BREAKING

Balanced schedule coming to MLB in 2023


by - Senior Writer -
Big schedule changes are coming to MLB (Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports)
Big schedule changes are coming to MLB (Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports)

Lost in the shuffle of the MLB lockout coming to an end is a bevy of new rule changes in the new CBA. While many of those rule changes have been discussed for a while, such as nine-inning doubleheaders and a Universal DH, some rules haven't taken effect yet, but are in the proposal process.

One of those rules happens to fall on the pitching side where the MLB wants to implement a pitch clock to speed up the game. This has been done in the minors for two seasons, and it does work, just not at the level fans want to think. Another thing they want to do is ban the shift to create more

offense.

I am all for more offense, but banning the shift will not work as the shift is part of the game. To be a better hitter, you need to adjust and adapt to the shift, which many hitters fail to do nowadays. The MLB also wants to use bigger bases in the near future, hoping more stolen bases come from it. That is another part of baseball that has gone away and a part of the game that desperately needs to come back.

However, one rule isn't being talked about that takes effect in 2023, and it circles back to the current unbalanced schedule.

The 162 game format has been around for a long time, and the way the MLB does things hasn't changed because it works for them. Don't get used to seeing this schedule format anymore, as the MLB is implementing a new balanced schedule in 2023, allowing every team to play everyone each season. That means Cubs fans can witness Mike Trout and some of the American League greats every year instead of every three seasons.

Allow me to break this down for you in a bit. Looking at how the NBA and NHL do things, they currently play an 82 game schedule and yet face every team in the league. The way the NBA does it is by playing everyone in your division four times (16 games). Everyone in the alternating conference twice (30 games) and then the rest of the teams in your conference either three or four times making for the remaining (36 games).

The NHL follows a similar breakdown where they face everyone in the alternating conference twice each (32 games) while the remaining 50 games comes from their own conference and division. For the MLB, things have been simple as 142 of their 162 game season came within their own League. That was divided by facing your divisional opponents 19 times each, the other 10 interdivisional teams six or seven times, and then one American League division 16 times with four annual games with the White Sox.

While fans have gotten used to that schedule, you always had people like me wanting to see the Cubs face everyone from both leagues each season.

However, I never understood how that could be done with the current 162 game format, so many thought it wasn't possible. It is possible, and it is about to be a reality as the 2023 season will introduce the brand new balanced schedule, which all see the Cubs face all 29 teams in one season for the first time ever.

You might be wondering what their schedule will look like and if more games need to be added to make this happen. I can reassure you that the 162 game set will not change, but different schedule components will. Starting with the NL Central, instead of facing the Reds, Brewers, Pirates, and Cardinals 19 times per season, that will go down to 14 games per year, making for 56 games. To make things better, the Cubs will face each team seven times at home and seven times on the road as they will have one three-game and one four-game series.

Staying in the National League, we will look at the NL East and NL West, where things don't change much. How the current MLB schedule works, the Cubs would face everyone in the East and Everyone in the West twice, each with one series at home and one on the road. Those season series could be anywhere from 6-7 games, but now it will be a straight-six game giving the Cubs 60 more games.

That means out of their 162 season, 116 games come from the National League instead of 142, which is where things are now. With 52 games left open, we turn to the American League as this is the most significant change. Not only will Interleague play be alive and well, but playing just one interleague division a season is out of the question. The Cubs will still face the White Sox four times a season, bringing the total to 120 games, but that is it in terms of home and home sets.

The remaining 42 games come from the remaining 14 American League teams as the Cubs will face each of them once in a three-game set with seven of those series at home and seven on the road. The ones played at home in 2023 will shift to the road in 2024 and vice versa with those on the road in 2023. This will allow fans a chance to see new faces, new players, and potentially create new rivalries that are not often played right now.

Keeping things balanced and as competitive as possible was a huge thing the MLB and MLBPA preached in their most recent meeting, and this is precisely the definition they had in mind. A balanced schedule not only kicks the unbalanced schedule out the window, but it ensures that everyone plays the same schedule apart from their division.

With the NBA and NHL finding a way to play every team in only half the amount of games, it is about time the MLB follows suit to make this work. This is a massive win for the fans of the MLB, and it will bring tons of new fans with it as the viewership should increase as more interleague action takes place.

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