to the wild card and playoff expansion.  If you go to a “take the top five teams” scenario, would it not make it likely that, in several years, you’d really only have one playoff race, and that’s for the fifth best record in each league?  Not exactly riveting, and it could have a negative impact at the gate.

But like I said, I haven’t wrapped my brain around it yet and, unless and until there is a concrete proposal out there with some non-trivial chance at passing, I’m not sure I want to invest more brain time in it.

But I do want to know what you think, so let’s do this totally unscientifically with a quickie internet poll.  More importantly, let’s talk about it in the comments.

Braves clinch NL East title

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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.