New schedule for 2013 will be fairer, but still not totally fair

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 2013 baseball schedule isn't even done yet, but already we know it won't be totally fair.

We do know that it will be significantly more fair, and that's a huge step.

Because the Astros are moving from the National League Central to the American League West, the schedule will change considerably next year. The most obvious change will be that there will be at least one interleague game basically every day of the season (including opening day, and the final day).

That's not what makes it more fair. In fact, you could argue that makes it a touch less fair.

So why will it be more fair?

I'll try to explain, based on details revealed by players union executive director Michael Weiner at Tuesday's meeting of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

 All teams within a division will play nearly the same schedule. It won't be exact, because there will still be some traditional rivalries, and because there will be a few four-game series (where another team plays a three-game series against the same opponent). But it will be close.

 The traditional rivalry games will be reduced, going from six to what in most years will be either three or four. The union and the commissioner's office are still discussing whether the traditional rivals (Mets-Yankees, Dodgers-Angels, Cubs-White Sox, etc.) will play three games (all at one site) each year, or whether they'll play four games (with the possibility of two at each site). With 15 teams in each league, each team will have a traditional rival (even if it's not that traditional).

 While interleague play will go on all year, each team will play no more than one road interleague series within the final month (or possibly the final 5-6 weeks) of the season. The idea is that road interleague series are more of a disadvantage, because of the difference in the rules between the two leagues (the use of the DH). However, commissioner Bud Selig favors a switch to where interleague games in NL parks would be played under AL rules, and vice versa. That has not yet been agreed on.

The schedule was supposed to be done by July 1, but the sides agreed to what Weiner described as a "short extension." Both Weiner and Selig agreed that the new schedule should be agreed to fairly soon.

So why won't the schedule be totally fair?

 Because baseball felt it was necessary to retain the traditional rivalries in some form, the Mets will still play the Yankees every year, while other teams in the NL East will not (for example).

 Because the sides agreed during last year's labor talks to continue with an unbalanced schedule, teams will continue to play more in-league games against teams in their own division (and it could end up being 19 games under the new schedule, which would be one more than in the current setup). Thus, teams competing for the same wild-card berth will continue to play different schedules.

Selig and Weiner said that there will almost certainly be some periods of the schedule where every team is playing interleague games at the same time. The exact number of interleague games per team is not totally set yet; it will be between 16-20 games per year.

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