Could MLB Follow the NFL’s Lead and Form a “NASCAR” Division?

 

There has been a bit of a discussion lately about maybe taking the Boston and New York factor in the American League East and splitting them up into another division, maybe something as simple as swapping a team from the American League East and National League East to offset the goliath’s of that one division, which give no one else a chance to rise to the top.

But I have another idea. I have an idea that has worked for another professional sport in the United States to “level the playing field” a little more, and has produced a League Champion out of it.

 
 

People were a bit confused when the National Football League decided to invent another division situated almost exclusively within the Southeastern region of the country. The moment this region was even considered for a divisional alignment, or structuring of such an adventure, people began to call it the “NASCAR Division“.
 

And I really do not have a problem with that at all. Because even though that statement was effectively the rest of the country stereotyping this region, NASCAR is a symbol of this region….So it was a backhanded compliment to Southerner’s like me. And, yes, I have been known to attend the Daytona NASCAR races, and I do glance at the television on Sunday to see how the races are going throughout the day, but I am a outside NASCAR fan.

 

But the formation of this Southeastern division actually helped the entire NFL membership get closer to a level of league parity, which baseball might need to approach in the near future if it expects all 30 Major League Baseball teams to flourish and grow fiscally as well as physically. And this might be the right course of action if the MLB brass doesn’t want to see a revolving door of at least a couple of the top money payroll teams sprinting towards the Playoffs finish line every October.

 

Except for the odd twist of fate in the last few years that Colorado and Tampa Bay got their first shots to show their stuff in the World Series, the pattern of eventual winners shows that money buys Championships, not heart, home grown talent and determination. And maybe a fourth division in the American or National League would seem to throw the whole globe off its axis and we go wobbling through our orbits tumbling like a deflated ball among the Milk Way.

 

But I think we have already started that dizzying journey and have not recognized it yet. One team has been in the World Series the last three years, and granted, they have a great wealth of talent, but they also spent a boatload of cash each year to ensure they have that level of talent. That is why it is great to see teams like the Rockies and Rays make a stab at the big prize. And even when they do falter, it is not for lack of pride, courage or the will to win, but missing that million dollar piece that the top 5 payroll teams have secured with a contract with 8 numbers behind it.

 

So what did I have in mind to maybe change this? Well, first off, I would like to introduce the idea of taking one team from every division both in the AL and NL, but the AL West, which already is lopsided with only 4 teams. I actually think that division will be a shootout in 2010 and expect that division’s champion to be as tough as anyone in the 2010 Playoffs. And you might ask why I want to dissect a team from each division? To be completely honest, it would then make most of the other divisions a four-team division, with the NL Central lowered to five teams.

 

So you already know that I want the Tampa Bay Rays to be included in this new division, and with them in the AL, we can still hold onto the Designated Hitter rule. And I think this actually would produce a few more jobs for some of the guys currently on the bench of the three squads plucked off the NL divisions, thus making it more attractive for some of their guys to get more exposure. The Rays are prefect for this new division because of the new division will be rooted in the SE, and only one other city more Southern than St. Petersburg, Florida.

And because the Rays are considered a small market team, it gives them a bit of payroll flexibility knowing that they will not have to adjust and implode their own cash box every year to keep up with the Epstein’s and Steinbrenner’s of the AL East any longer.

 

The second team I would select would establish a great Southern rivalry like annual Florida-Georgia College Football game and could also be billed as the “Battle for I-75 Supremacy”. I am talking about seeing the famous Tomahawk Chop going on right next to the deafening sound of the multitudes of Cowbells. This expected rivalry could easily replace the lost revenues of either Boston or New York based just on the previous sell out crowds at Tropicana Field the last time these two teams faced off here.

 

 

The Atlanta Braves would be the perfect new nemesis of the Rays. And pop on top of this the addition of

17-18 games between the two teams, this would easily explode this rivalry towards the top spots within 5 years.

And you might question why I did not take the Florida (Miami) Marlins and want to place them in this division. Well, they are an instant Inter-League foe of the Rays, and I did not want to ruin that great relationship and also split up a AL and NL presence in the state of Florida. I think this state is better for the duo league presence, and I want to preserve that relationship just as it is right now.

