Current Major League Baseball franchises


This article gives general
information/overview about each of the 30 current Major League Baseball
franchises, including geographic locations, divisional alignment/league
affiliations, schedule length/format, game times, and team colors.
Franchises=Organizational alignment=
Former Commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig, often floated the idea of
international expansion and realignment of the major leagues. At the moment,
however, the two major leagues are each split into three divisions.
In all, there are 30 teams in the two leagues: 15 in the older National League
and 15 in the American League. Each has its teams split into three divisions
grouped generally by geography. They are: NL East, NL Central, NL West, AL
East, AL Central, and AL West. From 1998 to 2012, there were 16 teams in the
National League, and 14 teams in the American League. The teams are hosted by
17 American states, 1 Canadian province, and the District of Columbia. This
changed in the 2013 season when the Houston Astros were moved to the AL
West, placing 5 teams in each division and 15 teams in both leagues.
Each team’s regular season consists of 162 games, a duration established in
1961 in the American League and 1962 in the National League. From 1904 into the
early 1960s, except for 1919, a 154-game schedule was played in both leagues.
Expansion from eight to ten teams in each league in the early 1960s resulted
in a revised schedule of 162 games in their expansion years, for the American
League in 1961 and the National League in 1962. Although the schedule remains
at 162 games to this day, the layout of games played was changed when Divisional
play began in 1969, so that teams played more games against opponents within
their own division than against the other divisions or the other league.
Unplanned shortened seasons were played in 1918 due to the United States
entering World War I, and in 1972, 1981, 1994, and 1995 due to player strikes and
lockouts. A 140-game schedule was used in 1919, due to the influenza outbreak,
and the schedule before 1904 varied from year to year.
=Scheduling=For a detailed history of the length of
the regular season, see Major League Baseball schedule.
Layout The Major League regular season schedule
generally runs from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September or
the first Sunday in October. Each team is scheduled to play 162 games during
the season. Games are scheduled every day, although not all teams play every
day; by rule, each team has a scheduled day off at least once every two weeks.
Players and teams prepare for the season in spring training, in Florida or
Arizona, during February and March. Three rounds of playoffs follow the
regular season, culminating in the World Series in late October. The Major League
postseason consist of multiple game series that are split between the two
teams’ home fields; predetermined sites are not used as they are in some other
professional sports championships. An annual “All-Star Game” is conducted
halfway through the season, at a pre-determined site, with all teams
enjoying a three-day break. National League players make up one team, while
American League players form the other. Eight players from each league are
selected by fan vote, while the remainder are selected by the selected
managers of the two League teams. Games are played predominantly against
teams within each league through an unbalanced schedule that heavily favors
intra-divisional play. In 1997, Major League Baseball introduced interleague
play, in which American and National League teams play against one another.
This break from tradition was criticized by the sport’s purists but has since
proven very lucrative to the franchises. The interleague games were confined to
the months of May and June. Beginning in 2013, interleague play will occur
throughout the season. Typically many intra-division games are scheduled
toward the end of the season, anticipating the possibility of close
divisional races and heightened fan interest.
Format Generally, when two teams meet, they
play a “series” of three games against each other, although they will
occasionally play two- and four-game series as well. In the unbalanced
schedule currently in use, most teams will travel to visit each other team in
their division three times per season, each team in their league’s other
divisions once per season, and make three visits to teams from the opposite
league, totaling 81 games. The remaining 81 games are conducted at home, with
other teams visiting on a similar schedule. When games must be rescheduled
due to weather or other concerns, it is common for the game to be rescheduled as
part of a “double-header”, in which two games featuring the same two teams are
played back-to-back on the same day. Game times
Most games begin at either 1:05 pm or 7:05 pm local time, although some teams
prefer other times, and individual games may be scheduled at other times for a
variety of reasons. When not over-ridden due to broadcast contracts, the game
time is ultimately set by the home team. Most teams choose to play primarily at
night for attendance purposes, though they will often play in the afternoon on
Sundays and “Get-Away Days”. However, the Chicago Cubs, by agreement with the
City of Chicago, are required to play almost two-thirds of their home games
during the day.=Draft and minor leagues=
Each year in June, Major League Baseball conducts a draft for first-year players
who have never signed a Major or Minor League contract. These players are
generally American high school graduates or college students, although players
from a limited number of foreign countries may also be drafted. Notably,
players from Japan may not be drafted, it being regarded as the exclusive right
of the Japanese leagues to do so. After being drafted, players are
assigned to minor league teams who are affiliated with the major league team.
The minor leagues are organized into several levels, and players normally
work their way up over a period of three or more seasons before appearing in the
Major Leagues.=Team names and colors=
In American professional sports, a generally standardized and
marketing-oriented structure has evolved for the names and colors, and thus the
identities of individual clubs. The structure involves three elements: a
geographical designator, traditionally the name of the team’s city, although in
recent decades the team’s state or region has sometimes been used; a
nickname, usually connected with either a mascot, the team’s colors, or a
feature unique to the region or to the club; and team colors, a carryover from
heraldry. This approach contrasts with some non-American sports, such as
European soccer, in which team names need not necessarily follow a particular
pattern, or Asian professional baseball, which generally follows a “corporate
sponsor” name followed by a “nickname”. The pattern began with early organized
baseball clubs and has been extended from there to almost all U.S.
professional clubs. Originally, gentlemen’s athletic clubs
were key movers in the development of organized baseball, so early prominent
teams were simply named after the clubs that formed them: Athletic Club,
Centennial Club, Mutual Club, Olympic Club, Potomac Club, National Club,
Forest City Club, Kekionga Club, Atlantic Club, Eckford Club, Excelsior
Club, Western Club, Elm City Club, Resolute Club, Maryland Club, Mansfield
Club. By 1871, with the formation of the National Association, clubs no longer
just competed with local rivals, but with the best clubs from other cities
around the northeast. Thus, geographic designators were sometimes added,
establishing the now familiar pattern: Athletic of Philadelphia, Centennial of
Philadelphia, Mutual of New York, Olympic of Washington, Potomac of
Washington, National of Washington, Forest City of Cleveland, Forest City of
Rockford, Kekionga of Fort Wayne, Atlantic of Brooklyn, Eckford of
Brooklyn, Excelsior of Brooklyn, Western of Keokuk, Elm City of New Haven,
Resolute of Elizabeth City, Maryland of Baltimore, Mansfield of Middletown.
