SAN FRANCISCO -- Dusty Baker was working his way up and down the Atlanta Braves system in 1969, when the divisional era of baseball began. Now, as manager of the Reds, he is preparing for a potential shift back to the way things used to be.
In a report published Saturday, four sources told ESPN.com that Major League Baseball and the Players' Association are discussing a realignment that would create two leagues of 15 clubs instead of the current 16/14 structure. Citing a high-ranking executive, ESPN's report says they are considering completely eliminating divisions, and all 15 teams in each league would compete for five playoff spots. In order for the change to occur, 75 percent of Major League owners would need to approve it, although the plan has yet to be presented to them, according to the report.
Baker heard about the proposal Sunday and responded with mixed feelings.
"I like the realignment part to try to even the divisions," he said. "Some teams have six like us in our division, and some teams have four. Your chances of winning your division playing four are probably better than playing six. Whatever they do, I don't think we need drastic changes -- just tweaking, that's all."
He was particularly concerned about the idea of potentially increasing the number of games in Interleague Play, especially the thought of two squads playing out of their divisions during series that would decided their postseason fate. According to ESPN.com's report, that is one of the major sticking points of the proposal.
"I'm trying to figure out what we're going to do if we increase games in Interleague Play," Baker said. "Are you going to have to carry a DH, or will that hurt their DH productivity over the course of the year, playing more National League games?"
But, as Baker said, critics were unsure of how switching over to divisional play would go back in 1969, and aside from a few of its flaws, it has worked out just fine for the past 42 years.
"It came out being one of the best things. At that time, nobody knew," Baker said. "You don't know until you get into it if it's right or not. I'm sure they put a lot of brain power into it."