Change 'Em Up: D'Backs Could Move Leagues If MLB Adopts Realignment Plan
The D’Backs "could be the team most likely to change leagues" if MLB implements realignment in its new CBA, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. If the D'Backs joined the AL, the NL West "would have four teams, meaning the Astros would probably move there." Another realignment option “has the Astros moving to the AL West from the NL Central.” But outgoing Astros Owner Drayton McLane said that he “wants the team to stay in the NL" (USA TODAY, 6/14). D’Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall last night said that he “doubts his club would have to make the move -- and would prefer another team make the move.” Hall: “Naturally, we would look into it if asked about it. But I’m not sure we’d ever get to that point because I think other teams make more sense geographically than we do.” Hall added, "I would want to hear what our fans prefer, but I’m not sure we would ever get to that point” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/14). More Hall: “If asked, we will look into it if it’s in the best interests of baseball. However, we have to balance it against what is in the best interest of our fans.” He added, “I personally am a National League fan. … However, we would certainly gauge the interest of our fans, our season-ticket holders, to see if this is something that we should look into if asked” (MLB.com 6/13). Similarly, McLane said yesterday, "I've always been a National League guy. I think our fans are National League fans.” Asked if Astros fans supported a move to the AL, McLane said, "Absolutely not. In Houston, Richard Justice wrote if McLane “is against such a move, it’s not going to happen, at least not on his watch.” McLane has been one of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s "good soldiers, and no such realignment would be shoved on him.” Prospective Astros Owner Jim Crane is “not going to weigh in with an opinion until after he officially takes over" (CHRON.com, 6/14).
SEVERAL ISSUES TO OVERCOME: In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes MLB realignment "made sense in the 1990s, with the adoption of the wild card and the addition of four teams to the majors,” but now the players and owners “must decide if they should tweak the divisions again.” There is “strong sentiment for the postseason format to expand from four to five teams from each league, with or without realignment.” Expanding the postseason field "could be done more easily than realignment, which would require a schedule overhaul.” With 15 teams in each league, “baseball could not play a full schedule of games -- as it generally does five days a week -- without at least one interleague game” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/14). In Chicago, Steve Rosenbloom wrote while the "idea of two 15-team leagues seems fair, it actually stinks because you’d be forced to endure interleague play all season, all six months, all the way through division races.” Realignment "turns into a bloodbath in every league everywhere everytime." Rosenbloom: "Nobody wants to give up rivalries. Nobody wants to change time zones unless you’re Texas or any team that has a chance to move east to improve broadcast times. ... Realignment, then, is just idle talk” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 6/13).
SHIFTING THE LINEUP: In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes there are “plenty of teams that easily could move and probably benefit from it.” The Pirates “haven’t had a winning season” since ’92, making it a “great time to change leagues and start anew.” Also, the Brewers “have AL roots, moving to the NL in 1998 when the Rays and Diamondbacks entered the league.” Still, "any NL team heading to the AL likely will have to spend more on payroll because it would need the extra hitter." Cafardo: "It would be interesting to see whether the team chosen to move would receive some financial compensation or whether it would be on its own in having to fill the DH role” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/14). In California, Howard Cole wrote the Rockies “would make for a more competitive AL West in both the short and long-term, and quite frankly, give the division more personality.” Cole: “So move Colorado to the AL West and Houston to the NL West” (OCREGISTER.com, 6/13).