Informally, the club names were extended collectively to the players on the
teams: Athletics, Centennials, Mutuals, etc., and the same was done with
geographic designators: Philadelphias, New Yorks, Washingtons, etc.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings started a new trend in baseball club names. The
team was named after the color of its socks. Because of a combination of
factors—including cost and quality of fabric dyes and perception of
toxicity—very little color was used on early baseball uniforms. The one piece
of the uniform that was commonly colored was the stirrup stocking, which was worn
over a white sock, which prevented direct contact between the wearer’s skin
and the dyed stocking. The Red Stockings, which became a national
sensation with their successful barnstorming in 1869 and 1870,
popularized the naming of the team after its one most distinguishing uniform
feature, the color of its socks. By 1876, when the National League
entered play, baseball clubs were no longer primarily associated with
gentlemen’s athletic clubs, and most of the original teams were popularly named
after the one uniform feature that served to distinguish them on the
field—the color of their stockings. Thus: Boston Red Stockings, Chicago
White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, Hartford Dark Blues,
Louisville Grays, St. Louis Brown Stockings. The 1876 New York and
Philadelphia clubs still held over the traditional “Mutual” and “Athletic”
names, and were usually so referenced in the standings. The plural usage seen
sometimes, “Mutuals” or “Athletics”, was equivalent to the “Chicagos” or the
“Bostons”. Modern historians have often retrofitted these names in the modern
style, such as “New York Mutuals,” which is historically inaccurate. “Mutual” was
the actual name of the team, and the club had separate “nicknames” that
referred to the team colors in a given year, such as “Green Stockings”. The
Athletics name did persist, however, and the Philadelphia American League team
would retain this name even through two relocations.
Throughout this period, club nicknames were ad hoc, bestowed and used at will
by sportswriters and fans, for example, the Lord Baltimore Club could be called
the “Baltimores,” the “Canaries,” or the “Yellow Stockings.” Nicknames became
associated with particular cities, and fans tended to refer to the local team
by this name, even if it was not associated in a corporate fashion with
its predecessor. Thus, multiple, unassociated teams used names such as
Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, St.
Louis Brown Stockings, Louisville Grays, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers,
and the like. Early in the 20th century, the club
nickname began to acquire a more important status, eventually an official
status, being designated by the club ownership and ultimately used as part of
the club’s marketing efforts. Sometimes a club would change its nickname or
adopt an official name that superseded one or more unofficial names in the
past. An example would be the Boston Braves, who were tagged with various
nicknames prior to officially adopting “Braves” as their name and mascot.
Sometimes such a name change did not catch on with the press and public,
which is why there is no longer a “Philadelphia Blue Jays” nor a “Boston
Bees”. The original Washington Senators were officially the “Washington
Nationals” for many decades, but the alternate nickname “Senators” persisted,
“Nationals” faded, and the team finally, officially became the “Senators” in the
late 1950s. In contrast, the Brooklyn Dodgers began
by adopting the old “Atlantic” designation, then were dubbed the
“Bridegrooms” for a while, then the “Trolley Dodgers”, then the “Superbas”,
then the “Robins”, although the alternate nickname “Dodgers” persisted
from the moment the team acquired that tag. The Dodgers did not actually put
that name on their uniforms until the 1930s. Sometimes teams have changed
their nicknames for marketing or other reasons. For example, the Houston Colt
45s became the Houston Astros in 1965 after moving into the new Astrodome.
Team colors are sometimes tied in with a team’s name, and occasionally they are
changed for marketing reasons. One of the most striking examples of the latter
was in 1963, when flamboyant owner Charles O. Finley changed the Kansas
City Athletics’ uniforms from a traditional white/gray with blue and red
trim to bright yellow with green trim, a move that sparked controversy, but also
one that fit in with the new medium of color television. Before this, home
uniforms in MLB were uniformly white with colored trim, while road uniforms
were uniformly gray; afterwards many teams displayed a variety of color
schemes, notably the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres.
The Chicago Cubs have occasionally worn a bright blue top on the road since
1982, whereas the Chicago White Sox have changed colors many times during that
interval, at one or another time wearing navy blue, red, royal blue, and white
stockings. In recent years the team has sometimes worn black hosiery.
The St. Louis Cardinals once played in the same city as the St. Louis
Cardinals, but the teams were not named for each other. The St. Louis Cardinals
baseball club always played in St. Louis and were originally the St. Louis Brown
Stockings, while the former St. Louis Cardinals football club, one of the
oldest American football team still in existence, were first known as the
Racine Normals, then Racine Cardinals, then the Chicago Cardinals. During their
time in St. Louis, the football team was usually referred to by fans as “Big Red”
or the “Gridbirds” in order to avoid confusion between the teams.
See also List of professional baseball teams in
the United States by city – a complete list of the Major and Minor League
Baseball teams by their respective city’s metro population.
References

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