When it was first announced that the Houston Astros would be joining the American League for the 2013 season and that interleague play would be a year round phenomenon, I assumed that Major League Baseball would do the right thing and make a more even schedule for teams that are essentially competing against each other for Wild Card playoff spots.

Nope.

The ridiculously archaic idea of divisional play based on geography would continue to see teams play very dissimilar schedules, despite the glaringly obvious fact that a team in the AL East winning 86 games will have accomplished a lot more than a team in the AL Central winning the same amount.

And instead of attempting to lessen this ridiculousness under the new playoff format, MLB schedule makers appear to be increasing their idiocy even more. According to Danny Knobler, affectionately known as The Knobler, in a patented two-sentence-at-most-paragraph column for CBS Sports, Major League Baseball is considering an even more unbalanced schedule.

The new schedule will be at least as unbalanced as the current one, and possibly more so. In fact, the official said, teams may well go from playing 18 games a year against each division opponent to playing 19 a year. In that case, teams would play 47 percent of their games against teams within their own division.

In the greatest moment of no-shit-Sherlock that baseball has ever seen, The Knobler quotes New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi as saying:

I believe that if there’s a wild card, the schedule should be balanced.

It’s such a blatantly obvious statement to make, but it’s one that Major League Baseball doesn’t seem to realize: The records that teams finish with isn’t a valid means of comparison when the two clubs in question play entirely different schedules of differing difficulty.

You’re never going to create a scenario under which truly the best teams, the clubs with the highest level of true talent are guaranteed to play against one another in a playoff format to determine the best, but shouldn’t the goal be to get as close to that as possible. If these rumoured changes are undertaken, the league will be moving in the exact opposite direction.

For all of the ire reserved for slow movement on video replay, the fact that teams are punished for arbitrary reasons, including tradition and their geographic location, seems like a much larger target for the scorn of the baseball pundit. It’s one of those frustrating scenarios that seems so immediately obvious to a great many of people, but is ignored by the minority in charge for reasons that simply can’t be fathomed by those who feel the need for change.

Comments (22)

  1. Amusingly enough, none of the paragraphs Parkes wrote are contain more than two sentences, but the one quoted, written by Knobler, has three.

    That said, if nothing changes, once the Jays do make the playoffs, it’ll feel pretty good.

  2. Nailed it. Thank you.

  3. Is there a single photo of Bud Selig in existence where he looks smart?

  4. Don’t the owners have to vote on this stuff. Who couuld possibly…? Oh, never mind. The same morons who thought thw All-Star game winner should have home field advantage in the WS.

  5. I like to think the most important issue here is travel and fuel consumption. If a more balanced schedule means a higher ecological impact, then I don’t think we can afford change. That said, the current division alignment could be far more efficient, and travel could be reduced by longer road trips, as well as more 4-game series.

    • i will eat my hat if the words “ecological impact” have been uttered by any member of the MLB brass this season (excluding instances of “what in the hell’s “ecological impact?”). in fact, i imagine such a scene playing out much like the linked video, just replace ‘diversity’ with ‘ecological impact’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmj9HnbdhTc

      “i don’t think we can afford change.” – it’s not about being able to afford it, now it’s about trying to minimize the massive debt (fiscal and ecological) we leave to the next generation.

      virtually all arguments in professional sports are couched in dollars and cents, not trees and bunnies. perhaps as a professional biologist i am a raging pessimist, but i’m going to go ahead and say i’m probably not.

    • I totally agree with the idea of minimizing the ecological impact of the travel but I also agree with tdr: I doubt that’s MLB’s priority.

  6. Although plenty of owners seem to enjoy fireworks after every singly fucking solitary home run, so I can’t say I know what the shit they are thinking

  7. I share sympathy with the general idea of the article, but I think it makes a questionable assumption: the MLB decision makers are that concerned with fairness and competitive balance. They may have reasons to think that divisional games generate more interest and revenue as a league, and that gain is greater than a gain that would be brought about by a more fair system.

  8. I have no problem with the unbalanced schedule, if fact it’s not unbalanced enough! Teams should play all 162 games against only one team, this way the Red Sox and Yankees can play each other every day and none of the big market teams ever have to play someone like Minnesota or Kansas City.

  9. I’ve often wondered what Bud Selig would look like if he had a toilet plunger stuck to his chin. I have a better idea of that now. Thanks, Dustin.

  10. Ugh, not even surprised.

  11. It’s not even as if there’s a lot of tradition to the current ridiculousness – with so much expansion over the years, most of the tradition is gone anyway. And, when it comes to geography, the Blue Jays are closer in proximity to Detroit and Cleveland and Chicago than they are to New York City, Boston, Baltimore or Tampa Bay. MLB makes no sense sometimes.

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