NEW YORK (AP) — Every major league team will play each other in the same season for the first time next year as the sport moves to its first balanced schedule since 2000.
As a result of the format change agreed to in the March lockout agreement, high-profile games between division rivals such as Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants and Cubs-Cardinals will be reduced from 19. Intradivision games will fall from 47% to 32%.
One team will host all 29 other clubs at least once every two seasons.
“I think it’s great for the fans,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m so tired of playing with the same people.”
Major League Baseball said Wednesday it will open the 2023 season on March 30 and again try to have every team start on the same day, which last happened in 1968.
A team will play 13 games against each division rival for a total of 52 and six or seven against another club in its league for a total of 64. The remaining 46 games are against in-league opponents: a two-game series home and away against a so-called natural rival and a single three-match series against each of the other 14 clubs in the opposite league.
“This new format creates more common opponents, both in the division and among your league opponents, so usually when you’re competing for the wild card, there’s a much higher percentage of common opponents across the divisions,” said Chris Marinak, MLB boss. operations and strategy officer. “And we think parity is good for competition on the field.
“On the marketing side, we think the new schedule gives our fans more home opponents, so they can see a wider range of clubs in their park,” said Marinak. “And perhaps most importantly, it gives us a chance for our star players to get more national exposure and be seen in more places throughout the season.”
The American League used a balanced schedule from 1977–2000 and the National League from 1993–2000, with interleague play beginning in 1997 and limited to 15–18 games per season for each team. Then-Commissioner Bud Selig had pushed for a return to an unbalanced plan.
The AL openers have Baltimore at Boston, Chicago White Sox at Houston, Minnesota at Kansas City, Los Angeles Angels at Oakland, Cleveland at Seattle and Detroit at Tampa Bay.
The NL openers are Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Arizona at Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets at Miami, Colorado at San Diego and Atlanta at Washington.
The Interleague opener has San Francisco at the New York Yankees, Toronto at St. Louis and Philadelphia in Texas.
Other home openers are the Giants at the White Sox and the Mets at Milwaukee on April 3; San Diego at Atlanta, Dodgers at Arizona, Yankees at Baltimore, Boston at Detroit, Houston at Minnesota, Miami at Mets and Cincinnati at Philadelphia on April 6 and Seattle at Cleveland, Washington at Colorado, Toronto at Angels, White Sox at Pittsburgh and Kansas City in San Francisco on April 7.
Toronto opens with 10 road games before hosting Detroit on April 11, a request made by the Blue Jays due to construction at Rogers Centre.
The schedule is usually updated with game times during the winter.
Next year’s start is the earliest since 2019. The season will return to 186 days from the 182 that was shortened this year due to the lockout.
Natural interleague rivals include Mets-Yankees, Cubs-White Sox, Dodgers-Angels, Giants-Athletics, Reds-Indians, Marlins-Rays, Orioles-Nationals, Royals-Cardinals and Brewers-Twins.
Among teams without geographic interleague rivals, MLB paired Red Sox-Braves, Pirates-Tigers, Phillies-Blue Jays, Rangers-Diamondbacks, Astros-Rockies and Padres-Mariners.
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The trip is roughly the same as the previous format, where teams played 76 games against divisional opponents, 66 against other clubs in the league (seven against six teams and six against four teams) and 20 interleague.
“The biggest part of what dictates your trip is the number of trips you take, and that doesn’t change the number of trips,” said Chuck Torres, MLB’s senior director of scheduling and broadcasting.
Except within its own division, a team may host or visit a maximum of three teams from another division.
To combat exhaustion, each team was scheduled for seven days off in the final 67 days, three in the final 32 and one in the final 10.
MLB attempted to have all 30 clubs play on the same opening day for four of the past five seasons.
Pittsburgh at Detroit and Washington at Cincinnati were rained out in 2018. For 2019, Seattle and Oakland started ahead of the other teams with a two-game series in Tokyo.
In 2020, the start of the season was pushed back to July 23 due to the pandemic, and the only game on opening night was the Yankees at Washington. In 2021, the Mets’ game in Washington and Baltimore’s game in Boston were postponed.
This year’s kickoff was pushed from March 31 to April 7 because of the 99-day lockout that ended March 10, and only seven games were scheduled for opening day.
Each team is scheduled to play on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, which falls on a Saturday.
The All-Star Game will take place at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park on July 11, eight days earlier than this year’s game at Dodger Stadium. Then named Safeco Field, the ballpark hosted the 2001 All-Star Game.
No games are scheduled in the two days following the All-Star game, creating a four-day break and leaving the second half to begin on July 14. The regular season ends on October 1st.
There are two scheduled day-night doubleheaders: the Padres at Philadelphia on July 16 and the Dodgers at Colorado on September 26. This year’s original schedule had a doubleheader, but 30 twins added in the revisions caused the jam.
The Cubs and Cardinals play a two-game series at London Olympic Stadium on June 24–25, and the Phillies and Nationals play in the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on August 20.
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