Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What to do about MLB Scheduling: Part 2...some simple steps

On Friday I started complaining about the pathetic state of the MLB schedule. I know that they have hired people to create the MLB schedule for a number of years now. It isn't an easy job with the constraints that baseball has put on these people creating this schedule. As I outlined last week, Bud Selig and the owners have absolutely destroyed the nice symmetry that the schedule once had by things like unequal division sizes, expansion, and interleague play...all along with keeping to the rigidity of 162 games.

Well, here are some simple solutions to try to fix the symmetry of the schedule.

1. Fix the divisions.
30 teams, 6 divisions…PUT 5 TEAMS IN EACH DAMN DIVISION!!! The easiest thing to do would be to take a team from the NL Central (6 teams) and move them to the AL West (4 teams)…but the only team that would fit in this scenario would be Houston, and I don’t think Major League Baseball wants both Texas teams in the American League West. So, what I would do is move the Astros to the NL West and put the Rockies in the AL West.

Ok, we now have equal sized divisions…yea!

Oh no! How do we deal with the fact that we have an odd number of teams in each league? That puts interleague play into issue. NEXT!

2. Spread out Interleague play
Now, let me just say that I flat out HATE interleague play. But, it has become a fact of life now…so let’s use it to our advantage.

Someone needs to explain to me why interleague play only can happen during a few weeks in May and June. If we take interleague play and spread it throughout the whole season, we solve the problem of having an odd number of teams in each league. At any one point, there will be at least 1 interleague series going on.

Ok…and while we are on interleague play…

No more of the Cardinals beating up on the Royals every year. If the Cardinals get to play the Royals…then the Cubs should get to beat up on them as well. Get rid of these games, unless every team in the division gets to play the same team.

Ok, so I’m now claiming that these 3 steps would fix the fairness of the MLB schedule

So we now get into the nuts and bolts of how this would work.

With a 162 game schedule…we basically have 54 three game series throughout the course of the season. Now some of the series are 4 games, some are 2 games…but it all evens out to 54 series. Let’s look at how we could spread this out.

Let’s start with intra-league, out of division play. The best and simplest way to do this is to have a home and an away series against each team in the other two divisions of your league. That is 20 series (5 teams, 2 divisions, 2 series).
Ok, so we have 20 series (60 games) from that, leaving us with 34 series (and 102 games).

Then, you have interleague play…you can go a few ways on this…
1. 1 series vs. each team in one division from the other league
2. 1 series vs. each team in 2 divisions from the other league
3. 2 series vs. each team in one division from the other league
My proposal is to expand interleague play to 10 series, and do option #2…which will ensure a series against a rivalry team 2 out of every 3 years.

So we now have used up 30 series (90 games) leaving us with 24 series and 72 games.

Intra-division play…becomes fairly simple. A team will play the other team in its own division (4 teams), in six series, 3 home, 3 away. Six times 4 is 24…add that to the 30 out of division games…that’s 54.

54 series!

162 games!


Problem solved!!!!

Can this work? I don’t know, but this becomes a fair schedule. There are the small oddities here that would have to be worked out…basically the fact the in this scenario, only intra-division series could be 2 or 4 games. That might not work. To make the schedule a little more flexible, we might have to look at having some unevenness in the home/away teams…the Cubs might play the Dodgers only 2 games at home and 4 games on the road while playing the Giants 4 games at home and 2 games on the road, or something like that. That would hurt the “fairness” that I’m trying to fix, but only a little bit.

Would this ever be done? It would be a seriously hard sell. Having a team switch leagues would be very difficult, and I believe as part of the agreement when Denver was granted a franchise was that the team would not be forced to change leagues (for some period of time). But I think a realignment could happen if enough people screamed about it.

The other obstacle…removal of the mandatory rivalry games. Teams like the Cubs and White Sox would scream bloody murder if they didn’t get a chance to compete for the BP Cup every year. The added revenue from these rivalry games, for some of the smaller market clubs, is important too. Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City and the like are much more likely to sell out when they play their geological rival from the other league. That’s some big money. But it doesn’t help with the integrity of the schedule.

So, there you have it.

Part three will be later this week…throwing some other variables into the system.