Monday, May 24, 2010

Yearly scheduling stupidity...Interleague Play

I hate interleague play.

Hate it with a passion.

I can't explain to you how much I hate it.

But I have learned to reluctantly accept it.

So people ask me, "Hey Doc, why do you hate interleague play so much?"

For a couple reasons.

First off, it takes away some of the prestige and rarity of the All-Star and World Series.  Those match-ups that we would only see once in a life-time happen much more frequently now.  Boo!

And second (and most importantly), I hate it because the Cardinals play the Royals at least 3 times every single year.  In more general terms, the schedule for interleague play is unfair.  Because of interleague play, not only do teams within the same division have unequal schedules against interleague teams, but because those interleague games have been added to the schedule, they no longer have equal schedules against teams from within their own league.


Ok...the Cubs and the Brewers are in the same division.  In theory, they should play the same teams the same number of times throughout the year.  Not the case.

Here is the Brewers interleague schedule this year:

The Cubs:
White Sox
White Sox (again)


First off, the Cubs play 6 interleague series.  The Brewers only play 5 (as do the Cardinals and a number of other teams.)

As a result, the Brewers play 18 games against the Pirates this year.  The Cubs only play 15 games against the Pirates.  The Cubs play 5 games against the Rockies this year.  The Brewers play 9 games.

The 162 game schedule had a beautiful symmetry to it back when there were only 12 teams in the National League.  There were two divisions, each team played 18 games against each team in their own division and 12 games against the other division.   It was simple.  That equals 162 games. 

Then expansion happened and things got a little goofy....but it still wasn't that bad....13 games against teams in your own division and 12 against teams in the other division.

But then the D-Back and Devil Rays entered in and mass chaos ensued.

First, baseball decided that 4 divisions wasn't good enough.  So they made 6 divisions.  Then they realized that there was an un-even number of teams in each league (15)...which meant that one team didn't have an opponent at any one time in each league.  So...a team had to switch leagues (the Brewers).  16 and 14. If they had kept 2 divisions, the American League was set to continue to do the 13/12 format it had since the 70's.  But alas...3 do you create equal sized divisions now?  14 into the 4, add  That's 4 2/3 teams per division.  Um...that doesn't work.  :(

The National League was worse with 16 teams now.

You just can't figure out a schedule in a 162 game format that is equal or fair

But then Bud Selig had this brilliant idea.  Let's allow teams to play games against the other league as well.  On a rotating basis, each team with in a division would play each of the teams from one of the other divisions in the other league. problem...the divisions were of different sizes. can this work out...especially when the NL Central (6 teams) plays the AL East (4 teams)? 

It doesn't.

Now add this stupid...stupid...stupid aspect to interleague play...each team gets to play at least one rivalry series (and in many cases, 2) against a team from the other league.  For the Cubs, that is the White Sox.  For the Mets...the Yankees...and so on.


I give up trying to figure this out. 

As best that I can tell, the schedule makers take a dart board and assemble the schedule by blindly throwing darts at it.  And the truth is, that is about as good as you can do with things set up the way they are and the restrictions placed on them in a 162 game format.

So how do you solve this?  Well, I have some ideas...but that is for another post...and there are about 100 other proposals out there to solve this problem too...if MLB would just have the guts to listen to some of them, the world would be a better place.

But for you can plainly see from my activity here, interleague play is a drag.  I have little interest in it.  I have a hard time watching it.  I look at it like spring training games.  Once the 4th week of June passes, all will be right again...until then we do have a few intra-league games interspersed in...particularly this week when we play the Dodgers and Cardinals...but really, people talk about the dog days of summer (in August)...but to me, this is the part of the schedule that really drags.