Due to unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, a legitimate on-field rivalry is brewing between the New York Mets and Yankees.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale on Tuesday, Major League Baseball is considering a three-division plan that would see its teams exclusively play those strictly in their division.
The American and National League would be disbanded temporarily, with the 10-team divisions being split up by geography.
They would appear as follows:
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres
Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals
Kansas City Royals
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays
One would have to assume that this allows Major League Baseball to experiment with the universal designated hitter rule seeing as the leagues are blended in these makeshift leagues.
The plan did include the possibility of 30 teams playing at their home ballparks with no fans in the stands. However, varying degrees of the coronavirus outbreak would create apprehension from visiting teams who would have to travel to New York or Philadelphia.
Putting those logistics (and logic) aside — because there are obviously tremendous hurdles and unknown risks players would be taking during a pandemic — Major League Baseball has put forth a plan to create absolute anarchy, in a good way.
A shortened season with exclusive rival-heavy schedules will make most games must-see TV, a concept the league has struggled to attain compared to the likes of the NFL and NBA.
Just think of the constant non-traditional rivalry games that would hypothetically become commonplace in 2020:
- The Dodgers get to play the Astros 10-plus times this season, fresh off Houston’s sign-stealing scandal that delivered a World Series title over Los Angeles.
- The Giants and Athletics will constantly get to battle for Bay Area bragging rights, catapulting the rivalry to its most hostile since the 1989 World Series, which the A’s swept San Fran in.
- The Crosstown Cup between the Cubs and White Sox now will have divisional implications to throttle a rivalry that originated at the 1906 World Series, then was put on hiatus until interleague play was introduced in 1997.
- For history buffs, those same White Sox are in the same division as the Reds, providing the first meaningful games between these two sides since the notorious 1919 World Series dubbed the “Black Sox scandal” in which Chicago threw the Fall Classic.
MLB’s potential plan keeps most divisions intact except for a swap between the Central and East divisions — the Braves go to the Central while the Pirates join the East.
And while the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry gets to resume in a truncated season, the Bronx Bombers’ rivalry with the Mets is about to hit an entirely new fever pitch.
On the field, minus the 2000 World Series, there hasn’t been much to offer in terms of this Subway Series. Regular-season matchups are more for pageantry and fans who feel the need to puff out their chest to try and claim supremacy more than anything.
Much of that has to do with both New York teams rarely being good at the same time. While the Yankees have made the playoffs 17 times since 1999, the Mets have made it just five times.
But 2020 was bound to bring a new dimension to the rivalry even before things were halted due to COVID-19.
The Yankees were poised to regain their title as American League juggernaut after signing ace Gerrit Cole — added to a team that has an embarrassment of riches.
Meanwhile, the Mets have pieced together an intriguing side with loads of potential. Two-time defending Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom anchors a strong pitching staff that was dealt a blow with Noah Syndergaard’s Tommy John surgery. But it looks as though GM Brodie Van Wagenen accrued the bats needed to make the Mets a well-rounded side.
Pete Alonso is MLB’s next premier slugger, Jeff McNeil is as natural a hitter as they come, JD Davis batted over .300, and Michael Conforto belted a career-best 33 home runs in 2019.
It would have made the pair of two-game series originally scheduled for July as big as the rivalry has seen over the last two decades.
Now, there’s a possibility that the rivals enter the territory of divisional foes — one that will actually give fans a reason to harbor animosity toward each other rather than the tired “27 championships vs. Buying titles” argument that we’ve tirelessly heard.