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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The 2020 Schedule Meets the Chopping Block

Life isn’t fair, as it continually reminds us, but we try to keep sports as far from the harsh light of reality as we can. The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays certainly don’t start in the same place when creating a roster, but when those players are on the field, everybody has to play by the same rules. Whether you’re facing Gerrit Cole or whatever fifth starter the Baltimore Orioles Mad-Libbed onto the roster, you have to get actual hits, score actual runs, and make actual Statcast-blessed defensive plays.

It’s extraordinarily difficult to keep the schedules teams face fair. Ideally, we’d want every team to face the same strength of schedule. With complete discretion over the design of the season, that’s still a nearly impossible task, without knowing which teams will be the best and worst ones ahead of time. And it becomes definitely impossible with unbalanced division schedules, series played mostly in three or four-game chunks, and a need to avoid having teams travel thousands of miles every day, like some character in the final season of Game of Thrones.

And even if you avoid all these things using some dark magics from the Necronomicon or Carson Cistulli’s personal notes, you’re still bound by the laws of the physical universe. Teams can’t play themselves, so even if every team played every other team the same number of games each season, the Yankees get a bonus by not having to play the Yankees, while Orioles’ hitters never get the opportunity to feast on Orioles pitching.

A consideration of the consequences of this season being shorter than usual.


QLE Posted: April 21, 2020 at 01:02 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 2020 season, dan szymborski, schedule, shortened season

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   1. The Duke Posted: April 21, 2020 at 08:08 AM (#5942579)
This was an excellent article. To me, I’d hold original schedule in place with one exception. I’d try to eliminate interleague games and backfill with games that would balance out the league schedule. Easy if all in Arizona, probably impossible if everyone is back at their home base.
   2. pikepredator Posted: April 21, 2020 at 10:36 AM (#5942637)
This might be an elementary question . . . but since there's no baseball to discuss, might as well clear up something I've always found a bit hard to untangle. Reading this:

Based on the projected team strength, the Marlins essentially start the 2020 season with six fewer wins than the New York Yankees.

I feel like it's somehow double-counting the fact that the Yankees strength of schedule is weaker because they are a stronger team (in a vaccuum) so they give other teams more losses, and don't have to play themselves. Whereas the Marlins, as a bad team, as part of the reason their SOS is higher.

Do I need to have another cup of coffee and think this through, or can someone guide me?
   3. Sunday silence: Play Guess How long season lasts Posted: April 21, 2020 at 11:51 AM (#5942686)
...since there's no baseball to discuss, might as well clear up something I've always found a bit hard to untangle.

You know I thought you were going to launch into a discussion of Pavement or MIcro breweries or something there.
   4. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 21, 2020 at 03:37 PM (#5942769)
If all 30 teams end up playing in empty stadia in Arizona, then the schedule that was built for 2020 is pretty irrelevant. The schedule builds in roads trips, typically stretches of home games and away games, etc.

But if all 30 teams are in Arizona, then all you have to do (correct me if I'm wrong), is:

1) Decide the number of games teams will play;then
2) Decide the most important factor in building the schedule (most comparable schedules, or emphasize divisions and leagues, whatever); then
3) Determine how many off days and doubleheaders you want inbedded; then
4) Whip up a schedule.

The lack of worrying about travel and geography makes this a pretty simple exercise.

Personally, I'd get rid of interleague games for 2020, and try to build a schedule that emphasizes division matchups.

Of course, I'l still highly skeptical that MLB will be able to get this together soon enough to have a season in 2020. This week, you are beginning to see states and organizations cancelling things that were scheduled to happen in June. Until we have widespread, reliable testing at a level that would dwarf what is currently happening, this is all a pretty academic conversation.
   5. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: April 21, 2020 at 04:14 PM (#5942796)
Only one rule: games between teams that have both been eliminated from the playoff race should be decided by paper-rock-scissors.
   6. pikepredator Posted: April 21, 2020 at 04:28 PM (#5942801)
I thought you were going to launch into a discussion of

. . . bringing children to breweries?

. . . appropriate and inappropriate VCR usage?

No way. I'm going way off the reservation with my threadjack re: Strength of Schedule.
   7. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 21, 2020 at 04:35 PM (#5942804)
MLB is reportedly considering a three-state plan for 2020:
The states of Arizona and Florida have already been mentioned as possible sites for the 2020 Major League Baseball season if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t prevent it from happening. In the event the campaign does get underway, Texas could join Arizona and Florida in hosting teams and games, R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports reports.

Anderson heard from a source that there’s “guarded optimism” this three-state plan could actually take effect. Major league, minor league and spring training facilities would all be potential spots for regular-season games, and there would be multiple contests per day in those places.
I prefer to call this the “BDC Plan”, and having 5 domed MLB stadiums available would provide some flexibility, although travel from one state to another might be a problem. More likely teams just play the “regular season” within the state clusters, IMHO.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: April 21, 2020 at 07:41 PM (#5942868)
The lack of worrying about travel and geography makes this a pretty simple exercise.

Also no concerns about who is at home on which holidays, who has events (concerts, fireworks) planned, etc.

Texas could join Arizona and Florida in hosting teams and games

Seems to complicate the logistics a bit (i.e. I assume it's somwewhat easier for a team to use its existing spring facility than some random stadium in Texas) and the advantage of AZ and FL is that everybody is pretty much already within a bus ride while I'm not sure that would be true in Texas. But 3 states suggests 10 teams, 2 divisions per state with a heavy intra-division schedule. It could sorta allow the same divisional structure (all the West teams in AZ, Central in TX, East in FL and one inter-league game per day). They could just scrap the current structure for a year of course. Organizing playoffs is something of a challenge but you could have them all take place in one state to minimize travel.

Might not be long before the Carolinas will want in on this. There are a bejillion minor-league stadia around NC/SC. Granted many of them are so old their clubhouse facilities are proably smaller than Barry Bonds' locker. But haven't we all wanted to see a real MLer hit bull and win steak?

   9. John Northey Posted: April 21, 2020 at 09:42 PM (#5942893)
Depends on how big a playoff you want. It could be a season of round robin play by division, change divisions so equal # of teams each. If pure Arizona then pick key rivalries to share a division as best as possible or divide so every team has a chance...
100 winners: NYY, Houston, Minnesota, LAD, Rays, Cleveland
90's/high 80's: Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, StL, Milwaukee, Mets
80's: Arizona, Boston, Cubs, Phillies, Texas, SF
70's: Reds, ChiSox, LAA, Colorado, Padres, Pittsburgh
60's: Seattle, Toronto, KCR, Miami, Baltimore, Detroit

5 divisions. Winners all go to playoffs, 3 wild cards - either best record not making it or 1 each from 100's, 90's, and 80's groups. That would make it far more even to start the season (and give a good shot for some stars to make the playoffs like Trout, and kids like Vlad who are building a rep - neither of whom would have much of a shot in normal divisions but in ones like this odds jump). A Cinderella team is a lock (whoever wins the 60's and under division is automatically the underdog). Sucks for the Rays and Cleveland but the Rays are used to it.

I think that could be a fun joke season (anything at this point in front of empty stadiums will always have an * beside it) so might as well make it as competitive as possible.

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