The new 2013 season schedule is out! I've checked it out (for all 30 teams to some small degree) to see how it deals with the new realignment. The Houston Astros will be moving from the NL Central to the AL West next year, and each league will have 15 teams, and each division in baseball will have 5 teams.
I believe in an unbalanced, yet symmetrical, schedule. Baseball history was full of such a thing until 1977 when the American League expanded from 12 to 14 teams. Well, the new schedule has a number of surprises, some seem good, others not so.
I believe in an unbalanced schedule simply because if you have divisions and a balanced schedule, the divisions are meaningless. You simply need to play more games against teams in your own division. Otherwise, just have one league and x number of playoff teams.
I believe in a symmetrical schedule simply because it fosters a level playing field for all teams. If the schedule is asymmetrical, there will be built-in bias for some teams.
Okay, enough of that. Let's get to the schedule. The schedule is unbalanced, and slightly asymmetrical. The schedule retains the traditional 162 games for each team. It seems that each team plays the other teams in its own division a total of 19 times each. Ten in one park, nine in the other. Nineteen games times four other teams equals 76 division games. Each team plays the other ten non-division teams in its own league either 6 times (against four of the teams) or 7 times (against six of the teams) for a total of 66 out-of-division league games.
Interleague features for the very first time that each team in a division plays each team in the other league's matching division, and only that division. (Except for "rivalry" matchups which I will get to next.) Each team in a division plays the teams in the other division a mix of games: three games each against four of the five teams, then two separate two-game series - home and away - (for a total of four games) against the fifth team. This totals 16 interleague games against the selected division to be played that year. In addition, because each league has an odd number of teams, every series during the year will see at least one interleague matchup, including opening day and the last series of the season.
Finally, the "rivalry" interleague games. For the first time ever, every team in baseball has a rivalry team in the other league. This is because the number of teams in each league are the same. I will provide a separate post listing those rival matches. Here's the cool thing about the rivalry matchups. All rivalry series in baseball will be played simultaneously. The last week of May, starting with Memorial Day, will see a four game series (M, Tu, W and Th) between each rivalry. But, it will be a four game home-and-away series! The first two games on Monday and Tuesday will be in the park of one team, and the second two games will be in the park of the other team! This means that the metro areas that share two teams (and thus are rival teams) will play four games completely within the metro area. I will develop this, again, in a subsequent post. Also, I noticed a scheduled day-night double header during one of the rivalry series. I'll tell which teams at a later time.
So, each team it seems will play 76 division games, 66 inter-division games, 16 interleague divisional matchup games, and four interleague rivalry games, for a total of 162 games. As strange as some of the things are in this schedule, the relative symmetry compared to schedules past is far preferable to there being an interleague matchup each day of the season, as an example.