Major League Baseball did it again.
The Cubs had a nine-game homestand last April in which they had four postponements and another game played in horrific weather conditions, the latter largely because it was well known that the next day’s forecast was worse, and they were probably going to have to call that game (which did happen), and MLB didn’t want to have to try to reschedule two postponements.
This isn’t just a Cubs issue. In 2018, the Tigers and Pirates were slated to play home-and-home three-game interleague series. Both of those series were scheduled before the end or April! Result: one postponement and only two game-time temperatures above 50.
I understand it’s not easy to schedule two 15-team leagues. Until MLB expands to 16-team leagues — and that could be a decade away — someone’s going to have to play interleague every day. And in the case of a schedule like this year’s, when the A.L. West is playing the N.L. Central, there are some games that will be played in northern cities. On the other hand, the N.L. West is playing the A.L. East this year and not one of the N.L. West teams is being forced to play in the Northeast in April.
In addition, for the second straight year, the Cubs have had a lot of their off days frontloaded into the season’s first two months. In 2018, the Cubs had nine off days before May 31 (and three of those were used to make up postponements). This year, again there are nine Cubs off days before the end of May. It could be argued that MLB is doing that in order to have possible makeup dates for postponements. That argument ignores the fact that if you have a postponement in April or May, the weather on an off day those months is also likely to be lousy!
Last year, that resulted in a situation where the Cubs had three scheduled off days from August 21 through the end of the season, and two of them were used for making up previous rainouts.
This year? Identical. From August 20 to the end of the 2019 season, the Cubs have three scheduled off days (two in September), and it’s very likely that one of them (Monday, August 26) is going to have to be used to make up Sunday’s rainout against the Angels.
Meanwhile, the Brewers, who have a stadium with a roof and thus don’t have to worry about postponements for half their schedule, also have two off days in September — but five in August, where the Cubs only have three. And the Brewers played the Angels last week — in Anaheim, where the weather is rarely an issue.
Lest you think I’m accusing MLB of bias in scheduling here, I’m not. It’s simple thoughtlessness. If MLB is going to continue opening the season the last week of March, they should be minimizing the number of games played in cold-weather cities for the first couple of weeks of the season. I understand the fact that the warm-weather and dome teams don’t want tons of games frontloaded into their April schedule, because attendance isn’t as good in the early months with kids still in school, families not vacationing, etc. But there has to be a better balance toward playing games in better conditions for baseball.
And the Cubs shouldn’t, and won’t, use the schedule as an excuse. But their 41 scheduled games over the 2018 season’s last 43 days were a grind. MLB shouldn’t have scheduled the 2019 season to make for another possible grind.