Prior to 1969, there were no divisions in either league. It was simple, a team had to finish with the best record in the league if they wanted to play in the World Series. The change to divisions forced the American League to split into an east (Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Washington Senators) and west (Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Pilots, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, and California Angels) division. So did the National League, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, New York Mets, and St. Louis Cardinals making up with east with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, and the Houston Astros making up the west.
The American League expanded by two teams before the 1977 season. The Toronto Blue Jays joined the AL East and the Seattle Mariners were added to the American League West. By this time, the Pilots had moved to Milwaukee to become the Brewers and the Senators became the Texas Rangers.
The National League expanded by two teams before the 1993 season with the Florida Marlins joining the National League East and the Colorado Rockies joining the NL West division. Baseball decided to realign the division format for the 1994 season, giving each league three divisions. The Expos, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, and Braves formed the NL East, the Cardinals, Astros, Cubs, Pirates, and Reds made up the newly formed National League Central, and the Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, and Padres made up the West. The American League had the east (Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Tigers), the central (Twins, Brewers, Royals, Indians, and White Sox) and the west (Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, and Angels).
Baseball would once again expand in time for the 1998 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks joining the National League West and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays added to the American League East. This would move the Tigers from the AL East to the AL Central and the Brewers from the AL Central to the NL Central. For the first time, the National League would have an advantage by having more teams (two) than the American League. (The American League had two more teams than the National League in 1961 and then again from 1977-1992.)
Prior to the 2013 season, it was determined that it was time to have the same amount of teams in each league. The only problem with this decision was that there was no way to have an even amount of games without having at least one inter league game scheduled every night of the baseball season (not counting off days). The Houston Astros moved from the National League Central to the American League West, making it six divisions of exactly five teams.
Baseball will benefit from the addition of two more teams, the only question is when it will happen. Inter league play can go back to being a novelty as opposed to thrown down the fans figurative throat every night. 50 more jobs would then exist for professional ballplayers, not to mention all the jobs added for the coaching staffs, minor league affiliates, and the front office personnel.
I suggest an expansion of two teams, one in each league, for the start of whatever season can be approved by major league baseball the soonest. This will change the total amount of MLB teams to 32 and set up the opportunity for there to be four divisions in each league with four teams in each division. Because of this, there is going to have to be some more realignment, hopefully the last that we will see for a while. My suggestion consists of three divisions that will be identical in each league (east, central, and west) and a north division in the American League and a south division in the National League. The AL East will have the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Blue Jays, while the NL East will have the Nationals, Phillies, Mets, and Pirates, who come over from the NL Central. The AL Central has the Indians, White Sox, Royals, and the Rangers, who come over from the AL West. The NL Central has the Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, and the Astros, coming from the AL West. The NL West has the Dodgers, Giants, Padres, and Rockies, while the AL West has the Angels, Athletics, Mariners, and the Diamondbacks (from the NL West).
Finally, the newly formed American League North division will have the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers (from the NL Central), and the newly re-formed Montreal Expos. The National League South will be composed of the Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays (from the AL East) and the brand new Nashville baseball team.
Though there is a lot of realignment, it is not really as bad as it seems. The Brewers are back in the American League, a place where they were for 28 years from 1969-1997. The Astros are back to the National League, a place where they were from 1962-2012. The Diamondbacks and Rays are the two MLB teams that have spent the least amount of time in each league, so their moves have the potential to be the least impact-full. While it sucks for the Montreal Expos to have to move to the American League, at least they have a team again, something that has not been the case for at least 13 years.
In order to best prepare for a new postseason, it would be imperative for the league to modify its playoff format. With 32 teams, I believe it make sense to add another postseason berth. Of course, that would have to be the fourth division winner in each league. I believe in keeping the two wild card format the same as it is. The only modification is the team with the best record in each league gets a first round bye, with the team with the best division record hosting the wild card winner in a best of three series. The next two division winners play each other setting up a division series with the winner playing the team with the best record in the league in the League Championship Series, which will be the best of seven games.
This will work great for the team with the best record in each league. If any team deserves a reward. it should be the team with the best record. Once again, before 1969, only the team with the best record in the league got to play in the postseason. The team with the best record goes to the League Championship Series. The wild card game remains one game, the first round of the playoffs becomes a best of three with the winners advancing to a five game League Division Series.
If this happens, it will be my hope that there can be some compromise to the amount of games during the regular season. My suggestion is to drop six games from the schedule, making the total amount of regular season games 156. This allows for the extra time it will take to add a best of three series after the wild card game.
There is yet another, simpler option. How about just reward the four division winners and eliminate the wild card format altogether? The only concern I have over this is the whole "weak division argument" that we hear in the National Football League as well as occasional in basketball and hockey. I am leaning towards the less complicated four division winner, 0 wild card format. Odds are, it will face some criticism as well. Please comment and let me know your opinion on expansion in major league baseball.