The 2009 Schedule…WTF???
Seriously, how is the Major League Baseball schedule made? Is it some B.S. computer system like in college football bowl games? Do they have people close their eyes and throw darts at a board full of teams and dates? Who is running the show here?
Let me start off by saying I’m OK with the unbalanced schedule and Interleague Play. I’m not a huge supporter of both, but I’m OK with them. I agree that teams should face their division rivals more than any other team. I also like seeing AL teams come into St. Louis to play at Busch Staduim, and would love to see the Cardinals play in, say, Fenway Park.
Furthermore, I also understand the desire of MLB to build up new rivalries with Interleague Play. Yankees vs. Mets; Astros vs. Rangers; Dodgers vs. Angels; Cubs vs. White Sox. It makes pretty good sense from a PR standpoint.
But when the “natural rivals” experiment just isn’t taking, you gotta move on. MLB just isn’t getting this when it comes to the Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. This so-called rivalry does not matter one bit to most of the Cardinals fans I talk to. Yes, we all remember what happened in the 1985 World Series. Don Denkinger knows he blew the call and we know the Cards were robbed. We’re over it…pretty much.
So, other than that event a quarter century ago and the obvious proximity of St. Louis and KC, what is the draw here? The Royals haven’t been a factor in two decades, which encompasses the entire lifespan of Interleague Play. There are no heated exchanges, on the field or in the stands, during these series. Cardinals fans love baseball. Royals fans love baseball. But no one really cares about this matchup.
This issue came up today when I was checking the Cardinals’ 2009 schedule to see if I’d be able to make any games they played at Wrigley Field this season. I quickly realized that the Cards only make two trips to Wrigley this season. How can this be? I had to solicit the insight of Scott The Cub Fan to make sense of it all.
“Don’t they play 18 games against each other?” he asked. “How can only six or seven be at Wrigley?”
“Nope,” I replied. “only 16 this season” The official breakdown is nine in St. Louis (three 3-game series) and seven in Chicago (one 3-game series, one 4-game series).
“That’s a huge bummer,” Scott The Cub Fan said. “The schedule is really dumb again this year…even though the Central Divisions will play against each other in Interleague, the Cubs do not face KC at all but face the White Sox six times.”
I remembered seeing something similar in St. Louis’ schedule, so I looked it up. “Same thing happens to the Cardinals” I replied. “We play every team in the AL Central BUT the White Sox, and we get our usual six against the Royals.” We were both a little miffed now. Isn’t the point of Interleague Play to get teams into new markets and help ignite fan interest?
What’s even crazier is that The White Sox will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in LA this season. How exactly does that make sense? The two Central Divisions…the geographically closest teams…are playing one another in Interleague Play. So the Cardinals have to play two series against KC and zero against the White Sox; the Cubs play two series against the White Sox and zero against KC, and the White Sox play…the Dodgers?
And the craziness isn’t limited to the Interleague games for the Cardinals. This year, they play the Milwaukee Brewers twenty times. Twenty! That means 1/8 of the Cards’ season will be spent playing the Brewers. Look, nothing against the Brew Crew here, but what exactly is the point of that? Want to know how that compares to the games the Cardinals play against the other teams in the NL Central? Take a look:
Houston Astros: 15 games
Chicago Cubs: 16 games
Pittsburgh Pirates: 15 games
Cincinnati Reds: 16 games
Gosh, that looks darn close to consistent. So how hard would it have been to take three games from the Brewers and make them Cardinals vs. White Sox games? That would give the Cards 17 games against the Brewers (which is much closer to the 15 or 16 that seems to be acceptable for the other teams in the NL Central) and would allow the Cardinals to play the White Sox along with all their other AL Central opponents. Maybe some other shuffling would be necessary, but it seems like it’s at least doable.
And I don’t even get paid for such things.
photo courtesy of http://all-manac.blogspot.com/2006/05/ahhhh.html
Posted on March 12, 2009, in Baseball Dailies and tagged 1985 world series, busch stadium, cardinals, fenway park, interleague play, mlb, royals, schedule, st. louis, wrigley field. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.