 

Third squad to be added to this division would come out of the AL Central. Now I did not have to take any long period of time to think about this one because it came to me the moment I looked at the division. The Kansas City Royals would be my choice immediately based on the simple fact they are also a small market squad and would benefit extremely by being in the same division as the Rays.
 

And the relationship between these two AL teams is already formed, but it is also close enough within the geographical region of the Southern part of the country to make same day flights and televised games a viable options for both teams.

 

Fourth team to be added would come out of the NL Central division and take their division down to four teams for the first time in a long while. And I thought long and hard as to if I wanted to realign the entire MLB a bit, or just select this one team and end the debate fast and furious on which of the Texas teams would get an invite to the NASCAR division. I thought the team that would get the most out of the move would be the Houston Astros. Not only would they be able to convert to the D H system easily, they have the talent in-house already to pop a great DH in the line-up as early as 2011.

 

And I also think that the teams on this divisional “wish list” also have great stadiums with a awesome home team presence, and would be totally conducive to building new rivalries and expanding their team concepts without minimal changes. But I also toyed with the idea of adding a fifth team to this division. I really thought long and hard about it, and even thought about all the positives and negatives. I am still up in the air about it, but I will discuss it here just to see if anyone else in on board with this idea.

 

If I did even attempt to take a team out of the NL West would I take our Expansion mate, the Arizona Diamondbacks , or would I venture up towards Denver and maybe try and entice the Colorado Rockies to come play in Florida 8+ times a year? This one was a hard decision, because each of these teams has the talent and the abilities to go for the top spots every year.

But I know that taking a team out of that NL West will give the teams currently developing great talent like the San Francisco Giants or San Diego Padres a chance to breathe a bit and strive to know they have a chance every year at the Playoff race. But I am torn to include either of them as a fifth team and make a new division lopsided like the NL Central. But this is just a blueprint in pencil on a bar napkin compared to anything that might be currently being discussed at the Major League level.

 

And maybe the dynamic duo of New York and Boston do not have to be split up, for competition’s sake. Maybe they can co-exist in their current high profile, high dollars payroll games and provide nice revenue sharing cushions for most of the team in this new division. Breaking up those two would be like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie taking the kids and moving to the far ends of the earth from each other.

 

Splitting those two teams apart would destroy 100 years of tradition and insults, plots and inside jokes that have been passed down for generations, and make them worthless but for a small handful of games a season. Some would say it would intensify the rivalry, but this is one that doesn’t need fuel to the fire, it is already white hot.

But it would also ruin a natural geographic alignment that the AL East would take on spreading from Toronto, Canada to Baltimore, Maryland and keep those divisional foes tight and more bonded towards defeating the other.

 

I like this division. It will have speed, defense and a ton of raw young talent. Most of the teams that would comprise this division have been great hotbeds of farm talent, and that talent would get a chance to rise to the top instead of each teaming trying to raise the bar and one-up each other to the umpteen time.

It would be a hotbed of base stealers, plus a great maturation oven for young pitchers just on the cusp of greatness. It is a division I not only would pay money to see at Tropicana Field, but also one I would definitely travel to other cities to see play our Rays. And that in turn, would help these small market teams keep their coffers filled to pay their young players to stay with their teams past their arbitration years….It is a “win-win” proposition.

 

32 Comments

Interesting ideas…although, as someone who is not a race fan, I may cringe at naming a division Nascar ;o) As for the Braves, you can have them…they always give me a headache…lol

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Jenn,
I was also toying with the idea “BBQ Division”,but decided some people might not think we do that in Florida.
Braves actually are the third best draw in the MLB for the Rays in the regular season/InterLeague.
I think they make easy mates for the Rays, plus give a great rivalry standing point from Day One.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I’m not a huge NASCAR fan, but it is an interesting idea.
Brady-
http://5toolblog.mlblogs.com/

Splitting up the Red Sox and Yankees would be stupid. I find it commical that you say NASCAR divison. I am not a NASCAR fan, but it’s funny.
http://www.bestbostonsports.com/
Total Bases

So maybe I read it wrong then… wasn’t as you said Nascar division the nickname used by people… and a proposed name for a suggested AL South… or maybe I did read it all wrong…. anyway… I think they could move a couple of teams around and do something like that…..change can be a good thing….

