If you haven’t noticed, Major League Baseball hasn’t added any teams since 1998. That’s the longest stretch without new teams since baseball added four teams, including the Twins, in 1961 and 1962. The prevailing wisdom for most of that time is that baseball had run out of cities that could sustain new franchises.
But, as a recent story in Baseball America pointed out, there’s an ownership group in Portland, Ore., that’s being taken seriously and Commissioner Rob Manfred has talked about another West Coast team being part of any plan to expand. In addition, there’s a push to bring a team back to Montreal, which lost the Expos to Washington in 2005.
So what could that mean for the Twins?
In the Baseball America story, Hall of Fame baseball writer Tracy Ringolsby cited a plan that would address concerns about the demand of travel and the lack of days off in the current 162-game schedule.
Here’s where it could get, ummmm, interesting for the Twins.
Ringolsby writes: “One proposal would be to geographically restructure into four divisions, which would create a major reduction in travel, particularly for teams on the East Coast and West Coast, and add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as interleague attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles.”
What about the Twins, though?
The plan cited by Ringolsby includes a Midwest Division that would include the Cubs, White Sox, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.
Is there a team missing from the “Midwest?”
That would be the … Twins.
You could find them in the North Division with the Yankees, Mets, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit.
In other words, the current Royals rivalry, a reignited Brewers rivalry and the potential for twice-a-year road trips to Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium wouldn’t happen because the Twins would be one of two teams pushed out of their natural geographic reasons to make the plan work.
It wouldn’t be an unprecedented twist of pretzel logic: Think of Atlanta being in the National league West before the current baseball set-up, or the Minnesota Wild’s place in the previous NHL alignment, in which they were going to the West Coast and western Canada more often than playing Chicago and St. Louis.
The plan cited by Ringolsby includes a 156-game schedule, an expanded round of playoffs and days off every week.
On the Twins, he writes that the plan “would drastically reduce travel, while keeping teams in their time zones, except for the Rockies and Twins. They, however, would be playing teams in a time zone an hour earlier, which is less demanding than an hour later, and also provides increased TV ratings because of prime time viewing. The other intra-division teams would have to travel to Colorado or Minnesota just six games per year.”
What do you think, Twins fans? Earlier starting times for most road games and more games against the Yankees and Red Sox in exchange for losing a busload of opportunities for Twins fans to take car trips to some of baseball’s best road venues … and for fans of those teams to make similar trips to Target Field?
Does this sound to anyone else like a trade that wouldn’t be good for the Twins?