It’s just like the good old days. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are supercharged — both teams are on pace for more than 100 wins, one will win the division while the other will be in the Wild Card Game — and the race between the peasants in the American League East in for third place.
It’s frustrating reality we’re all too familiar with. After a lovely stretch of about three years when the Yankees and Sox were both mediocre at the same time, things are back to normal with the two juggernauts with their never-ending bank accounts running the show. I do think Rogers could compete with fucking Boston financially but let’s not get into that today.
Anyways, Jayson Stark wrote a fucking graduate thesis over at The Athletic about what to expect from Major League Baseball in the next few years in regards to expansion and subsequent realignment.
Manfred has said that Major League Baseball wants to expand.
“I want to be clear about expansion,” Manfred said to Ken Rosenthal last month. We’ve made clear we have two big issues — Tampa Bay and Oakland — that need to be resolved before we think about it. But the fact of the matter is, we’re blessed. We’ve got cities out there that want to have Major League Baseball. And I think Major League Baseball has to show some receptivity to that because down the road, we are interested in it.”
In the article, he outlined a bunch of areas — in this order… Portland, North Carolina, Nashville, Montreal, San Antonio/Austin, Vegas, and Mexico City — who could bid for an expansion franchise. That’s not the important thing, though. I really couldn’t care less where the league goes — sorry, Montreal — but I want the league to expand to 32 teams because I want the resulting changes to divisional and playoff format that would inevitably follow.
Stark outlines a whole bunch of ways the league could change if the league grows to 32 teams and virtually all of them are good for the Jays. Well, at the very least, they’re better than the situation right now.
In a perfect world, you make the schedule equal. As of right now, the way the schedule is set up punishes the teams in the best division. Like, look at last year. Minnesota made the second wild card and I think a lot of it came down to the fact they got to play the shitty Royals, Tigers, and White Sox all year. The Jays have to play the Yankees and Red Sox a whole bunch more than the Twins did. Unfortunately, due to the reality of geography and travel, this scheduling isn’t going to change.
What the 32-team league could instead do is create eight divisions of four, akin to how the NFL is organized. This could work for the Jays or it could work against them. I mean, they could end up playing against Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh while the Yankees and Red Sox beat the shit out of the Phillies and Mets instead. Yes!!! Buuuuut the Jays could also end up in a four-team division with Boston, the Yankees, and the Mets, too. Nooo!!!
Regardless, the playoffs in a 32-team league would surely expand beyond the current 10-team format. Let’s face it — October pays. Most normal people don’t give a fuck about baseball games until late in the summer unless they’re watching on a hungover weekend day or they’re at the game enjoying a cold one in the sun. What everyone does love, though, is playoff ball. Adding more games to October (and subsequently shortening the season by a week or so) would likely do wonders for Major League Baseball’s TV deal.
Expanding to 16 teams in the playoffs like the NHL or the NBA might be a bit much. What makes the most sense is a 12-team, NFL style playoff. The top two teams in each league get a bye and then there’s a wild card round for the lower division winners and the two wild card teams. This wild card round could be a best of three, then the Divisional Series could be best of five, and the Championship Series and World Series could be a best-of-seven. That adds, what, like four days to the playoffs?
Regardless, the more playoff teams, the better. Also, if the league is going to stick with divisions and weighted schedules based on geography (it will), the switch could very likely end up pushing the Jays out of a division with both Boston and New York.