@Lez_Mets returns to talk about his other passion, Interleague play!
I have posted a lot about this recently, so you’re probably thinking this dude is obsessed? Well you would be right, I am! Right now the Major League Baseball schedule is broken from a competitive balance standpoint and in urgent need of repair!
How did it get this way you might ask?
Well that’s simple, expansion/realignment and Interleague play gradually changing the geography of baseball and how the Schedule is made up,as well as trying to schedule the annual money making Intra-city series. Along with concessions to the MLB Players Association on how it’s all formatted!
The ideal way to fix the schedule is to expand to 2 x 16 team Leagues and go from there. But taking into consideration that expansion is some ways off yet, we’re stuck with the current 15 team American and National Leagues for the time being, and I don’t believe it’s feasible or fair for MLB to keep stumbling through the schedule in the current manner!
Firstly even teams in the same division aren’t playing a common schedule, for example this season the Mets play the powerhouse Yankees 6 times while everyone else in the NL East will play them 3 or 4 times. And that’s only because this is an East vs East year, and in a league where Postseason spots can be decided by 1 or 2 games. The imbalance of the schedule can be deemed very unfair, and the same story can be told throughout MLB, this isn’t just a New York thing!
Believe it or not with the current League/Division alignment it’s a lot easier to fix this than you might imagine and here’s the best way to do it.
Firstly we keep the schedule unbalanced. Because I still think divisional rivalries are the lifeblood of the season, especially in August and September. Teams will play each team in their Division 18 times making up 72 games!
Then we have the rest of the teams within your own League. Teams would play the 10 teams outside their division 6 times apiece 3 each home and on the road, that makes up 60 games. Totalling 132 games within your own League!
That bring us to Interleague Play. The biggest thorn in the side of the schedule since its inception in 1997. I would propose MLB takes a leaf out of the NFL’s playbook here and rotate which division plays which on an annual basis.
So for example this year the NL East is playing the AL East, so each team would play their interleague opponents that season 6 times each, 3 home/3 Road. Just the same as non divisional league opponents, making up 30 games, and taking us up to the magic 162 games mark!
The negatives of this Schedule will be having a lot more Interleague games than ever before. Which means we will need a resolution on the DH issue, either we have it in both Leagues with 25 man rosters, or we ditch it forever and expand the rosters to 27!
We also still have the problem with teams only visiting cities once which was a huge issue this season with a record number of postponements. But this can’t really be corrected without dropping Interleague Play all together, something I’d be happy with as a traditionalist. But with two 15 team Leagues it’s just not possible.
So for the early colder months of the season teams should either be scheduled within division, or in the warmer Southern and Western States as much as is feasible, so we reduce the kind of problems we had this year, trying to schedule makeup games and double headers!
One other aspect this schedule loses is the annual natural Interleague Series rivalries such as the Subway Series or Freeway Series, unless of course we kept Interleague divisions static like it was for the first several years of Interleague Play!
But I think it’s worth sacrificing the annual rivalry series for a fair schedule for all, and besides sometimes less is more imagine the hype of a Subway Series every 3 years instead of the annual slog we have now.
There are several different ways to break down the fixtures, from less divisional games to the drastic measure of radical realignment along geographical lines.
Something Bud Selig himself suggested a few years ago, which would have seen the Mets, Yankees and Red Sox all in the same division, but that’s a whole other story!