Latest weird suggestion: Radically-realigned three-division league

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As noted yesterday, baseball doesn’t have any set ideas on what it will look like once it returns. It has thrown a lot of spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, but it continues to be in brainstorming stage.

Which is fine. I’d rather they brainstorm — the more public the brainstorming the better — so people who are affected by it directly can actually weigh in on the plans rather than have four guys in a room just declare that “X is going to happen.” Plus, it’s kind of fun to see some radical ideas tossed about.

The latest radical idea came out last night when Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that MLB has thought about starting in late June or early July with both the NL and AL totally scrapped and, in their places, a three-division setup consisting of 10 teams each with games being played in the actual home ballparks with no fans present.

The plan, Nightengale says, would eliminate the need for players to be in isolation and would allow them to still play at their home ballparks. At the same time, it would greatly reduce travel.

The setup would look like so, at least tentatively:

  • EAST: Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Blue Jays, Rays, Marlins
  • CENTRAL: Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Cardinals, Royals, Reds, Indians, Twins, Braves, Tigers
  • WEST: Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Athletics, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Rangers, Astros, Mariners

As far as split-up, I’d probably switch the Pirates and Braves, partially for geography, partially because it just feels wrong for the former to not be in the Central and the latter to not be in the East. Of course the Braves played in the National League West for like 25 years and the Pirates played in the NL East when divisions started in 1969, so what do I know?

As far as format, Nightengale says that the 10 teams in each division would only each another during the regular season. His sources say that they think they could get a 100 or 110-game season in under such a plan.

Again: we’re in brainstorming mode, so it’s probably not worth getting too invested, one way or another, on any plans like this we see. Still, I’m guessing players and team employees would prefer something like this to any of the Arizona/Florida based plans as it would at least allow them to stay in their homes and would prevent more complicated quarantining procedures we’ve heard talked about in other plans.

The biggest obstacle, of course, would be whether the states and cities in which all 30 teams would sign off on such a thing. My gut tells me, based on the handful of reopening timetables we’ve seen released by governors so far, such a thing could happen. If there are no fans, after all, how different would holding these games be than, say, opening an office or a distribution center?

I don’t know. Answers to that are best left to public health experts. For now, though, this at least gives us something interesting to discuss.