by C.C. McCandless
The three tiered, promotion and relegation structure may be the single most defining trait that differentiates the CBA from any other pro league in baseball history. But…what if that didn’t exist? What would happen in an alternate universe CBA, with teams assigned to divisions geographically? Let’s find out.
Methods: I went with two leagues and six divisions, five teams in each division, mirroring MLB. However, I tried to divvy them up solely based on geography. There are certainly a handful of teams that could have gone different ways, but after looking at it for awhile, this is what I went with. Highly scientific. I’m also using the notoriously inaccurate in-game preseason predictions as my main research metric. Again…lots of science here. But let’s have fun. Teams are listed in predicted order of division finish in 2032. Division winners are in bold, while wildcard teams get an *.
Great Lakes Monsters
New York Roar
The CBA Northeast becomes the anti AL-East and the weakest division in the league, with four of five clubs coming from the Bronze League. The new Premiere League Boston squad should win the division crown in a walk.
This would be a tremendously fun division to watch or compete in. Plus we’d find out the difference over a season between a middling-level BL squad (Midwest) and a PL team that has been burned to the ground (Indy). As the Pandas demonstrated in 2031, a team can sink beneath their league’s talent level incredibly quickly.
Very tough division. The recent performances of Florida and Miami speak for themselves, and the quintet is rounded out with three solid Silver League clubs. A rebuilding DC franchise is the soft spot here for ’32.
Mexico City Chupacabras
Austin runs away with the division, but spots 2-5 would be really interesting. Has Houston done enough to surpass a 60-something win SL rival in Oklahoma? Is a bad SL squad (Wichita) worse than a decent BL one (Mexico City)? This would be a fun one to watch, aside from the Outlaws clinching sometime in July.
San Diego Skylarks
No weak links in this division, with nary a BL squad in sight. San Diego is a heavy favorite here, with the other four spots looking like a dogfight. Does Denver’s pitching staff look entirely different facing three SL teams? Are the Chilis already PL-ready? Hard to say, but it would be fun to see it play out.
Sacramento Golden Bears
Salt Lake Snappers
Bay Area Pandas
You know you’re dealing with a soft division when “Just how bad are the Pandas?” is the most fascinating question. The PL middle-of-the-road Golden Bears would win this in a breeze. Seattle’s projected winning record in the BL is enough for 2nd place. If you want to crunch the numbers for 3rd-5th here, you’re a better man than I am.
PLAYOFFS: The disparity in league talent is evident just looking at the wildcard game matchups: Cincy vs. Miami in the Jordan League, L.A. vs. Houston in the Kyle. Miami and Houston advance to the Division Series.
The Giants and Warriors go the distance in an epic series, with the Giants prevailing in the Sunshine State series capper. In the other JL matchup, Detroit takes care of Boston with ease. The Giants then battle the Motors in a seven game JLCS series for the ages. Craig Tipler tosses eight lockdown innings for Florida in game seven, who wins it on a walk-off, pinch hit single by Rich Stone off Chris Allen.
Over in the Kyle, Cinderella Houston wins the P-Cup in mid-season, then shocks L.A. in the wildcard game, only to get curb stomped by Austin in the following round. Old rivals Sacramento and San Diego battle it out in a tough series in Cali, with San Diego emerging victorious. However, they are no match for the Austin behemoth in the KLCS, falling in four straight.
Simply put, this is Austin’s year. Austin-Florida looms as a potential PL regular season title battle, a potential Tournament of Champions matchup, or both. In a best of seven series here, the Outlaws are just too deep and too good after their flurry of brilliant off-season moves. Tipler keeps the Outlaw bats in check once, but with two starts apiece for Dennis Chandler and David Ybarra, Austin wins the geographic CBA title at home in six games. Brett Sisti claims series MVP honors as he reaches base and scores in every game.