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Could a MLB expansion put the Cubs and Sox in the same division?

Jose Abreu; Kris Bryant
Photographs: Courtesy Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy Jose Abreu; Kris Bryant

For the last two decades, since the advent of interleague play in Major League Baseball, the Cubs and White Sox have played each other between three and six games every regular season. That number could go up under one proposed realignment plan that would scrap the separation between the National and American Leagues, and turn Chicago’s two baseball clubs into division rivals.

The proposal, as laid out Monday by Baseball America columnist Tracy Ringolsby, would be a way to allow for MLB to expand from 30 to 32 teams, with Portland, Oregon and Montreal, Quebec pegged as the likely cities to gain new franchises. Doing away with the NL and AL, then, the plan would realign the league into four divisions of eight teams, arranged loosely by geography, and reduce the regular-season schedule from 162 to 156 games—easing travel demands and allowing for more days off during the season. Under this plan, the Cubs and Sox would find themselves in a Midwest division with the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers.

This would be a pretty radical overhaul of baseball as we’ve known it for decades—not just the realignment and what it would do to the playoffs (the plan Ringolsby lays out sees 12 of the 32 teams playing in the postseason), but the dissolution of the dual-league structure and the shortening of the season, which would surely make stats-minded fans crazy. But as NBC Sports’s Craig Calcaterra notes, “Ringolsby’s article is, in all likelihood, a trial balloon leaked by Major League Baseball”—far from a done deal, and years off at best. Still, it might not be too early to start imagining the Cubs-Sox rivalry getting even more heated than it is now.

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