Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Major League Baseball announced a wave of changes to the game prior to the 2023 season, which most notably included the pitch timer, restrictions on defensive shifts and larger bases. But one other change was made to MLB moving forward with a balanced schedule.
The new balanced schedule requires all teams to play each other every season, regardless of their league or division. This change led to the Los Angeles Dodgers already facing the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays and the future schedule holds matchups with the Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox.
The Dodgers are playing their longtime rival New York Yankees at Dodger Stadium this weekend for the first time since 2019.
“I like it,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently said when asked about the balanced schedule. “On the coaching side, there’s more travel, more preparation. But that’s our job.
“From the fans’ perspective, I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s good. I think playing a division team 18, 19 times gets a little redundant. So I think in that sense, overall, it’s been really good.”
While the new matchups that teams don’t usually see add a new twist that can bring some excitement for fans and potentially grow the game more, it does mean facing in-division opponents fewer times. That gives divisional opponents fewer opportunities to prove who is better in a season.
“I still think the balance is balance,” Roberts said. “I think a lot of times in baseball it’s been skewed as far as whether it’s a strong division or weaker division. You get a lot of games and it kind of gives you a false sense of what a particular ballclub is. But now there’s more consistency, which I think is good.”
However, the importance of each divisional game is also heightened with fewer matchups against each other, with the schedule reducing those matchups against each team from 18 times in a season to 13 for a total. That’s reduced overall divisional games per season to 52 from 72.
“They’re always important, playing divisional games,” Roberts said. “I don’t want to say they’re not as important because you’re not playing as many games within the division, so I’m just going to say they’re all important.”
Dave Roberts: MLB has parity
The New York Mets and San Diego Padres both spent big in the offseason, and dating back to last year, but Roberts believes that isn’t much of an issue and thinks there is good parity in the league right now.
“I think if you look at the balanced schedule first and foremost, and as you mention the Padres and Mets, I think there’s as much parity in baseball as there has been in my time as manager of the Dodgers,” Roberts said. “So that’s a good thing for fans. I think if you look at the American League, our division, I think the records — albeit early — are reflecting that.”
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