The Tenth Inning – Week 11 Unbalanced Schedule

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The Tenth Inning – Week 11 ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>


By Mike Ivcic

Excuse me if I’m about to beat a dead horse, but it’s about time the MLB schedule gets balanced, starting with interleague. How fair is it that both the Mets AND Braves have to play the Yankees six times this season, while the Phillies get the Twins and every other AL East team once? Likewise, the Orioles and Pirates are slated to meet this season, even though this is supposed to be East-East, Central-Central, and West-West matchups. Plus, some teams are playing 18 interleague games, while others are playing 15 games. I cannot understand this scheduling process, and I’m guessing most other fans can’t either. So, the question needs to be asked – why the unbalanced schedule?


Next season, the Astros move to the American League, which should, in theory, create the ability to have a matching schedule for every team involved. But, for some reason, the league has already said the schedule will not be balanced. And so, once again – why?

Attention Mr. Bud Selig – here’s how the schedule should work next season:

Every team plays the other teams in their own division 20 times each – 10 at home and 10 on the road, or two 3-game series and a 4-game series in each ballpark. If baseball wants winning the division to be the most important goal for every team during the regular season, then why not play nearly half the games (80 total) against those same teams. The team that wins the division will ultimately have to be the best team over those 80 games, so that seems like a good way to determine an automatic postseason qualifier.

Next, each team will play the other teams in their respective leagues six times each – 3 at home and 3 on the road. No more of this 2-game series stuff. Keep the traditional 3-game series in tact and pick up another 60 games, bringing the current total to 140 and ensuring that each and every team visits each and every other team outside of their division but inside of their league the exact same number of times. If baseball’s going to use a “two-Wild Card” system, let’s make sure that those teams, once again, are evaluated fairly with respect to the other teams competing for those same spots.

That leaves 22 games to fill out the 162-game schedule. With regards to interleague, eliminate any non-geographic interleague games. No one cares about Pirates-Mariners or Nationals-Indians. Everyone may want to see the Yankees-Cubs or Red Sox-Dodgers, but sorry – it’s just not happening. There are too many uninteresting series that are created by allowing for the NL West to play the AL Central that it simply no longer makes sense to allow those games to be scheduled. Instead, determine a primary rival for every AL and NL team, and play that matchup four times – twice in each ballpark. Thus, the Mets would play the Yankees twice at Citi Field and twice at Yankee Stadium every season. Likewise with White Sox-Cubs, Giants-A’s, Dodgers-Angels, Indians-Reds, etc. Then every team would play the other four interleague teams in a three-game series, two of them at home and two of them on the road. That would be a total of 16 interleague games, which is plenty considering there will now be at least two every single week – one during the weekdays and one on the weekends.

With 156 games scheduled, the remaining six games would be determined by using a similar formula to the one used by the NFL – division finish from the prior year. An extra series would be played between each of those teams. For example, the Phillies, Brewers, and Diamondbacks would all play an extra three games against each other this year under my proposed format as a result of winning their respective divisions last season. Likewise the Braves, Cardinals, and Giants would meet three additional times since each team finished second, and so on. If baseball insists upon having some random extra series between some teams, let’s make it based upon the relative strength of each team as opposed to whatever method the league is currently using, since I’m pretty sure the triumvirate of Newton, Einstein, and Galileo couldn’t even figure it out.

But at least the three of them never had to play six games against a team from another league with a $200 million-plus payroll.

Playoff “Dead” List
June 11 – Minnesota Twins
The first American League team to take the dive, the Twins are not built to win this season and don’t have the depth or top-tier talent to catch the Indians, White Sox, or Tigers. Their goal should just be to beat out the Royals and finish fourth, then see what the open market might bring back for some of their more high-priced players like Mauer and Morneau in the offseason, Blasphemy? Maybe. But it might also be the only way to rebuild this franchise into the competitive team they were in the mid-2000’s.
June 4 – Chicago Cubs
May 28 – San Diego Padres

Three series to watch this week…
1) NYY @ ATL (6/11-6/13) – The suddenly red-hot Yankees visit the Braves, who may be the most inconsistent team in all of baseball this season. It’s a big series for both teams in the tight AL and NL East races.
2) LAA @ LAD (6/11-6/13) – When does a meeting between the two LA baseball teams take a backseat? When the Kings win a Stanley Cup, which they may do Monday or Wednesday night. Still, this is a big series for both teams, even if they have to share the stage with a victory parade.
3) CLE @ CIN (6/12-6/14) – The Battle of Ohio takes on even more importance with both teams involved in tight division races. The Pirates get the Orioles, while the White Sox and Cardinals matchup, so one of these teams might have a chance to open up a division lead.

If the season ended today, the playoff teams would be…
National League
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Washington Nationals
3. *Cincinnati Reds/Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Atlanta Braves
5. San Francisco Giants

American League
1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Texas Rangers
3. Chicago White Sox
4. New York Yankees
5. Baltimore Orioles

Check out my weekly column, “The Tenth Inning,” every Monday and the weekly “Power Rankings” every Friday, only at

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