Should Major League Baseball Change its Interleague Schedule?


May 22, 2010

Should Major League Baseball Change its Interleague Schedule? The Red Sox have been on the upswing lately, but still — throughout the first two months of the season, wins have been far more difficult to come by than many in Red Sox Nation have become accustomed to.

Now, as Boston embarks on its interleague schedule — an area in which it has excelled in recent years — it faces the Phillies, the toast of the National League. Meanwhile, the Rays are playing the Astros, and the Yankees are playing the Mets.

Who knows? Maybe the Rays will get swept by the second-worst team in baseball, and maybe the Yankees will get swept by the last-place team in the NL East, a team that has been notoriously up-and-down (but mostly down) throughout the early going of this season. But it's not likely.

It's not fair to whine about having to play a good team; when MLB makes these interleague schedules, it obviously has no idea who will come out on top and who will flop, and it would have been hard for anyone to predict the struggles the Red Sox have encountered early this season.

But it would be nice if there was a little bit of parity in the scheduling. There shouldn't be a situation where half the teams in a division are playing six games against the best teams in the National League, while the other half are playing six against the worst. There's no parity there. True, it's hard to work around interleague rivalries like Yankees-Mets and Rays-Marlins, but still — maybe all the teams in one division should play all the teams in another division. Seems easy.

Boston's interleague opponents boast a combined record of 108-96 (prior to the beginning of interleague play on Friday). New York's opponents are 100-106. Tampa Bay's are 99-108. Boston's interleague strength of schedule is .538; New York's is .475, while Tampa's is .490.

The differences aren't huge, but still — Boston's schedule, at least objectively, is the hardest, and it sure would be nice to be playing the Astros instead of the Dodgers or the Phillies, like Tampa Bay's doing.

For some in Red Sox Nation, the following may be a tough pill to swallow: While the Sox are hitting the road to play Philly in the midst of their most grueling two weeks of the season, the Rays are headed to Houston to play one of the worst teams in baseball, and the Yankees are headed across town to face an infamous underachiever in the cellar of its division.

The Astros and the  Mets are opponents the Rays and Yankees have drawn for six games; the Red Sox are playing six against a team that has won the National League pennant for the last two years.

Now, the Red Sox and Yankees — aside from the Phillies and the Dodgers — have their fair share of cupcakes baked into this year's schedule. In all likelihood, things will even out and all three teams will come out of interleague play with very similar records. But if the Red Sox get slammed — well, you can imagine what will happen to the talk radio phone lines. 

Maybe interleague scheduling needs to be revamped. Maybe there's no fair way to do it. What do you think?

Share your thoughts below. The best comments will be read on NESN's Red Sox GameDay Live or Red Sox Final.

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