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After next season the Houston Astros will play in the American League West. Two extra teams will be added to the playoffs in 2013, as well.

Categories:  1: Featured  Baseball  Games We Play

Tags:  al west  Houston Astros

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1 seamus   ~  Nov 17, 2011 1:33 pm

what do y'all think of this additional wild card team with a one game play in? It puts a slightly greater emphasis on winning your division which I think is good.

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Nov 17, 2011 1:47 pm

[1] perhaps a few more fan bases are psyched through september, and there'd be a big benefit to winning the division and also to best record, as the wild card play-in would have to use their best pitcher most of the time to advance. i wonder if the same rule will hold that wc team can't play div winner from same division in ALDS?

selig forces the brewers into the NLCS. it sux for a long time, and then he forces the astros out. can't stand that guy.

3 seamus   ~  Nov 17, 2011 1:51 pm

[2] good point about brewers/astros. i am glad that there is no longer a 4 or 6 team division, but then why was there ever one...

4 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 17, 2011 1:54 pm

Yeah, and I think the idea of the Rangers-Astros developing a rivalry could be fun. Sure, it is manufactured but might be cool.

5 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 2:00 pm

Now 1/3 of the league makes the playoffs and two 15-team leagues necessitates season-long interleague play. Whoopeee. Count me as not a fan.

6 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 2:04 pm

[3] There "needed" to be a 4-team and a 6-team division in order to have an even number of teams in each league (which is much better for scheduling) AND move to three divisions AND add a wildcard team. Of course, they could have avoided the silliness by remaining at 28 teams or going to 32 teams, or by not moving to three divisions (which all but necessitated the WC), etc.

Basically, once Bud and Co. decided to start tinkering, it opened up all of these subsequent problems.

7 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 2:08 pm

This is awesome:

The shift of the Astros into the AL West, a division that includes their cross-state rival Texas Rangers, would give each league 15 teams. All six divisions would then be inhabited by five teams. How the schedule will work is still a matter for consideration.


These guys aren't even bothering to think things through. They'll just wing it after the fact.

8 Jon DeRosa   ~  Nov 17, 2011 2:09 pm

[6] yeah, 28 or 32 would be better. this seems a step sideways to me, a little better for some reasons, a little worse for others.

i don't think of that play-in game as the postseason. it's a play-in game to get to the postseason.

9 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 2:21 pm

More idiocy, from MLBtraderumors:

Selig also confirmed that the creation of two 15-team leagues means there will be interleague play "from Opening Day on," but he doesn't believe it will water down the World Series according to Andy Martino of The New York Daily News and Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentintel...

It's not about diminishing the world series. That's a smokescreen. But season long IL games could undermine the excitement pennant races. I mean, here we have a tense pennant race between, say, the Yankees and Red Sox, and instead of an awesome series between the two to end the season, one of them plays the Padres. Awesome.

Of course with WC teams the pennant races are not as important as they used to be anyway.

10 seamus   ~  Nov 17, 2011 2:25 pm

[6] i had forgotten that history to be honest. thanks

11 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Nov 17, 2011 2:28 pm

There are too many facets to this for any one person to like all of it or hate all of it. But the part that stands out to me, as a positive, is restoring meaning to the division title.

When there's no meaningful difference between first place and second place, you're hockey.

This change preserves most of the juice of the "wild card race" and brings back a lot of the juice back to the actual pennant races. So in that respect, net positive.

As for year-long interleague play: Ugh.

12 RIYank   ~  Nov 17, 2011 3:37 pm

Oh, I don't think there will be season-long interleague games. Sox-Yanks games do feel like they're season-long, but even those are only four and a quarter hours or so.

{rim shot}

Seriously, I don't see why you'd actually need to have huge numbers of interleague games. Seems wrong. I haven't thought through the arithmetic though.

13 RIYank   ~  Nov 17, 2011 3:42 pm

Sorry -- here's what I meant.

There are 15 teams in the NL, so on any given day only 14 play, and the other has an off-day. So each team gets an off-day every 15 days. But I think that's actually less frequent than in the current system.

So what's the problem? Why would they need to have lots more interleague play?

14 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 4:34 pm

[13] But teams generally play series, right? Typically three games, with occasional 3 and 4 game series. If fourteen teams are locked into series, that means the 15th is not going to play for three days, not just one day. Now of course, when series begin and end could be staggered in order to then stagger off days, but there are limits to scheduling flexibility, most importantly you want every team playing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (and playing the same opponent). Wednesday off days are difficult unless they are linked to a M-T two game series or a R-F-Sa-Su four game series. So in the end, it will be difficult to make up a reasonable schedule without having to fall back on IL games to avoid teams sitting idle for multiple days, and that would hold true for the entire season.

