With the news that MLB's newly ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement will move the Astros to the AL and lead to year-round Interleague Play starting in 2013, it's a good time to think about how that will affect the league's schedule.
MarineLayer/VertigO tackled this on his blog in an excellent post last month, and mocked up four potential schedules.
The Astros move to the AL is clearly an indicator that there is a push for more equitable, balanced schedules leaguewide. With that in mind, here's my proposed schedule outline for each team in 2013:
72 games in division (4 other teams x 18 games each)
60 games intraleague opposite division play (10 other teams x 6 games each)
30 games interleague (10 other teams x 3 games each)
Interleague play would involve either one or (on rare occasion) three interleague series going on at all times. This is necessary given the 15 teams in each league. Here's how interleague play would break down: A team would play all the teams in its "sister" travel division every year, and play all the teams in the opposite league every other year. Here is an example for the A's:
2013: 15 games against NL West (3 against each team), 15 games against NL Central = 30 total interleague
2014: 15 games against NL West (home/road team rotates from 2013), 15 against NL East
2015: 15 NL West, 15 Central (home/road team rotates from 2013).
2016: 15 NL West, 15 East (home/road team rotates from 2014).
This would mean the A's and Giants played 3 regular games against each other every year, and rotated sites every year, like a college football rivalry. For the other two divisions, the A's would get to play every NL team within a two-year period, and HOST every NL team within a four-year period.
What are the effects of this schedule?
*A true DH like David Ortiz or Travis Hafner perhaps loses a little bit of value, as Interleague play grows from 12-18 games per team (as it currently is) to 30 games per team. 15 of those games will take place in NL parks, where it's hard to keep a true DH on the field.
*Fans in every market get to see the stars from the opposite league more often than before.
*Intraleague, opposite division play is reduced and balanced, down from 7-10ish games against each team, to six per team (a three-game "home and home" with every AL Central and East team for the A's every year). This means that the A's (and all AL Central/West teams) would face the brutal AL East less...and that the NL would face them more.
*If there is a significant talent disparity between the leagues (as some would argue currently exists), it might mean that the two AL wild cards finish with 95 wins, and the two NL wild cards finish with 88-90 wins. Any difference in league quality would be exacerbated by increased interleague play.
*The importance of divisional play, and finishing the season within your own division, would be preserved.
*The rare 2-game series and 4-game series could only happen against divisional foes, because every other series on the schedule is a three-game series (the Interleague play and Intraleague opposite division play).
What are your thoughts? What would be some other consequences of this proposal?