When the Houston Astros move to the American League next year, a great many scheduling things are going to have to change. Together with year-long interleague play, there will finally be the ability to have truly balanced schedules among the teams in each division.
Well, except for those “rivalry” series – Cubs/White Sox, Mets/Yankees, Giants/A’s, etc.) that teams typically play during the interleague season. Preserving those, after balancing everything else, would still result in a slightly imbalanced schedule for teams (if for no other reason than not all rivalries are created equally).
That may be why, according to sources, MLB is seeking to do away with those six game home and home rivalry series. From ESPN (you’ll have to excuse the exclusive mentions of Yankees/Mets as though it’s the only important intracity rivalry; it’s partly an ESPN thing, and it’s partly because the article originated at ESPN New York):
Major League Baseball is working on a scheduling reconfiguration for the 2013 season and beyond that likely will eliminate the Mets and Yankees as well as other “natural rivals” playing home-and-home, six-game series annually, baseball sources told ESPNNewYork.com.
With the Houston Astros moving to the American League West next season and the leagues becoming balanced at 15 teams apiece, natural rivals throughout baseball no longer will be guaranteed six games a season and home-and-home series, the sources said.
That goes for obvious intracity rivals such as Mets-Yankees and Cubs-White Sox, as well as for more-forced natural rivals such as the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.
The Mets and Yankees will continue to play six games a season — three apiece at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium — when the AL East and NL East line up for long-form interleague play every three years.
But in the other seasons, a major league source added, the competition likely will be limited to three games at one ballpark, or two games apiece at each ballpark.
There are pros and cons to the new approach. On the one hand, it balances the schedule more fairly (while the Cubs were facing the White Sox, the Cardinals, for example, were facing the Royals). On the other hand, it takes away some of the excitement associated with true, near-proximity, interleague rivalries.
Some folks have hated the Cubs/White Sox series since its inception (preferring to play one exhibition game in the Spring). For me, I’ve always loved it. It gets that city rivalry blood boiling, regardless of how the teams are playing in a given season. Maybe it’s because I don’t live in Chicago. I imagine some folks will say I don’t “get it.” But, whateves. It would bum me out if the Cubs and Sox didn’t square off every year.
Fortunately, it sounds like the two might still play in some, limited capacity each year. And, if the change results in a drop down from a six game home and home to a two game home and home, then the change isn’t really a big deal.
What would happen with the BP Crosstown Cup (which, I know, was your first concern) remains to be seen.