In Rob Biertempfel's recent article on the subject, members of the Pirates express ambivalence about the possibility of MLB realignment, but I thought Neil Walker's comment was interesting:â†µ
Team president Frank Coonelly, eyeing the big crowds at PNC Park when the Phillies and Mets visit, is lobbying hard for a move back to the East. But Walker doesn't much care where, or even if, the Pirates are relocated.â†µ
"It doesn't make a difference to me, really," Walker said. "In my opinion, if they just moved Houston to the AL West, it would make everything work. But as far as us moving to the NL East ... I don't know."â†µ
Walker has the right idea. Moving Houston to the AL ensures that all the divisions in baseball will be the same size. I can understand the Pirates' desire to move to the NL East, particularly given the crowds for the recent Phillies series, but there's no way the Pirates should willingly put themselves in yet another division that will have six teams in it, especially given that the competition in the NL East will be better than it is in the NL Central.â†µ
The Walker Plan (it isn't really Walker's plan, but I'm going to call it that) prevents the Bucs from having to fly to play the Astros, a team with which they have no real rivalry, and puts them in a five-team division for once. It does mean that each league will have 15 teams, which will mean there will be interleague play every weekend. The Kansas City Star imagines a weird scenario where the Royals are still in contention at the end of the season (that's the part that's weird) and DH Billy Butler can't play in the final week of the season because the Royals happen to be playing in an NL stadium.â†µ
I can understand how that might bother people, but it doesn't really bother me. I love interleague play. And even though I'm a fan of a National League team, I don't like watching pitchers try to hit. We pay a premium to watch major-league games instead of sandlot games because we like to watch people do things they're great at. Why, then, would we want NL rules to be set up so that we have to watch pitchers routinely fail at hitting? Make both leagues use the DH, and then suddenly the Billy Butler scenario is no problem.