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What if? A mix-up of the 3 big U.S. Sports

In Sports on July 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm

by: Eric Buenning (with help from Andy Kane)

 

One of my favorite things about sports is that we can always play the “What If” game.  What if my team trades for this player?  Imagine where we’d be if this player didn’t get hurt.  And so on. 

The What If that I wanted to think up involved total division realignment in the three major U.S. sports.  There were a few reasons I wanted to do this:

1. Boredom

2. I wanted to see what new divisions were most intriguing/competitive

3. I wanted to make the intrastate/highway/border battles more relevant in baseball more prominent.

4. See reason #1

5. Reasons 1, 4

6. The “What If” game keeps sports interesting during dull periods.  Also:  1, 4, and 5.

Let’s start with the one that was changed the least, the NBA.  I noticed that these guys were located pretty well already, minus the Northwest division.  I couldn’t find a way to relocate the teams evenly, so I blew up that division completely, and redistributed them into the remaining 5 divisions.

(Quick note:  The divisions are uneven–with divisions of 5, 6, and 7 teams [with three Eastern Conference teams and 2 Western Conference teams].  I also made a revision to the current playoff seeding format.  There will be no reward for winning the division.  The eight best records will be the top eight seeds.  The benefit of having all the teams in your division being close is that your travel schedule will be much less rigorous and you will have more energy for the other games outside of division play.  Also, maybe more visiting team fans will want to see their team play more often than just at home.  With the new switches, maybe they’ll splurge and make a weekend out a road game.  Seems to make sense.  Let’s get started).

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

NORTHEAST DIVISION

Boston Celtics–New Jersey Nets–New York Knicks–Philadelphia 76ers–Tornto Raptors

One of two divisions that remained unchanged.  So, let’s move along. Nothing to see here.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Chicago Bulls–Cleveland Cavaliers–Detroit Pistons–Milwaukee Bucks–Minnesota Timberwolves–Indiana Pacers

At the very least, the addition of Minnesota will get Kevin Love a few more exposures to big market Chicago each season.  I’m not saying that he’ll leave Minnesota, but there may be a bigger buzz surrounding the star. People will come out to watch him that live around the area more than the likes of Utah and Portland citizens.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

Atlanta Hawks–Charlotte Bobcats–Miami Heat–Orlando Magic–Washington Wizards

Again, no changes.  Let’s hurry up and get to the new look Western Conference.

PACIFIC DIVISION

Golden State Warriors–Los Angeles Clippers–Los Angeles Lakers–Phoenix Suns–Sacramento Kings–Portland Trail Blazers–Utah Jazz

This division gets a little more loaded with the additions of Portland and Utah.  It will also make for a few more must-see games throughout the season as well.

SOUTHWEST DIVISION

Dallas Mavericks–Houston Rockets–Memphis Grizzlies–New Orleans Hornets–San Antonio Spurs–Oklahoma City Thunder–Denver Nuggets

Again, this division (easily the best one) again gets even more reloaded with the additions of OKC and Denver.  Wow, I mean, look at this division.  It’s beautiful.

Well, there’s the new NBA for you.  There isn’t much to say on the topic because not a whole lot changed, but these next two are surely more interesting.  I promise.

NFL

AFC WEST

Seattle Seahawks–Oakland Raiders–San Diego Chargers–San Francisco 49ers

Quite arguably the weakest division out of the 8, but there promise that these teams are on the upswing (besides Seattle).  You still have some old division foes mixed in as well as teams with a history (San Francisco throttling San Diego in The Super Bowl).  There is lots of potential for some good storylines here.

AFC SOUTHWEST

Denver Broncos–Arizona Cardinals–Kansas City Chiefs–Dallas Cowboys

Yet another sneaky competitive division.  Alright, they all are sneaky competitive.  Also, it will be fun to see Tony Romo get swallowed up by the Arrowhead fans once a year.

