Chicago Cubs: MLB proposal would provide intrigue for Cubs
Tuesday provided baseball fans and Chicago Cubs with more insight into MLB’s thought process as league officials attempt to get creative to save the 2020 season.
Ideas have been floated by MLB throughout the last month-plus, including a plan that would have all 30 teams playing in Arizona. But this latest thought experiment appears slightly more targeted and specific, and–if approved–it figures to add plenty of intrigue for the Chicago Cubs.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reported MLB is considering a plan to start the season in June, with teams playing in their home stadiums. The focal point of the project, however, involves realignment.
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Rather than being separated into American League and National Leagues, this plan would create three divisions comprised of 10 teams, basing everything on geographic location.
Thus, instead of playing in the “NL Central,” this structure would–for all intents and purposes–place the Cubs in the “MLB Central.”
This is a means of combining the respective divisions from both leagues. For example, all five teams from the AL Central would now be in Chicago’s division. However, the Atlanta Braves would replace the Pittsburgh Pirates in this instance.
Naturally, the plan is intended to limit travel while also allowing players and coaches to remain closer to their families. It remains to be seen how many games the Cubs would play within this new division, but one thing is for sure: there would be fireworks.
The most obvious element is the Cubs would be joining the same division as the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox. However, they would also be pitted against their 2016 World Series adversaries, the Cleveland Indians. Not to mention, a Minnesota Twins team fresh off a 101-win season and an AL Central title.
There are some upsides to see in this potential realignment. For example, the Cubs would likely have the opportunity to play more games against MLB bottom-dwellers in the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.
Both teams lost at least 103 games last season, and the Tigers finished with a league-worst 47-114 mark. Needless to say, the Cubs would probably welcome their chances against those clubs.
At the same time, it is easy to see why the realignment bodes ill for Chicago. The Twins and Indians are both among the best teams in baseball, and the White Sox should be drastically improved in 2020 if they get more contributions from the starting rotation.
Plus, swapping out the Pirates for the Braves (while exciting) also makes things more difficult. After all, the Braves won 97 games last season and have since signed Cole Hamels for stability in the rotation while also making upgrades in the bullpen.
The Cubs will also have to account for their usual NL Central foes, including a Cincinnati Reds team looking to make a playoff push in 2020.
If nothing else, playing in a realigned division would undoubtedly provide a new challenge. But then again, just figuring out how baseball will be played in 2020 has been quite the challenge itself.