The NHL and NFL both have 32 franchises, and if Major League Baseball were to ever follow suit, it could require a significant realignment, and one insider’s proposal could be very intriguing to fans of the Chicago Cubs and White Sox.
The proposal, floated by The Athletic’s Jim Bowden, would create a Western and an Eastern Conference in MLB, with four divisions in each conference.
In the proposal, the Cubs and White Sox would share the same division, but both would be separated from long-time historic rivals.
“Leaning into geographic rivalries would likely increase attendance and excitement in the regions where each team is located,” he said.
While the Cubs and White Sox would both get one current rival in their division in the form of the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins, they’d each lose one too, as the St. Louis Cardinals would be out of the Cubs’ division and the Cleveland Guardians would be out of the White Sox division.
Bowden’s thought experiment puts expansion teams in Nashville and Charlotte, two cities that have seen aggressive pushes for MLB franchises. Both of those clubs would be in the newly-formed “Eastern Conference,” according to Bowden’s alignment.
MLB has flirted with the idea of expansion for years, with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays having come into the league for the 1998 season.
Dave Stewart and Don Mattingly have both been part of pitches to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville, which is currently home to the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.
Portland, Oregon has also been floated as a possible new home for an MLB team, as have Charlotte and Montreal, the latter of which lost the Expos to Washington, D.C. in 2005.