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MLB, NHL Realignment Talk Illustrates Differences In Fanbases

On Saturday, Buster Olney reported Major League Baseball is putting together a plan to move a team from the National League into the American League and eliminate divisions. Most baseball fans are excited about the idea at the moment, but, as Rob Neyer points out, just wait until Monday when newspaperpeople and radio hosts get ahold of it. O, the wailing you'll hear.

The only fanbase I've seen that cares more about division alignment scenarios than baseball fans do: hockey fans. The move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg led to widespread realignment speculation weeks before the deal was even announced. To many, realignment was more interesting than the relocation itself.

To a lifelong NFL fan, it was baffling -- until 2001 the NFC West contained just one team based west of New Orleans. Atlanta Falcons fans complained about it, sure, but the team had been stuck in the West for almost 40 years at that point anyway. The average NBA fan, meanwhile, would need about a minute and two free guesses to list his or her team's division rivals.

Whatever happens in baseball, the Atlanta Braves won't be moving to the AL. As a charter NL member, they've been in the league since 1876.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.