For the first time in a long time, the Washington Nationals head to Arlington (the series is in June). There may be fans who are sick of the Rockies coming to town every year and, of course, 76 division games every year. An aspect of the new collective bargaining agreement is the idea of a more balanced schedule among Major League Baseball. The change along with the other aspects in the new CBA will start in the 2023 season. Currently, the schedule breaks down like this for the Rangers (and other MLB teams):
- 76 division games (nineteen games against each divisional opponent)
- 20 interleague games (typically four vs. a geographical rival, four against one team in a designated division, and the remaining against the other four teams)
- 66 intraleague games (against the same league but different division)
The new CBA has the breakdown of the schedule look like this:
- 56 division games (fourteen games against each divisional opponent)
- 46 interleague games (four vs. geographical rival and three-game series against the other 14 teams in the league, alternating venues each year).
- 60 intraleague games (two three-game series vs. each team)
It sounds complex, but it’s simple. For example, the Rangers will play their regular division games but play five fewer games against the Athletics, Angels, Mariners, and Astros. They’ll also play six games against all other American League teams where some years they’ll play four against Boston, New York, and Kansas City, while other years they’ll play four against Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Minnesota. Finally, the forty-six games break as such. The Rangers will play the classic two-and-two series against either Colorado or Arizona (likely alternate) while playing three-game series against all other National League teams. Yes, if you want to see Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Padres, you’ll see him at least once every two years. Or, if you’re a Rangers fan in Atlanta, you’ll see your Rangers play at Trust Park once every two seasons.
“I’ve been pounding the table on that for a while,” Chris Woodward told me. “It was silly to have so many inner-division games. If we’re not leading the division, we’re not competing against our own division at that point. If you’re in a division that is really strong, you’re at a heavy disadvantage.” Woodward brought up 2019 when the Rangers were chasing a Wild Card spot heading into July. Teams like the Indians [now Guardians] played teams heavily below .500 nineteen times, who the Rangers took care of, while Texas had to play powerhouse teams like Houston and Oakland. “I don’t think there should be an advantage there to anybody,” Woodward said. “We should play more teams more often.”
“I feel like [the old system] has worked, but I think being able to spread out games across the league will help,” Charlie Culberson said. Charlie also said he liked the idea of playing an opponent at their place at least once every two years. “I like that,” Charlie told me. “Sometimes you’re with a team for so long you might not go to the other city once every six years. It’s a cool thing.”
“Going out playing, our number one goal is to win every game we play. It doesn’t matter who is on the other side,” Jonah Heim told me. “It’s cool you get to see all of the ballparks and some that you’ve never seen and some you’ve played [and] it’s cool we get to play everybody once, [but] at the same time we’re going to go out there and win.” “I like diversifying the schedule,” Nathaniel Lowe told me. The big leagues are thirty great cities in thirty different places to enjoy.”
With the CBA changes, the balance of the schedule increases. Teams within the same division have 91% common games, higher than the 84% under the current system. For teams within the same league, like Texas, the Royals have a 76% common game schedule, which increases from 52% under the old schedule. The new schedule will also grow the game, giving fans who don’t see teams often a chance to see them take the field every two years. It also gives traveling fans an opportunity to visit their team in different ballparks. Yes, Rangers fans, you can do a thirty ballpark tour every two years with the new schedule watching only Rangers’ games.
Finally, I asked both Jonah and Nathaniel the ballparks they’re looking forward to that they haven’t played. “The Mets is my number one right now,” Jonah said. “I haven’t been to the Phillies yet. I wanted to go to Atlanta, [so] I’m bummed that we don’t go there. I want to play in San Diego too. I’ve been there a bunch, but I haven’t played.” In 2022, the Rangers will go to Queens, Philadelphia, Miami, and Denver as the National League ballparks. Also, the Braves, Nationals, and Phillies will head to Globe Life Field this year. The Braves will be in town for the upcoming homestand next weekend.
For Rangers’ Pregame and Recaps, visit the Plinck Rangers Release
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