In the midst of a superb and nationally unified response to COVID-19 that allowed baseball to resume its season with only a two-month delay, baseball finds itself at the center of the sports world for the first time in a long time with a plan announced in a joint press conference with Notrob Notfred and NPB head Atsushi Saito.

The plan calls for a 3-year phase in that will see NPB become one of four major leagues and make MLB perhaps the most widely international professional sports league.

The plan, in broad terms will result in the creation of a third major league in the US that will be dubbed the Pacific Coast League. There will also be no fewer than six new major league franchises added. Two each year until the full league merger in 2024. The new major league alignment will consist of four leagues – NPB, PLC, AL, and NL. The new alignment heavily emphasizes geography, adding two new teams and relocating the Rays to allow the PCL to function as a truly western league. Each league will consist of two six team divisions outlined as such:

American League:

North

  • Boston
  • New York Yankees
  • New York Mets
  • Philadelphia
  • Baltimore
  • Washington

South

  • Charlotte (expansion team)
  • Nashville (expansion team)
  • Miami
  • Houston
  • Dallas
  • Atlanta

National League

East

  • Montreal (expansion team)
  • Toronto
  • Pittsburgh
  • Cleveland
  • Detroit
  • Cincinnati

West

  • Minnesota
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Milwaukee
  • St. Louis
  • Kansas City

Pacific Coast League

North

  • Vancouver (expansion team)
  • Seattle
  • Portland (the Rays will relocate here next season)
  • San Francisco
  • Oakland
  • Sacramento/San Jose (NoCal expansion team location has not been firmly fixed as of yet)

South

  • Los Angeles
  • Anaheim
  • Las Vegas (expansion team)
  • San Diego
  • Colorado
  • Arizona

The Central and Pacific Leagues of the NPB will remain unchanged.

How the new leagues and divisions look

Aware of the potential travel issues involved, inter-league play will be eschewed for now – though both commissioners emphasized that it may be phased in later. For now, the plan is as follows:

Each team will play the other teams in its division 20 times and the teams in its opposite division 10 times, making for a 160 game season.

Upon completion of the regular season, the division winners from each league will play each other in a 7-game series to determine that league’s representative in the World Series Tournament.

The World Series Tournament will proceed as the LCS and current World Series do with expanded off days to allow for travel between North America and Japan. Seeding will be determined by regular season record.

A new CBA is nearly finalized that will expand to include NPB and immediately eliminate all previous impediments that existed to keep players moving back and forth between the two baseball cultures.

As the world tried to put the trials of 2020 behind it, baseball has given us all something to look forward to as we explore a new world with new players and perhaps an enhanced presence on the international stage for what was once the American Pastime.

5 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    If this is what it takes to save baseball given what many of us fear is coming in 2022 and beyond … then I say make it so!

  2. Andy

    Love this, but with this radical realignment, you’re still keeping godawful 160 games? And with all those games, not staging interleague? How about:

    102 games, 34×3 game series.
    2 series vs division (10)
    1 series vs other in “conference” (18)
    1 series vs one whole division of other conference (6)… so that you would play every team once every 4 years and have home series every 8. The NFL has this mastered.

    • Kevin Davis

      Andy, I agree with you on the 162 game schedule. I dont necessarily agree on adding all of the expansions teams – given the fact that fewer and fewer kids are playing baseball, I think it short sided that in twenty years their would be enough quality players to feed all the added teams. I would like to keep the 2020 division set up that would require a rotation outside your division, resulting in 141 or so games. NOthing more. Expand the playoffs slightly. Thise would be a much better model in my opinion