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.
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.