ST. LOUIS – Could one of baseball’s most storied rivalries be in jeopardy?
One new proposal, brought forth Tuesday by The Athletic, calls to split the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs into different divisions if Major League Baseball expands to 32 teams.
There’s no indication MLB is seriously considering such a proposal right now, but a vision from MLB analyst Jim Bowden would call for eight separate divisions consisting of four teams each. It would group the Cardinals and Cubs as such:
- Southwest Division: St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers
- Midwest Division: Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins
In fact, under the proposed realignment, the Cardinals would not be classified in the same region as any current division foes. The Astros shifted from the National League Central to the American League West in 2013, but a lot has changed in baseball since they played St. Louis more regularly. Bowden’s proposal also eliminates the idea of National League and American League teams.
Catching the attention of millions via Twitter, the suggestions were met with criticism by many baseball fans, and not exclusively for the Cardinals. Many fans are equally upset that the proposal calls to split California rivals Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants into two different divisions.
“Regional maybe but the Giants and Dodgers not in the same division seems wrong and the same goes for the Cubs and Cardinals. Exchange the Giants with the Diamondbacks or Padres. Exchange the Cardinals and Twins,” says Herbert in reply.
“Can’t split up Cubs – Cards, Giants – Dodgers, etc. There could be a happy medium between AL / NL and this plan, though,” says one Cubs-fan Twitter account in reply.
“This is dumb. Cubs and Cardinals need to be division rivals. Dodger and Giants need to be division rivals,” says Brian in reply.
It appears current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred supports the vision to expand to 32, per Sports Business Journal and other sources. The league has yet to offer more specifics if and when that will happen, but it’s worth noting the NFL and NHL both consist of 32 teams after expansion in the 21st century.
For the Cardinals, if MLB expands, their division ties with the Cubs or Brewers likely depends on which city gets a new team and how the geography affects over alignment of teams by region. Some cities that MLB might possibly consider for expansion teams include Charlotte, Nashville, Portland and Montreal. The more central the expansion teams are, the trickier the situation might become to keep the Cardinals reunited with their common opponents.
As for Cardinals-Cubs, the rivalry itself will even be scaled down a little more compared to years past. The two will compete in a London series this season, but only play 13 head-to-head games against each other this year compared to 19 last season. This comes after MLB introduced a schedule change to have every team play at least one series against each other this year.
The Cubs lead the Cardinals, 1259-1209, in the all-time series. St. Louis has had an edge in recent seasons, winning the season series and at least 10 head-to-head games with the Cubs in each of the last four full MLB seasons.