Another Major League Baseball season is upon us and to nobody ?s surprise many of the series in the first two weeks of the MLB schedule make no sense. There are cold weather teams playing against other cold weather teams. There ?s teams that play in domes playing on the road in cold weather cities and there ?s warm weather teams playing against other warm weather teams, not to mention all of the division play so early in the season.
Yes, it is very difficult for MLB to put together its schedule each season, but baseball parks are not like NHL or NBA arenas where they have to book around other events at the venues. In the past, we ?ve seen entire series snowed out like what happened in Cleveland in 2007. The Indians ? home opener that season was mired in a snow delay one out short of a complete game before ultimately being postponed.
The following two games of that 2007 series were postponed due to snow as well. Their opponent, the Seattle Mariners, could have hosted the Indians to start the season in their retractable roof stadium.
Just last season the Pirates were the Cubs ? opponent for their home opener, but it was postponed until the next day because of snow. In fact, because of postponements early last season, the Pirates ended up having games scheduled for 13 straight days and 26 games scheduled in 27 days. Further, the game-time temperature was 40 degrees or lower for seven of the Pirates ? first nine games last season, which took place in the tropical locales of Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
This season will be no different. Of the 15 opening series, there were five series that featured a cold weather team facing another cold weather team, including the Pirates at the Reds where the temperature at game time on Sunday was 35 degrees, the second-coldest temperate to start a game in the history of Great American Ballpark. Likewise, last season the other Buckeye State MLB team, the Cleveland Indians, played the coldest game in the history of Progressive Field on April 7, 2018 versus Kansas City when the temperature at first pitch was a blustery 32 degrees.
|28-Mar||Washington||NY Mets||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|28-Mar||NY Yankees||Baltimore||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|28-Mar||Cincinnati||Pittsburgh||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|28-Mar||Minnesota||Cleveland||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|28-Mar||Kansas City||Chicago White Sox||Two Cold Weather Teams|
There was a series this past weekend that featured two dome teams with Houston visiting Tampa Bay. Another fun note about this series is that the Astros Spring Training home is Palm Beach County, Florida but they broke camp and went to Houston to play two exhibition games against the Pirates, only to turn around and go right back to Florida to open the season in Tampa Bay.
There were still more nonsensical series to open the 2019 MLB season that saw three series featuring two warm weather teams playing against another warm weather team or a warm weather team visiting a cold weather team:
|28-Mar||Tampa Bay||Houston||Two Dome Teams|
|28-Mar||Oakland||Anaheim||Two Warm Weather Teams|
|28-Mar||San Diego||San Francisco||Two Warm Weather Teams|
|28-Mar||Los Angeles||Arizona||Two Warm Weather Teams|
|28-Mar||Philadelphia||Atlanta||Warm Weather Team Away|
The second set of series of the season that begin on April 1st aren ?t much better. Ten of the 15 series feature matchups of two cold weather teams, two warm weather teams, or a dome team not playing at home.
|1-Apr||Cincinnati||Milwaukee||Dome Team Away|
|1-Apr||Pittsburgh||St. Louis||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|1-Apr||Cleveland||Chicago White Sox||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|1-Apr||New York Yankees||Detroit||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|2-Apr||Kansas City||Minnesota||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|2-Apr||Washington||Philadelphia||Two Cold Weather Teams|
|1-Apr||Texas||Houston||Two Warm Weather Teams|
|1-Apr||Seattle||Anaheim||Two Warm Weather or Dome Teams|
|1-Apr||San Diego||Arizona||Two Warm Weather Teams|
|1-Apr||Los Angeles||San Francisco||Two Warm Weather Teams|
Not only do the matchups not make geographic sense, but there are simply way too many division games to start the season as well. Division games become so much more important later in the season, yet in the first series of the MLB season, 11 of the 15 were division matchups. In the second series of the season, 12 of the 15 are division rivalries. For the Pirates, they ?ll play the Reds seven times in the first nine games. Similarly, by April 25th Milwaukee and St. Louis will have already played against each other 10 times.
It is understandable that owners of teams in domes or warmer climates wouldn ?t want to start out the season with a ten game homestand when fans aren ?t as engaged as in the months of July or August, but there are creative ways to fine tune the matchups in the first two or three weeks of the season to avoid situations like the ones mentioned above. For instance, the Red Sox are starting the season on a three-city, 11-game road trip with stops in Seattle, Oakland, and Arizona. Sure, it ?s not ideal for the Red Sox to start the season on such a long trip, but they get it out of the way early and there ?s less of a chance of their home opener getting snowed out on April 9th than it would have on March 28th.
There are seven teams that play in a dome or a stadium with a retractable roof (Arizona, Toronto, Miami, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Houston, and Seattle). Not including the dome teams, there are an additional six teams (Anaheim, Oakland, Texas, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco) that play in warm climates. That means that between domed teams and warm weather teams, 13 of MLB ?s 30 teams have a favorable venue to host games to start the season, yet in the first two weeks of the season there ?s ten series with cold weather teams playing other cold weather teams in outdoor venues.
In the end, every team has to play 81 home games and 81 road games. Those games will be played in everything from climate-controlled conditions to monsoons. However, if MLB took more time to tweak its schedule for the opening two weeks it could have more teams from the East visiting teams from the West, thus decreasing the number of division games so early in the season. In actuality, the real solution is to eliminate the whole month of April from the MLB schedule and decrease the number of games played by about 30, but that is a different subject for another day.