Down With The System

Every year each MLB team should play all 29 other teams.

Max Meyer

For the first 128 years that Major League Baseball was played, interleague play did not exist.

Before 1997, fans never saw the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals play during the regular season. They also wouldn’t have gotten to see the Royals play one of the best teams in the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates, at Kauffman this year.

The Royals played the Chicago Cubs for the first time since 2001 this year. This is another example of how the current interleague play system is flawed. It makes no sense, even in the current system, that it would take 14 years for those two teams to play. With a 162 game schedule it should be no problem to play every team.

Another example is that when the MLB schedule for 2016 was released last week the San Diego Padres are lined up to play at the Toronto Blue Jays. This may seem like no big deal, but it is the first time this matchup has ever happened. In the 19 years of interleague play the Padres have never traveled to Toronto. That is a glaring flaw in the system.

This begs the question: why are there not more interleague play games?

The most common answer is that baseball purists believe the MLB should not differ from the way the leagues were originally set up. They believe that teams should play the teams in their league and division much more often than national league teams. I, on the other hand, strongly disagree with this.

The casual Royals fan knows that they play a lot of games each year against American League Central teams. Most fans, including myself, get tired of watching the Royals play the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins all the time. The play 19 games every year against each AL Central opponent. That means that 76 of their games are against only four opponents. They play six or seven games against the other teams in the AL, but they play only 20 games against NL teams. Teams play only an eighth of their games against the other league. For someone who doesn’t follow baseball, that seems as if it doesn’t make any sense, and I would tend to agree.

I believe that MLB teams should play every other team for at least three games every year. My idea for how scheduling should be changed is as follows: teams will play three games against each of the 15 opposing league teams. That would total 45 games and leave a remaining 117 games to be played against their own league. Teams should play six games against the 14 other teams in their own league. That would bring the total to 84 games and leave 33 games remaining for scheduling. These 33 games would be divided up amongst their divisional foes. That would give the team eight additional games on top of the six they already have against teams in their division. That would be 14 in total, only five less than the current system. After all of that, there would be one free game and that could be used however the schedule makers see fit.

The system could be changed even more drastically, so that each team plays each of the 29 teams five times. That would leave 17 games and four more could be played against division foes. This idea would also leave one extra game.

Though this would seem like the best option, it is not practical. Playing five games against a team each year would require that teams play a two and three game series. Logistically, this could not work for teams. They could potentially play in four different series in a single week. The amount of travel that players would have to endure would greatly hinder players’ performance. Players already suffer the effects of travel enduring up to 10 game road trips. When a team plays 10 games on a road trip they have to go to three different cities. In the system I illustrated earlier in this paragraph teams would sometimes have to travel four times in seven days. That would be just that much harder on the players.

I think I am not alone among baseball fans in wishing that there would be more interleague play. In addition to being more entertaining, it would not be that hard to plan out the season. Teams could just play the New York Mets and Yankees on a road trip to the east coast. When they go to Ohio, they could play the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds. Trips to California could add the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants to a road trip against the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The MLB badly needs a boost in entertainment. Interest in the MLB is greatly lagging behind the interest in the other North American sports league. By having a wider range of opponents it would be more appealing to fans. This would be an easy change that would have great benefits.