~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

That’s the freshest idea I’ve heard yet. You’ve preserved league integrities and rivalries without much commotion. I’d even venture to guess HOU, ATL and KC might even welcome the idea. Send it up the channels! I agree with you prefering NL and AL in Florida.
Mike

Brady,
I always look at thing a bit simple so as to not confuse myself most of the time.
But we forget, it if wasn’t for someone bringing up an idea we might still be livivng in a cave with fur clothing and maybe not have fire yet.
Imagination and determination can produce anything, even a MLB re-alignment.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Total Bases,
I gathered that phrase basically because theat is what most NFL fans called the new Southern Division of the NFC when it first was announced.
I am a guy who channel-jumps and check on his NASCAR Fantasy team because it is just another form of Fantasy sports with ESPN.
I was a NASCAR fan until Dale Earnhardt Sr. passed away after his wreck in the Daytona 500.
I lost a huge amount of passion for the sport that day because I lost someone I met once at a race and liked his style, his intimidation factor and his kindness.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Peter,
The NFL fans were the first to call their new division in the NFC, the “NASCAR” Division which consisted of NASCAR rich Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, but also had Tampa Bay and New Orleans in its clutches.
It was a tongue-in-cheek reference from people from above the Mason-Dixon line, not one that is widely viewed as ultra positive by people like me who are born here.
It is just a thought as to my opinion on the changes that can be positive, or maybe open the lines of discussion.
Not looking for credit or even being asked to come to New York City, just trying to get the best for my team.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mike,
I actually thought about it a bit and tried to put the teams together that I realistically think will fall prey to deep divisions and deserve a shot at a Playoff spot.
Of course all three will like the arrangement, I did it to basically make an alomst all small market division, with the exception of Atlanta.
I wish I could send it up the channels, but they do not know people like me are even alive in Florida, much less making sense on a blog (lol).
NL and AL need to have a separate voice in the MLB in Florida. That makes for every retiring fan happy they can see their league either live or on television.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Not a NASCAR fan, but why not? Sounds good to me. Thanks for talking to the Thunder Gods in Florida for me. Last night was a bear getting in, but today the sun is shining here in Florida!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
Not sure why people are focused on the NASCAR angle. That is only the NFL fan’s take on the Southern NFC Division because of their locale.
But, like I said in an earlier post, did not want to name it the BBQ Division, but that might have been more….accurate since some of the best BBQ comes out of Texas, Missouri and every state east of the Mississippi River.
Thunder Gods owed me, now we are even.
Glad Captain Woody got you safely to O-town.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

So does that mean that the NL stays with three? Interesting. I like your idea of your Rays getting out of the East. However, it does not help my Blue Jays. As we are stuck with Yanks, Red Sox for good. I personally can’t see a re- alignment that would help the Jays. Unless we have the great lakes division. Just off the top of my head, it would include: Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, and the Chicago White Sox. Say, perhaps I’ll right a blog about that.
Thanks again for the interesting read.

Change comes from ideas. Props to you brotha for thinking way outside the box. You’ll never please everyone but you can tell you tried. Great entry…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

Interesting idea… I still think we’re probably farther off from radical realignment than we are colonizing Mars, but that’s just me. Trouble for teams like the Rays is this: the Yankees and Red Sox are stacked for years and years to come.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Can we call the NHL Southeast divison the NASCAR divison? ;)
Fun fact: racecar spelled backwards is racecar! :D

Schleg,
I would love to read another scenario.
This is just my take from a purely “Southern” part of the country prospective.
“Great Lakes” division. That might get the Cubs back to the playoffs (lol).
Looking forward to seeing that blog.
Ideas are like anything else….always seem good until you have to physically put them into action.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

D,
Well, sometimes big thinker throw their ideas and nothing happens.
I throw ideas around and see what sticks to the wall….like al dente pasta.
I would actually like coming out to Denver a few times a year. Not for the snow, but to see the Ranter at his “A” game shagging balls.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Totalbases,
You can called the Tampa Bay Lightning’s division anything you want.
Thanks goodness they are playing better and in the hunt for that 8th slot for a possible playoff run again.
Got to say, I like the Lightning, but I am not a supporter of those Bucs in the least bit.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Bruins will beat the Lightning out… I hope. I was at a Bruins-Lightning game earlier this year. 5-4. Had a 5-0 lead…. I have met a lot of Tampa bay sports fans in Florida who tell me the same thing. Rays and Lightning, but no Bucs. Hey, they won two games thisyear ;) Lightning won the Cup in 2004. My Bruins haven’t won it since 1972. Last year was their chance, man…

