With 16 teams in the NL and 14 teams in AL and 2 unbalanced divisions it is time for baseball to expand to 32 teams and go back to its past and eliminate the wild card. Now i know some will argue that the wild card saved baseball in the mid 90's, but i think with this expansion plan most will agree a wild card will not be needed. My plan is to have an equal 16 teams per League split into 8, 4 team divisions. the 4 division winners in each league would make the playoffs thus keeping the divisional series intact. My argument toward eliminating the wild card is that in this scenario if you cannot win a 4 team division after 162 games do you really deserve a shot at winning the World Series?
The next step in this blog would be to determine what cities would be considered for expansion and then pick 2...
Charlotte - Though the city has fallen on some tough financial times it is still around the 18th largest city in the country and home of many corporations including two banks, Wachovia (wells fargo), and Bank of America...You could also argue that a team in Carolina could have massive regional appeal, a team with the name of carolina would be supported by south virginia, north carolina, and south carolina. Look at how the region has embraced the Carolina Panthers.
Nashville - A good sized city with a population around 700,000 and the metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, more than enough to support a baseball team with a 35,000 seat stadium. The city of Nashville has shown its ability to support a professional team with the Titans, but have also seen them not support a team with the predators. It also is a city with phenomenal culture which is something i think baseball looks for.
Montreal - The team was supported well in the early years and even in the early 90's but when the lockout occurred it seemed to turn off the fans for good, a lockout during the teams greatest season and an aging stadium are not a combination. I think baseball wanted to make it work in Montreal and may have interest in returning
New Jersey/Southern Connecticut - I feel New Jersey not southern Connecticut could be an option the market is obviously their for a 3rd well 4th team if you count Philly, but i don't think baseball would be wise not bring in new markets with expansion.
Memphis - I have heard this city argued for but i am not buying it, so i wont make an argument for.
New Orleans - another possibility but im not sure the interest is their from the city.
Portland - with a population of over 500,000 and a metropolitan population of over 2.3 million. Portland has supported the blazers tremendously, and i don't think the city is too big for two major franchises (not including MLS). I am not sure a stadium deal could get done in Portland though after watching them battle over an MLS stadium and a new minor league baseball stadium.
San Antonio- the 2nd largest city in texas and the 7th in the country with a population around 1.3 million San Antonio could be a player for the 31st or 32nd franchise in MLB. They have made plays for the Marlins in the past so the interest from the city is their and I think MLB has interest in the city as well. They support the Spurs extremely well and supported the Saints when they were there well. I think Baseball could be successful in San Antonio.
Vancouver - about the same size as Portland but after the olympics this city will have beautiful new facilities, more public recognition and maybe some interest from MLB. MLB is clearly interested expanding there game international and Vancouver could be a nice next step. But i am not sure a market for baseball exist within the locals.
Monterrey Mexico - Was explored when the nationals moved to DC but i am not sold in todays time any player would want to play south of the border with all the cartels etc.
Las Vegas - Will never happen
In the end i think Charlotte and Portland get selected(San Antonio if a stadium deal could not get done)
The division breakdown would end up like this
Arizona Diamondbacks (move from NL)
California A's (no telling where they will be playing San Jose, Oakland, or Fremont)
Miami Marlins (Changing name to miami in 2012)
St. Louis Cardinals
San Diego Padres
In conclusion this would expand major league baseballs footprint in the US as well as make baseballs playoffs the purist in all of sports by eliminating the wild card. I can't wait to hear all of your thoughts on the potential expansion candidates, divisional realignment, and the elimination of the wild card.