Former MLB GM Proposes Realignment Into ‘Conferences,’ With Some Interesting Changes

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Rumors continue to fly about possible expansion impacting Major League Baseball.

The league is currently set up in configurations based on a combination of geography and tradition. But expansion could provide opportunities to rethink that alignment.

The 30 MLB teams could be joined by two franchises in fast growing cities like Las Vegas, Nashville, Charlotte or Austin. Former general manager Jim Bowden has some ideas for how that realignment could play out.

And some of his ideas are…controversial to say the least.

Perhaps the most interesting proposal is that MLB remove the traditional American and National Leagues. Instead of dividing teams based on their historical affiliation, Bowden wants to change leagues into “conferences.”

They’d be rearranged into the Eastern and Western Conferences, with four divisions in each conference.

Those four divisions would be based on geography, the East, North, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast for the Eastern Conference. While the Western would have Midwest, Southwest, Pacific Coast and West divisions.

Bowden assumed that the two expansion teams would be in Charlotte and Nashville, which would lead to several separations of historic rivals. For example, the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants would no longer be in the same division.

Dodgers and Giants in MLB
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: Thairo Estrada #39 of the San Francisco Giants reaches first base ahead of a tag from Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at Oracle Park on September 18, 2022 in San Francisco, California. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in 10 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Could MLB Separate Rival Teams?

Essentially, the East Division would be the Red Sox, Mets, Yankees and Phillies. North would be the Reds, Guardians, Tigers and Blue Jays. Mid-Atlantic would be the Orioles, Charlotte expansion team, Pirates and Nationals. Southeast would be Braves, Marlins, a Nashville expansion team and the Rays.

For the Western Conference, it would be Cubs, White Sox, Brewers and Twins in the Midwest Division, with the Astros, Royals, Cardinals and Rangers in the Southwest. The Rockies, A’s, Mariners and Giants in the Pacific Coast and Dodgers, Padres, Angels and Diamondbacks in the West.

Bowden’s suggestion would mean that historic rivals like the Cardinals and Cubs would be put into different divisions.

However, this would allow for interleague rivals like the Cubs and White Sox to be paired together. As well as the newly free spending Mets and nearby rival Yankees.


One of the more confusing choices is to pair the Colorado Rockies in the Pacific Coast division along with the Giants, A’s and Mariners. Except that Denver is well over 1,200 miles from San Francisco or the Pacific Ocean.

Toronto would also be aligned with Cincinnati, despite being significantly closer to Boston.

There’s certainly some merit to realignment, especially considering MLB is reducing the importance of divisions with the new schedule being introduced for the 2023 season.

But it’s hard to see how the league could justify separating out teams like the Giants and Dodgers. Geographic convenience is nice, but MLB values tradition more than any other sports organization.

This proposal would mean a rethinking of how rivalries are formed and developed. Baseball fans, who are notoriously set in their ways, would certainly have lots to say if the league adopted this change.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, author, and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, traveling, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter @ianmSC


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