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What MLB’s radical realignment proposal would mean for the Yankees

The elimination of the American and National Leagues was one of the ideas pitched in this proposal.

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An empty Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There have been a few unique proposals over the last couple of weeks regarding a plan for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. There was a plan to host every game in the state of Arizona at Chase Field and multiple spring training sites. The most recent idea that has been floated around consists a plan that would eliminate the American and National Leagues for 2020 and realign all six divisions for an abbreviated season.

The plan would have all 30 major league teams return to their spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona. They would play regular season games in those two states and without fans in an effort to minimize travel and reduce risks of infection in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because the plan would eliminate the American and National Leagues, they would be reassigned into the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues. It would also reorganize the divisions, where the Yankees would be placed into the North division in the Grapefruit League. The North division would consist of the Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Ryan Pavich took a look at that hypothetical division earlier today.

The proposal obviously has its perks and its flaws. Teams would be familiar with their “home” parks, as the Yankees are used to playing in George M. Steinbrenner Field. The dimensions are exactly the same as Yankee Stadium as well. But not playing with fans is something that would take a getting used to, as well as the total switch-up of division opponents. This would get rid of the classic Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

The North division seems like it would be a lot easier for New York to handle than the AL East. The Tigers were by far the worst team in baseball last season, and the Pirates were really not much better. If you were to combine their records from 2019, they’d be 116-207, which comes out to a .359 win percentage. The Yanks shouldn’t have much of a problem there.

The Blue Jays are a team the Yankees are obviously very familiar with. Toronto is a young, developing team who won only 67 games a season ago. While they might not look too intimidating right now, they’re a team that is building a blossoming core that could be dangerous for years to come.

Finally, it seems the toughest opponent in the Northern division for the Yankees would be the Phillies. While they have been an underachieving team these last few years, they made some solid moves in free agency such as signing former New York natives in Didi Gregorius and Zack Wheeler. Still, the Yankees would be the overwhelming favorite to win the division.

The proposal states that teams would play 12 games against their new divisional opponents and six games against the other teams within the state. There would be at least one doubleheader a night when all teams are scheduled to play because of the odd number of teams in each state. The universal DH would also be implemented, which would most likely cause a stir among National League fans for a bit. But it would only last for a few days until they realize that it’s a lot better to have the DH than a near automatic out when a pitcher walks to the plate, but that’s a whole other debate.

The playoff format would be a little different too. The winner of the Cactus League would play the winner of the Grapefruit League for the World Series, and the Fall Classic would be played in domed stadiums in late November. If that’s the case, calling it the Fall Classic might not fit. I hope the NHL wouldn’t mind if baseball steals the Winter Classic name from them for a week or so.

Nothing is set in stone and nothing has been agreed upon as proposals are still being thrown around. This wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for the Yankees. I think it would benefit them more than hurt them because of the weaker division opponents they’d be facing. Whatever ends up happening, baseball fans just want to see baseball played as soon as safely possible.