Dodgers Hosed by Interleague Schedule
DODGERS MAY LOSE NL WEST BECAUSE OF UNFAIR IL SCHEDULE
by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor
There has always been the danger of this happening. The element of the INTERLEAGUE schedule that emphasizes regional rivalries has created an imbalance that could end up mattering if a playoff spot is decided by just a few games.
Thus far, in the short history of IL play, it hasn't been too big a deal.
- The AL powers have been so good, that having to face the NY Mets (in the case of the Yankees), or the Philadelphia Phillies (in the case of the Red Sox) hasn't proved to be a crushing blow.
- If the best teams are in the same division, they have 18 head-to-head games that would trump any IL discrepancies anyway. If you can't beat your big rival head-to-head, don't go whining about the schedule!
- The National League hasn't seen any disasters from its end either. The best teams are making the playoffs. Unfair IL schedules aren't sending any pretenders to the postseason.
- Regional rivalries draw SO well that the league has no reason to dispense with them. For some teams, (like the Cubs and White Sox), those six games are often one of the biggest highlights of the whole season. If the Cubs and White Sox both get great at the same time, tough luck!
This year could be the first time where a team truly gets HOSED by an unfair IL schedule. We've been talking about this for several days now with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They're consistently in marquee series with top AL teams, so they're a mainstay of media coverage. That will only intensify this week when the New York Yankees come to Chavez Ravine to renew a rivalry from past decades.
Once that series is in the books, the Dodgers will have played:
- 3 games against the defending World Champion Yankees
- 3 games against the red hot Boston Red Sox in Fenway, arguably the best team in baseball over the past five weeks
- 6 games against the red hot Los Angeles Angels, the team arguing with Boston about who's been best over the past five weeks
- 3 games against the Detroit Tigers, a pennant contender in the AL Central.
- Nobody else!
That's it! A full 15 games against the very best the American League has to offer at this stage in the season. No spots to relax against somebody like Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, or Seattle. Heck, not even a game against Oakland or Toronto. Outside of Detroit, it was strictly a murderer's row...and Detroit ain't chopped liver.
|Dodgers-Yankees is just one of several big grudge series going down this weekend and the Hurley Network is locked in on three key games. Click here to learn more about the big winners we have planned tonight!|
Let's compare that to what will end up being the full IL schedule of the San Diego Padres...
- 6 games against horrible Seattle, who is the "rival" of San Diego when it comes to home-and-home matchups against the AL. Oakland, Texas, and LAA all had clear regional rivals when IL play was introduced. Seattle needed one, and the commissioner gave then San Diego. Most seasons, who cares? This season? Big deal!
- 3 games vs. Baltimore, possibly the worst AL team of the last decade
- 3 games vs. Toronto, a nice team, but not a league power
- 3 games against Tampa Bay, who lost their momentum from a red hot start just as IL play was getting under way (which is why they made Florida look so good)
That's basically 9 pushover games (relatively speaking), and six games against teams playing at a caliber that's slightly above .500 in the big picture. Not a murderer's row at all.
Entering the weekend, the Padres lead in the NL West is smaller than their lead over the Dodgers in IL play exclusively. Versus the NL only....the Dodgers have been the more successful team.
Let's do San Francisco...
- 6 games with Oakland, an AL team that's slumped in recent weeks to fall way off the pace in the AL West
- 3 games with horrible Baltimore
- 3 games at Toronto
- 3 games vs. Boston this weekend
That's a little tougher than what San Diego is dealing with, because Boston's been better than Tampa Bay recently. But, it's virtually the same schedule if you assume slumping Oakland is about the same as Seattle.
If only NL games were counted, the Dodgers would be ahead of the Giants in the standings too.
Let's do Colorado, another winning team from the tough NL West...
- 3 games at Kansas City, one of the worst teams in the AL
- 3 games vs. Toronto...played at home...where Colorado has a HUGE advantage over AL teams who aren't used to playing at altitude
- 3 games at Minnesota...fairly tough spot in a new stadium
- 3 games vs. Boston...the red hot Red Sox, but the games were played at altitude
- 3 games at the LA Angels, which is another tough spot
Once you get past Kansas City, this is a tough slate. It's certainly A LOT tougher than what San Diego and San Francisco were playing. But, the home field advantage is the extenuating circumstance. We talked earlier this week about Colorado's FANTASTIC home record the past few years in IL play against ill-equipped visitors. The Dodgers don't have that perk.
Entering Thursday action, the Dodgers were dead even with the Rockies despite trailing them by SIX GAMES in IL action. Throw out IL action, and the Dodgers would lead them by six games in the standings.
So, not only do we have a case where a top team in a division may miss the playoffs because of an unfair schedule. The Dodgers have to deal with four other threats who ALL had easier schedules than they did!
We hope FOX and ESPN give this some coverage during their national telecasts of Yankees/Dodgers action this weekend. At the very least, it will give fans a better appreciation of what the Dodgers are going through, and where they really stand in the NL West.
That Yankees/Dodgers series is one of many we'll be watching with great enthusiasm this weekend. We'll truly have a grand finale of matchups in this last weekend of IL action.
CONTENDERS VS. CONTENDERS
NY Yankees at LA Dodgers
Boston at San Francisco
Colorado at LA Angels
Minnesota at NY Mets
Detroit at Atlanta
Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox
Cleveland at Cincinnati
Houston at Texas
Washington at Baltimore
It might be stretching it to say that we have a potential World Series preview this weekend. But, there will certainly be a playoff feel in those five stadiums were contenders are facing contenders. And, the regional rivalries always draw well too, meaning you should get motivated efforts from everyone involved.
You know you're going to watch a lot of baseball this weekend. WATCH AND WIN WITH JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!
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