The unbalanced schedule is not the Orioles’ problem

And, frankly, that shouldn’t be that surprising since, as long as the unbalanced schedule is unbalaced along divisional lines, its impact on divisional races should be fairly minimal. After all, other than not being able to play themselves (and the discrepancies in interleague play that should probably be cleaned up), intra-divisional rivals play roughly the same slate of opponents over the 162 game season. Changing to a balanced schedule where teams in the same divisions still play roughly the same slate of opponents wouldn’t obviously do anything to change that dynamic at the margins, as you’d still expect the better team to win more games than the losing team. If there’s going to be any change in the distribution of wins, it should be teams in stronger divisions adding wins relative to teams in weaker divisions, which would do nothing to change the balance of winning within one division or another.

Moreover, Olney compares the Orioles plight with the schedule of the Rangers and Tigers, but since both of those teams won their respective divisions and got the automatic playoff bid that goes along with that, they have nothing to do with the Orioles or any other team in any other division, as none of those teams would have been eligible for the playoff berth the Rangers and Tigers received no matter how many games they won.

This isn’t to say I’m in favor of the unbalanced schedule on the merits or anything. Like most people, I find the notion of playing fewer games against the same four teams every season quite appealing, but I also recognize that that’s merely an aesthetic opinion, not one that necessarily extends towards any problems beyond the fact that I get really bored seeing the Yankees play 72 combined games against the Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles in six months.

The unbalanced schedule isn’t killing the Orioles’ chances, anymore than its killing the Rays’ chances. After all, Tampa Bay is in a much more disadvantaged economic position than Baltimore is, as the Orioles have a reasonably strong market to play in, their own regional sports network to pump revenue into the team’s coffers, and a long and storied tradition of success as a franchise to create an identity among the fanbase. What they don’t have is any sense of how to build a good baseball team. They didn’t draft well for quite a long time before Andy MacPhail came along and insisted on signing Matt Wieters, they haven’t done a good job of developing their prospects into quality major leaguers since Mike Mussina broke into the big leagues and, of late, they’ve seen promising young pitchers fall apart at a downright unbelievable rate.

Giving them more games against the Rangers and Tigers and fewer against the Yankees and Big Bad Rays won’t help them one bit until they turn that around.

6 thoughts on “The unbalanced schedule is not the Orioles’ problem

  1. forged

    The thing that I find tricky about the unbalanced schedule is how do you compare teams from different divisions? If the Yankees meet the Rangers in the postseason, they will have played each other (most likely) 7 times. Using this season as the example, three of those games will have come in late April.

    Which makes it harder to compare how the teams will do against each other in October due to the small head-to-head sample size.

  2. An unbalanced schedule would not be a problem if, for example, the Blue Jays and Angels were not competing with each other to get the wild card. Unbalanced schedules make sense for divisional play – you cannot properly compare the records of the winners of the AL East and AL West and say who was better. That's why we have the playoffs. But once you introduce a cross-division wild card, that becomes undermined by the unbalanced schedule. BUT if you go to a balanced schedule, then there is no reason at all for divisions, as a 90 win team that finishes 3rd in one division has proven itself better than the 86 win team that came in first.

    • roadrider

      BUT if you go to a balanced schedule, then there is no reason at all for divisions, as a 90 win team that finishes 3rd in one division has proven itself better than the 86 win team that came in first.

      That's nonsense. There are simply too many teams to not divide them somehow. If you eliminate divisions then all you've done is to transform the regular season into a tedious, six-month long seeding process where the only interesting "race" is for the last playoff spot. The real problem that has been created by Selig is the three-division setup which creates small and/or weak mini-leagues and disadvantages stronger teams in the stronger divisions. Of course, this was all done to manufacture the need for a "wild card" and an additional playoff round which could be sold for big TV $$$ with lots of phony hype – the same way they're going to be selling these one-game play-in deals (which will, of course expand into an additional series before too long).

      The pre-1994 system with two divisions per league and no wild card was completely workable and still would be today. With larger divisions there's much less chance of a weak division winner and we would have the return of authentic, winner-take-all pennant races between superior teams which is what made baseball unique.

  3. BrienJackson

    Two comments to get to the unrealistic "get rid of divisions and the wild card demands?" Commenters be slipping.

  4. Ravey

    Before anyone tinkers with the schedules, I would suggest a team payroll cap would do more to make baseball more interesting. If all the teams were playing with the same number of dollars for a payroll, we would soon find out which teams have the best player developement programs, the best coaches and so on, and wins and losses were not so dependent on which teams had the deepest pockets or were willing to overpay for the best and most talent at the expense of the fans. While Yankee fans and probably Red Sox fans wouild not like my suggestion for a cap, they would probably like to see games at a lower cost for tickets, food and drink..and baseball would benefit with more teams able to compete every year (more fans in the seats everywhere) It works in other major sports and it will work in baseball too.

    • BrienJackson

      I'm going to assume this is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek trolling of me, in which case, well done sir.

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