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Cubs Asked To Open 2015 Season On Road; Denied Because Of White Sox

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This report bothered me. And it didn't have to happen this way.

David Sameshima

Buried in this Mark Gonzales article in the Tribune about the Cubs and Wrigley Field published last Wednesday was this nugget:

A request by the team more than a year ago to start the 2015 season on the road was rejected by Major League Baseball, a source said, because the White Sox did not want to open at home after doing it last year. [Cubs stadium operations chief Carl] Rice confirmed the Cubs asked to open on the road but said "it’s just the way the schedule fell" and they couldn’t change it.

Now, wait just a minute here. The White Sox complained about opening at home two years in a row? This would have meant the Sox opening at home four days earlier than they actually did?

Well, boo freaking hoo. In my opinion, Major League Baseball should have simply told the White Sox that they had to give consideration to an extraordinary situation -- the Cubs' construction project. Note that Gonzales writes that this request was made long before the Cubs had any construction delays and shows that they were attempting to be proactive about allowing extra time for any such delays. Had this request been granted, the Cubs would have had eight extra days to get ready for the season; presumably, that would have meant that this coming Monday, April 13, would have been the home opener against the Reds and the Cubs would have wound up opening in St. Louis against the Cardinals.

Here are some facts about recent openers for both Chicago teams.

Since 2000, the White Sox have opened the season at home seven times: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014. As you can see, in the first five years of this span (2000-04) the Sox opened on the road, then opened three straight years at home, then back-to-back at home twice.

Since 2000, the Cubs have opened the season at home five times: 2001, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2015. As you can see, the Cubs have had fewer seasons open at home than the Sox, and several times both teams opened away from Chicago.

So that raises the question: What would the big deal have been if the Cubs had opened on the road and the Sox had, too, as they have done multiple times since 2000? The Sox schedule could have remained exactly as it is this year, with them opening the season at Kansas City, while the Cubs opened at St. Louis. MLB should have granted the Cubs' request and had both teams open on the road.

Now, I understand scheduling isn't simple and the advent of year-round interleague play has inserted many more levels of complexity. Further, I understand that many teams make multiple requests for certain dates to be home, or not, and it's not always possible to grant all those requests.

But in this case, it would seem to have been a no-brainer to grant the Cubs' request to open 2015 on the road, even if that meant both Chicago teams out of town at the same time -- that's something that happens once or twice a year anyway. It would have given the Cubs an extra week to get Wrigley Field ready for play and three fewer games to play without bleachers (though that couldn't necessarily have been known at the time the request was made).

I hope this isn't Jerry Reinsdorf's doing. Presuming it isn't, MLB, in my view, dropped the ball on this one.