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Major League Baseball announced sweeping changes to schedules for the 2023 season. This will ensure that all 30 teams will play each other for the first time in the modern era.
According to the league, this was done to increase fairness and entertainment value for fans.
The theory is that fans will be able to see stars like Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts or Aaron Judge play every season.
As far as “fairness,” MLB made the case that benefits from playing in a weaker division will be partially eliminated.
For example, this season, the American League Central has been mediocre. The first-place Guardians have a winning percentage lower than all of the Wild Card teams.
By reducing the amount of games that teams like the Guardians would play against moribund teams, it should, in theory, create a more level playing field.
Further details about the schedule were released Wednesday.
Division rivals will go from playing 19 times per year to 13. There will be 52 games between division opponents, down from 76. Interleague games will go to 46 from 20. Intraleague games are reduced to 64.
While there’s validity to enhancing visibility for the league’s stars, it is unfortunate that divisional rivalries will be watered down.
Emotionally charged Red Sox-Yankees matchups, for example, will be significantly less common than in the past 20 years. But teams in divisions like the AL East will play easier schedules going forward.
On top of those benefits, having the Yankees and Dodgers or Red Sox and Dodgers play each other every year will be fun to watch. It almost certainly will lead to higher attendance figures for those games.
Most of the meddling with league rules that MLB has done over the past few years, like the extra Manfred runner in extra innings, have been poorly received.
But the changes to the schedule seem positive. It creates more unique matchups and limits benefits for weaker division leaders. Those are certainly admirable goals.
At the least, maybe the Angels new owners will be able to take advantage of the new schedule to finally bring the team back to the postseason.