Yesterday, we asked BCB readers, via the SB Nation Reacts survey, whether they preferred the new balanced schedule that MLB has begun in 2023, or the unbalanced schedule with more divisional games, as had been the case for quite a number of years in 2022 and earlier.
Here are the results:
The results, as you can see, are split, with a slight majority favoring a schedule with more divisional games. The marquee as shown here is what I’d much prefer — a 1:20 p.m. Cardinals vs. Cubs game — than what we’re getting in April, which is four series vs. West division teams, all of whom come to Wrigley just once.
That early season schedule is specifically what I want to address in this article. Here’s the Cubs schedule through the end of April:
As you can see, that makes 16 of the Cubs’ first 25 games at home, and 13 of them against teams from the West division, who come through Wrigley Field only once a year. (At least nine of the Cubs’ road games in April are in warm-weather cities or domed stadiums, Los Angeles, Oakland and Miami.)
What if there’s bad weather (as shown in the photo above)? This has happened multiple times in recent years — that one’s from 2019. Here’s the story of a stretch in April 2018 where there were four postponements in a scheduled nine-game homestand. That one included the game that was played in what Joe Maddon called the worst conditions he had ever seen. As I wrote during that homestand:
And now you know what it would be like if the Cubs had a homestand in early or mid December.
Those postponements in 2018 helped make a late-season schedule crunch for the Cubs that might well have cost them the division title.
Is that what MLB wants? Because they very well might get it. Looking at the schedule above, yes, there are a couple of off days where games could be made up, but otherwise we might be looking at:
- A stack of doubleheaders in April, or
- Games played in lousy weather conditions, or
Looking at the White Sox schedule, the Rangers come back to Chicago to play on the South Side in June, the Mariners in August and the Padres not till the last three games of the season. The Cubs are out of town all three times and there’s a concert at Wrigley the day after the Mariners series on the South Side, so forget about any sort of makeup game vs. Seattle at Wrigley that week. Oh, and the schedule-makers also brought another West Coast team to Chicago very early — the Giants play the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field April 3 (home opener!) and April 5-6. (That’s after the Giants travel to Yankee Stadium to open the season.)
On what planet does any of this make sense? Why are the Cubs and Brewers opening the season at Wrigley Field March 30 instead of in the domed stadium in Milwaukee? Yes, I know, the dome teams and West Coast teams don’t want the April games either, I get it, kids in school, etc. But in the case of the opening series, surely the Brewers could sell out their park for games vs. the Cubs in March and April. There’s got to be a better balance than this. Sure, the Cubs are playing the Dodgers in L.A. in April, that’s good. But why play both series between the two teams in April?
Maybe MLB will luck out and there will be pleasant spring weather in Chicago (and other northern climes) this April. It’s possible, it’s happened before, though in recent years that seems much more rare. Perhaps there won’t be any rainouts and the worst players and fans have to sit through at Wrigley in April is a couple of cold, dry nights with temps in the upper 30s.
Send in your pleas to the baseball gods right now for that sort of warm weather. We’re gonna need it, I’m afraid.