Give me Liberty or give me death

Long Island owner Frank Boulton must have borrowed Patrick Henry’s famous words when the Atlantic League decided to realign its divisions this offseason.

I say that because a quick perusal of the signings made by the league’s eight teams leaves us with one conclusion: The Freedom Division looks stacked when compared with its Liberty counterpart.

In my view, as the teams are assembled right now, the top teams in the league are Somerset, York, Long Island and Lancaster — in no particular order. And the Patriots, Revs and Barnstormers are all in the Freedom Division with defending league champion Newark mixed in, no less. (Check out every team’s signings on this Atlantic League Baseball News page)

It’s a very distinct possibility that a solid team could be left out of the 2008 playoffs entirely, even with the first- and second-half division champion system in place.

As we all recall, the new alignment was created to protect rivalries (York/Lancaster, Long Island/Bridgeport, for example), but it could also end up causing some very interesting scenarios at the end of the year. Of course, I want to reiterate that it is still early and things could change easily — even tomorrow, as we learned with Steve Schmoll — but right now I don’t think there’s any question the league’s strength lies within the Freedom Division. Maybe Todd Marlin (Bridgeport), Butch Hobson (Southern Maryland) and David Keller (Camden) will make me revisit that statement in the near future.

On the flip side of the argument, the division realignment could still work wonders. York’s games with Lancaster are going to be that much more meaningful, and the Revs will have to figure out Somerset — the class of the league year-in-and-year-out — pretty quickly. They also will need to improve upon last year’s atrocious record against the Bears (3-15). I’m still wondering how that one happened.

Anyway, although it appears three of the league’s top teams are stuck in the same division, we’ll have to see if that ends up being a bad thing. Either way, the Freedom Division race should be pretty exciting this summer.

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4 Responses

  1. I’ve been wondering why they didn’t just divide the teams geographically?

    The league could have a NY metro division or “northern” division with Long Island, Bridgeport, Newark, and Somerset and a “southern” division with York, Lancaster, Camden, and Southern Maryland.

    It actually divides up pretty nicely this way. They could play an unbalanced schedule with a few more divisional games than non-divisional games, and it would cut down on the travel a little bit.

    This would also be a more organic way to develop some genuine rivalries instead of manufacturing them with shiny cups and silly mayor versus mayor bets.

  2. The problem with an unbalanced schedule is you will eventually have a year in which one division is insanely better than the other. I think this type of schedule would work best if the league added another four teams or so.

    I think the jury is still out on the new realignment. If Somerset wins the first half and York and Lancaster are battling down to the final days of the season for a playoff berth, the race could get really interesting.

  3. The divisions formed this way does alleviate of the problem of all of the “South” teams being owned by the same company. I will take the unbalanced look over the “monopoly” division

  4. Very true and something I neglected to mention in the initial post. Moving around the ODP franchises was the main reason for the realignment in the first place.

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