A New-Look MLB: Two Schedules for 15-Team Leagues

Plan A
To create the most balanced schedule in the new-look MLB, each NL team needs to play fourteen AL teams ONCE a year. And each AL team would play fourteen NL teams just once. (That means, for example, the Twins would play the Reds once each year for fourteen straight years, and then would not play the Reds in Year 15.)

Each NL team would also play four NL teams 12 times each and ten NL teams 10 times each. Same idea in the AL.

Here are some unique features of this 162-game proposal:

- When a visiting AL team plays an NL team for just one game, that AL team always does not play the next day. This makes a one-game visit much more palatable. Same rule when an NL team visits an AL team. It's not that big of an inconvenience - and fans would love watching these "singletons."

- When you play Team X ten times during the season, you would be at home for a 5-game series vs. Team X, and you would play a 5-game series at Team X's ballpark some other time during the season. This would reduce travel fatigue and expenses dramatically. And fans would probably get to see a visiting team's entire pitching staff during that 5-game visit. That would be cool.

- When you play a team 12 times during the season, you would play four three-game series - two of those series at home, of course. Your 12-game opponents would be your "rival" teams, like  Red Sox vs. Yankees or Dodgers vs. Giants.

- Each team in the AL would play an almost identical schedule to the other 14 AL teams - about 95 percent the same. Likewise in the NL. This is good for competitive balance, and it gives each team an almost equal shot at reaching the post-season.

The fact that Cubs fans could "see" (on TV or at Wrigley Field) almost every American League team play the Cubs once each year is a fun inter-league feature. Other inter-league schedule proposals are unfair, in that some teams face tough teams from the other league, while other teams face weaker opponents from the other league. Plan A solves that problem.

The postseason could begin with a single Wild Card Game, with the fifth place team playing at the fourth-place team's ballpark.

The League Semifinal Series could be best-of-five games, and the LCS would remain a best-of-seven games - as would, of course, the World Series.

During the season, fans could look at the standings and see instantly which teams are likely to reach the post-season. Right next to the GB (Games Back) column would be the GB5 column, which would tell you how many games out of fifth place you were. The top five teams, of course, are the new "first division," just like MLB in the '60s and before. So, Plan A has a little bit of a retro feel. It is fair, simple, and the most balanced regular-season schedule I can think of.

Plan B
This plan is the same as Plan A except for the 14 inter-league games. With Plan B, the Mets, for example, would play the Yankees once at home and once at Yankee Stadium - every year.

The Mets would also play four other AL teams 3 times each (two 3-game series at home and two 3-games series away). These four AL teams would be different each new season.

My guess is that the owners - and probably the players, too - would prefer Plan B, even though it creates fewer common games for all teams during the regular season.

Summing up...
My vote is for Plan A because that schedule is the most balanced - and I love the idea of those one-game visits by National League teams to Seattle. Truth is, either Plan A or Plan B would be more interesting than the convoluted format now in use.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading this old lefty's leanings.

Rob Nelson
Portland, Or.

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