15 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 17, 2011 4:34 pm

[13] So they can stay competitive with football. That's the only real reason any of this mess started in the first place, right? Football over took baseball in TV ratings and supposedly in nationwide fandom, so they borrowed some of their concepts (including steroids) to remain above the Mendoza line that is NHL Hockey [11] ... I don't particularly like the concept, but it seems to fit in the round holes.

16 RIYank   ~  Nov 17, 2011 4:37 pm

I see.
But why is it so important to have one pair of teams playing all three weekend days (Fri-Sat-Sun)?
But I can see the staggering the games would make scheduling harder. If, say, the Rays and Yankees were not on the same stagger-schedule, somehow they would have to get back in sync so they could play each other. It's possible, but it places very heavy constraints on the scheduling.

17 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 4:43 pm

[16] I'm not why it is so important these days, but in all of my years I can't ever remember a series beginning on Saturday or Sunday. I assume it's because the weekend (plus Friday) are (or were) traditionally bigger gate days----if anything, the schedulers try (I think) to put "big" matchups on the weekends. Plus, you wouldn't want to run the risk of having a weekend day "wasted" as a travel day.

18 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 4:45 pm

[16] Plus, even if you allow that teams will play different opponents on F-Sa-Su, you never want a team to be idle on the weekend. That means IL games every weekend for the whole season.

19 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 4:48 pm

[13][16] Grr. I'm being inefficient with all of these short posts. It's not so much that there would have to be more IL games in total (although I thought the rumor was that the league was considering it). Rather, the issue is that IL games would have to spread out across the entire season rather than clustered into one or two blocks, as it is now.

20 RIYank   ~  Nov 17, 2011 5:47 pm

Okay, yeah, I'm convinced of that.
Would it be so bad to have the interleague games spread out instead of bunched up?

21 William J.   ~  Nov 17, 2011 5:55 pm

[15] I think competition with football is driving any of these changes. Making more money is. Baseball hasn't taken a back seat to any sport in that regard, and there's no reason to think they will going forward.

Regarding these changes, I'd like to see three division winners in each league with the best record getting a bye, but absent that unlikelihood, I think an extra WC is a better alternative to the current setup. As the Yankees have proven the last two seasons, losing the battle to win the war has become an acceptable alternative to finishing in first, so now, that dis-incentive will be removed. In many ways, the extra WC round is a de facto extension of the regular season, which will give it more, not less credibility.

I also have no problem with the inter-league being every day. Who cares if the season ends with the Royals vs. the Cardinals. There are lots of irrelevant matchups with playoff implications at the end of the season anyway. Also, increased inter-league play might finally create a scenario in which the schedules played among divisions are comparable.

These changes COULD be very good for baseball, but the devil is in the details. One thing that does make me scratch my head is why they haven't been hashed out yet.

22 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 6:07 pm

[21] I also have no problem with the inter-league being every day.

I dislike IL games in general, so I prefer they be quarantined as much as possible. But that's me.

Also, increased inter-league play might finally create a scenario in which the schedules played among divisions are comparable.

So would eliminating IL games, no? Actually, I am not so concerned about the schedules being comparable among divisions (i.e. the AL east teams' schedule v. the AL central teams' schedules) as long as they play an imbalanced schedule. I am more concerned about equality of schedule *within* the divisions. Each team in a given division should play the same schedule, and that won't happen unless MLB decides to ditch the silly "natural rivalry" games.

23 monkeypants   ~  Nov 17, 2011 6:21 pm

[21] Of course there are matchups at the end of the season that are "irrelevant" yet with playoff implications. That misses my point. Currently, the schedule makers try, it seems, to cluster divisional games at the end of the season. This is good for two reasons: (1) theoretically, divisional games are inherently more interesting, and (2) more importantly, it increases the odds that the games played at the end of the season involve teams battling for the division.

Having IL games throughout the season will guarantee that at least some teams will not be playing against division rivals at the end of the year. I think that is, well, not good. Which brings me to...

One thing that does make me scratch my head is why they haven't been hashed out yet.

Really? It's clear that MLB has been winging it on these issues since about 1995. It seems like every other season some scheduling novelty is introduced or further tweaked, either to take advantage of some perceived benefit or to correct some (presumably) unforeseen problem.

24 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Nov 18, 2011 7:31 am

Hate all the changes, totally unnecessary. Bring back 12 team leagues and one pennant! Make the 162-game marathon more meaningful again!

25 William J.   ~  Nov 18, 2011 9:26 am

[22-24] If it was up to me, there would be 2 divisions in each league with no IL play, but that's not going to happen, so that's why I have don't mind the changes. They make a system I don't really like a little better.

[23] The schedule maker can still achieve that end by loading up on Royals vs. Nationals at the end of the year (or whatever combo seems less likely to be impactful). Sure, they could guess wrong from time to time, but the same is true now. Besides, does anyone remember who the Blue Jays played at the end of this season?

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