So now, I’m confused. Would there be 4 divisions in the AL and 3 in the NL? How many teams would be in each division then? The idea has potential, but I need answers!

http://thepitchersduel.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
I think and radical alignment is way off too, but I had an idea and decided what better way to hear what is going on that pop it online and see what gets torn from it.
But this idea does take some of the lop-sided divisions and gives them all better mixture to see some of the guys caught in the middle rising to the top at times.
And that is the ultimate quest of this re-alignment to see the Giants,Royals, Braves and Rays be still fighting deep into the year for a spot.
Also makes great ethusiasm for attendance.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Christine,
I stopped following hockey when my buddy Brian Bradley quit the game, so I am not totally up on the latest, but if you are in slots 6-8, then it is your to lose.
And if the Lightning lose out of those slots, than it was meant to be….
I have not been to a Bucs game or will attend a Bucs game in my life.
I hated their first management for their racial mentality, and because of some personal stuff only my friends know about….end of story.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Pitcher’s Duel,
Yeah, there will be 4 divisions in the AL in this scenario, but I was thinking by the time anyone even thought of adapting a plan even remotely feasible like this, the MLB brass might have an expansion idea in their brains too.
Seriously, this is all fiction, which I wish could somehow become some sense of rality, but it is far-fetched at best.
But then again, walking on the moon, or even traveling the speed od sound were once unfathomable too.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Ah, yes, taking the great moneyspender D-Backs out of the NL west will make a change. They have fewer fans, so I’d pick them over the Rox anytime. New foes, man. But I like everything not solely based on geography like the NHL is. Cause if your team doesn’t play near you, you only see them once every year or two. Granted, that’s how often I see the D-Backs anyway.

Raysrenagade, which NFL team do you like? Go Pats.

Christine,
I can tell you are new to reading my blog.
I have three teams, two of them are because of the cities they are located in because during my career, I have loved staying in those two cities. Seattle and New Orleans have a geographic part of my heart, but Indianapolis is where I made my bread and butter for almost three NFL seasons after leaving Baylor University.
So,guess you can say I was super happy with the 2010 Superbowl, and I did want to see “Whodat Nation” celebrate 9 days early for Mardi Gras.
Small footnote, I chose football over baeball in college, and I have regretted it since 1988.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cliff,
I like your analogy of thowing ideas around and see what sticks to the wall…like al dente pasta. LOL. I got to use that next time I come out with a crazy idea. Not that I am saying your idea is crazy. Submitt it to the comish and see what sticks.
.
I see we are in the same division in our BF league. Should be fun!
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Yeah, I’m new here, LOL. I really hate the idea of splitting the Sox and Yankees. That is the greatest rivalry in sports (Sox-Rays is a close second)
Total Bases
BestBostonSports.com

Xcicix,
It really is not about money here. Not at all.
I originally thought up this concept because these 5 teams have playoff type talent, but are sunk below teams with mega thick wallets who do not build their farm systems for ther teams, but use them more as trade pawns, then fixtures for their team.
Some mighat argue that a balanced schedule would prevent this, but those 18 games each against the Yankees and Red Sox basically decides who makes the playoffs for the Rays.
Same with the other divisions, their inner-divisional player determines so much.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Christine,
I agree with you on splitting the Yankees and Red Sox up would ruin one of the most intense rivalries in baseball.
But think of what kind of team Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Toronto would have if they spent even $ 100 million each a season.
Toronto tried it, to disasterious results a few years ago, but it takes more than money to win it all in MLB. But the reason I think splitting these teams up will provide parity to the division foes still left, plus add a sense of maybe someone besides the AL East will win the American League Championship in 2010.
Just my thoughts.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Emma,
I wish I could submit something to some one, but the reality is that the Internet is the only forum you will ever see my thoughts/ideas.
But that is my lot in life….could be worse, could be raining.
I am just one of those guys who can come up wirh great ideas, but do not have the resources to get it past the first obstacle.
Maybe someday some one will get an idea like this to the big wigs….Me, my meeting with the Commissoner will start and end right here.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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