AFC SOUTHEAST

Houston Texans–New Orleans Saints–Tennessee Titans–Carolina Panthers

The most spread out division, geographically speaking.  This division is packed with quarterbacks of the present and future with Brees, Schaub, Locker (maybe Hasselbeck), and Cam Newton/Jimmy Clausen.  Also, look out for some good barbecues before, during, and after games in this division.

AFC EAST

Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Miami Dolphins–Jacksonville Jaguars–Atlanta Falcons

Teams all capable of making playoff runs here in this division.  You also have many “who’s better” debates here: Josh Freeman or Matt Ryan, Maurice Jones Drew or Ronnie Brown or Michael  Turner, Brandon Marshall or Roddy White.  You get the idea.  This is a very talented division.

NFC MIDWEST

Green Bay Packers–Minnesota Vikings–Chicago Bears–St. Louis Rams

Not a whole lot changed here, and with good reason.  You can’t break up the Packers-Bears rivalry, and the Vikings-Packers ties with Brett Favre can’t be separated, either.

NFC NORTH

Detroit Lions–Cleveland Browns–Cincinnati Bengals–Indianapolis Colts

At first glance, it looks like Indy will run away with this division.  But Detroit and Cleveland are getting better, and Cincinnati is bound to draft someone that will end up hurting Peyton Manning off the field.  It’ll look much more even after that*.

*this is obviously a joke…I think

NFC EAST

Buffalo Bills–New York Jets–New York Giants–New England Patriots

Another barely changed division.  The Giants-Patriots match-ups will be intriguing because of the Parcells ties, and, of course, The Super Bowl between the two.

(Note:  Rex Ryan has already stated that his team will go undefeated in this division).

NFC ATLANTIC

Pittsburgh Steelers–Philadelphia Eagles–Baltimore  Ravens–Washington Redskins

Probably the best division in this new league.  The defense in this division would be very good.  So would the defense attorneys (see:  Vick, Michael; Roethlisberger, Ben; Lewis, Ray).  In all seriousness, a serious Super Bowl contender would always come out of this division, in my opinion

Almost there….

MLB

AL CENTRAL

Cleveland Indians–Cincinnati Reds–St. Louis Cardinals–Kansas City Royals

Two compelling in-state rivalries in the same division?  Sounds good to me.  Also, we get more chances of this happening. Throw in battling for Ohio and Missouri? Look out.

AL EAST

Toronto Blue Jays–Pittsburgh Pirates–Philadelphia Phillies–New York Mets–New York Yankees–Boston Red Sox

The division with the most teams will also have the most talent.  Could you imagine the playoff ramifications of the inter-divisional series between these squads?  It’d be incredible to watch.  Also, sorry Pittsburgh Pirates.  I didn’t want to throw you in such a tough division.  You deserve winning seasons but….good luck.

AL SOUTHEAST

Baltimore Orioles–Washington Nationals–Atlanta Braves–Florida Marlins–Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay escapes the brutal AL East to emerge as a easy contender pick in this division.  This division will also have a lot of young, talented pitching.  This could be one of the most……wait for it….sneaky competitive divisions in baseball.

NL CENTRAL

Milwaukee Brewers–Minnesota  Twins–Detroit Tigers–Chicago White Sox–Chicago Cubs

Plenty of weather-delayed games for everyone!!  Maybe, if that happens, every game can be played at Miller Park, where the Brewers seem to be playing much better than they do on the road.  Let’s cross our fingers, Brewers fans.

NL SOUTHWEST

Houston Astros–Texas Rangers–Colorado Rockies–Arizona Diamondbacks–San Diego Padres

Don’t you want to see how far Josh Hamilton could hit the ball at Coors Field?  Wouldn’t that be fun?

NL WEST

Los Angeles Dodgers–Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim–Oakland Athletics–San Francisco Giants–Seattle Mariners

The Angels and Dodgers could easily settle the “which team Los Angeles cares about most when they’re not at the beach or making movies” debate every season.  This division also features a lot of quality pitching.  Fans can also visit Seattle when they are tired of getting sunburned at every game they go to.  That will be nice for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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