With the possibility of an MLB expansion on the horizon, every team in the league will be affected, including the Baltimore Orioles.
The Baltimore Orioles, along with the other teams, would be hypothetically placed in new divisions that would result in a revised schedule and playoff approach.
This big change would be the result of adding two new teams according to a fascinating idea from Tracy Ringolsby with Baseball America.
The possibilities for new MLB cities
According to Ringolsby, the expansion teams that are under serious consideration are Portland, Oregon and Montreal, Canada. And, there is a group that could afford to finance a team in Oregon. There has been a constant discussion about replacing the Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals in 2005. Oregon was a possible site for the Expos when the discussions about relocation where happening in the early 2000s. There was and still is grant money available to help with building a stadium in Oregon.
The possibility of adding two new teams to the MLB would result in restructuring the entire league. According to Ringolsby,
"“There seems to be a building consensus that baseball will soon be headed to a 32-team configuration. It will lead to major realignment and adjustments in schedule, which will allow MLB to address the growing concerns of the union about travel demands and off days.”"
What does this mean for the Orioles?
Considering that this is all hypothetical, the Orioles could land in a new division that includes eight team including Atlanta, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington as well as the teams in Florida. This would be a big change from the current AL East teams that the Orioles have played since its inception in 1969. The Orioles were an original member of this division which also included Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, the Yankees, and the Washington Senators. There have been several changes since then.
With 32 teams in the MLB, the idea is that the AL and NL would be no more. It makes sense to divide the teams into four divisions that could be geographically named East, Midwest, North, and West. Ringolsby suggests that the division teams play each other 12 times and that each team plays a total of 156 games. There are several benefits to this, especially that each team would have one day off per week. It would also add more time for travel and less long-distance travel.
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Interesting possibilities for Orioles fans
The Orioles could benefit from being placed in a division that does not include the Yankees and Red Sox. Fans of the Orioles would also be able to see the Battle of the Beltway played 12 times each season as each team would get six home games. If the Nats and O’s were in the same division, the rivalry could become the stuff of legends.
Playing seven teams in an East Division would offer more variety for fans to watch. Now, the Orioles play four teams in the AL East 19 times each. It can get repetitive watching the same teams that many times. Along with the seven teams in the division, the Orioles would face all of the other teams three times. Fans would be able to see every team play the Orioles every single year. Now, fans have to wait to see Interleague teams play every three years.
Of course, discussions would have to be had about the designated hitter. There are plenty of other ideas that could be viable, but Ringolsby’s ideas are certainly worth a conversation.