Wow, this article title probably got your attention, didn’t it? What would things be like if in fact the Miami Marlins did their own version of “Trading Spaces,” packed up and joined the NL Central Division?
Moving the Miami Marlins to the NL Central makes a lot of sense in the long run for the team and the National League.
When I think of cities such as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, I think of cities essentially in the northeastern United States. Let’s be honest, I really don’t see Ohio (forgive me now Ohioans) and Pennsylvania as part of the great American Midwest. I don’t have a bias against these cities per se; they just seem to be more suited to the National League East.
Of course, you could argue that the Cincinnati Reds have a history with the NL West and yes they do. From 1969 to 1993, the Reds usually battled the Los Angeles Dodgers for this division when the National and American Leagues were broken up into two separate divisions – West and East. The Reds were re-aligned with the new NL Central division along with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Using a bit of logic and some sports history, it would seem that a town like Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania would welcome a chance to develop their nostalgic bitter rivalry with that team from the eastern part of the state, namely the Philadelphia Phillies. All you have to do is watch the Steelers-Eagles or even better Penguins-Flyers rivalries and know that rekindling this baseball rivalry in the Keystone State makes perfect sense.
The Cincinnati Reds would make the natural transition to traveling more within the eastern time zone for their divisional games and would focus a lot of playing Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for regional dominance. Although they would be the westernmost of the NL East teams, the Reds could also develop rivalries with the Washington Nationals and not travel as far within their division unless going to New York to play the Mets.
On the other hand, moving the Marlins and the Braves creates a shift of the southeastern NL teams over to the Central division. This movement allows the Marlins to tap into the large “snowbird” crowd who come down to Florida from Illinois and Wisconsin each winter and end up staying. Atlanta too has seen its share of transplants from northern climes and shifting the Braves to the NL Central to play the Cardinals and Cubs more makes a lot of business sense.
If this shift happened today, the 39-29 Braves would still be in second place behind the Milwaukee
Brewers but within closer striking distance than they are with the Mets. The 29-36 Marlins would move up a place to third behind the Cardinals. Of course, looking at current standings is not the impetus for this potential realignment. Moving the Reds and Pirates to the NL East and the Marlins and Braves to the NL Central makes sports business sense. In addition, this shakeup could revitalize these teams (minus the Braves coming off a World Series win) and create a win-win situation for the ballclubs and their loyal fans.