Breaking down the 2013 interleague schedule for all 30 teams. What teams are forced to deviate from their regular roster/lineup construction for the longest stretch of the year?
With the Astros finally moved into the American League, we have a very different interleague schedule this year. Not only does it mean that there is now at least one interleague series happening each day of the season, from April to October, it also means that the "rivalry weekends" that were the highlights of the interleague schedule fifteen years ago have been re-shaped. Additionally, the newly balanced divisions mean that, outside of the rivalry games, all teams in a given division can play the exact same teams as their divisional opponents. No longer do the schedule makers have to worry about a six-team division matching up with a four-team division.
So how did the schedule makers do? Did the schedule turn out as balanced as can be? Were they able to ensure that teams from any one division would have the same opponents as their division-mates? Were all clubs given the same number of interleague matches or did some lucky squad or two end up a series short? One thing to remember here is that, with interleague games happening all year long instead of on two or three specific weekends, clubs are now on unequal footing when it comes to setting their rosters for the change in league rules. If one team, for example, only ever has to worry about forcing their pitchers to hit one weekend a month, they are probably in a better situation than the club forced to suddenly remove their all-star DH for nine straight games. National League clubs playing in American League ballparks will have similar problems in trying to add a DH for extended periods of time.
A look at the monetary incentive players have to perform well in the postseason.
Incentive. At the workplace, it comes in many forms. For some, it’s merely being able to keep your job. In other cases, one can receive a pay bonus. So whether for Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation or players in Major League Baseball, bonuses can be used as a carrot for performance.
For players in Major League Baseball, bonuses come in a host of different shapes and sizes. From signing to performance to awards, a player’s contract can have bonuses as a key element. One that often gets overlooked, however, centers on the postseason in the form of “shares.”
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While the starters for the Brewers and Cardinals got off to a slow start, the offenses did not in Game One.
Zack Greinkeversus "phony" Chris Carpenter. Tony Plush, er, Nyjer Morganversus "Alberta" Pujols. A showcase for the coming winter's two top free-agent first basemen. A rematch of the 1982 World Series. A good old-fashioned NL Central grudge match featuring the league's top two slugging teams, and six of the league's top 13 sluggers according to slugging percentage. This year's National League Championship Series between the "Beast Mode" Brewers and the more staid Cardinals does not lack for storylines, tough talk, or the potential for fireworks. On Sunday afternoon, the two teams produced plenty of the latter, albeit without the sideshows we'd been led to expect. After falling behind early, the Brewers used a two-pitch sequence to break the game open in the fifth inning, with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder each plating a pair of runs in the space of a few moments. Behind their big bats and their bullpen, the Brewers took Game One, 9-6.
As three series head to Game Fives, we dig up an investigation of the five-game format's fairness.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
As we prepare for the three remaining Division Series to be decided, revisit Mike Carminati's case for switching to a longer series format, which originally ran on November 2, 2006.
With the panic button on hold in Boston, here's a look at how poorly some teams have finished in September to still make October.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a playoff race after all. On Sunday in Boston, the Rays pounced on the Red Sox for six runs in the first five innings, taking advantage of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's inability to stop Tim Wakefield's knuckleball—the backstop was charged with four passed balls, and was party to a wild pitch as well—and won their third game in a pivotal four-game series. The win pulled Tampa Bay to two games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race with 10 games left to play. The odds are still heavily in the Sox’ favor because they play the Orioles seven times while the Rays play the Yankees seven times, but given that less than two weeks ago it appeared the playoff slate was all but sealed, even this much drama is a pleasant surprise—at least if you're not a New Englander.
Should contenders go to the whip to chase division titles, or would teams be better off winning the wild card?
With the regular season six weeks from completion, the Yankees and Red Sox are already assured of October play, but that won’t prevent the two AL East titans from making headlines a few more times down the stretch. But Selig can talk about parity and competitive balance until he’s blue in the face, but regardless of how often new contenders arise in other divisions, these two teams print money, and the potential for an American League Championship Series between Boston and New York will always have many salivating.
Although both teams will make the playoffs, only one can win the division, and if 2010 is any indication, this race might last until the final weekend of the season. Last year, the Yankees entered September with a one-game lead over the Rays and 29 games to play. By the time the season ended, the Yankees had posted the worst September/October winning percentage in the division (at .433) while the Rays had limped their way (.500) to their second division crown in three years. (You may have remembered this, but Buck Showalter’s Orioles won 56.7 percent percent of those games.) The division crown was not awarded until the final afternoon of the season, when the Yankees lost (although the Rays would wind up winning their game in extra innings).
Expanding the playoff field from eight to ten teams might enrich the Lords of the Realm, but what effect would it have on the fans?
Bud Selig has started up the expanded-playoff mill once again. On Thursday, the Commissioner told the AP that he believes the playoffs will expand from eight teams to 10 beginning in the 2012 season, reigniting what was already a very controversial issue even among the most devoted of baseball fans. At BP, reactions have ranged from pure criticism to mild tolerance. I propose we put to one side, at least for the moment, what the right answer is. Let’s see if we can first agree on a set of common principles on which to evaluate a proposal like this one.
Taking stock of each NL Central team's efforts to turn back the "misery clock" and return to October.
Kirk Minihane of WEEI.com wrote on Tuesday that Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is "a forgotten man in the eyes of many if not most Sox fans." With a seemingly full rotation and a bullpen to match, the 44-year-old knuckler has little room to breathe this spring, and his 5.42 ERA since the 2009 All-Star break isn't helping matters. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Wakefield is fighting for his baseball life (in fact, someone did).
Meanwhile, on the other side of Florida, Miguel Batista is also fighting for his baseball life. Signed by the Cardinals in January, the 40-year-old hurler has been quietly making his case in Jupiter for a spot on the Opening Day roster. A beneficiary of the Adam Wainwright injury, Batista has a shot at making the squad in a long-relief role or even as a spot starter.
Could Bud Selig's plan to cram in more playoff teams have a silver lining?
Somewhere among the piles of spiral-bound notebooks stacked in my closet lies a short-lived diary titled "The Last Pennant Race." It recounts the day-by-day events of the last two months of the 1993 Yankees season, of which pretty much all I can remember is, first, that the Yankees managed to tie the eventual champion Blue Jays for first place roughly three dozen times, but never managed to take the lead on their own, and second, that in one late-season game, Don Mattingly, presaging the Jeffrey Maier incident by three years, got credit for a key home run despite it being caught by a fan leaning so far into the field of play that he could have shaken hands with the second baseman.
I chose the diary's title not because I was pessimistic about the Yankees' future—after ten years of Andy Hawkins and Torey Lovullo, I could see as well as anyone that players like Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill were headed for bigger things—but because I knew that the term "pennant race" would never again have the same meaning. That's because it had already been announced that 1993 was the final season under the old four-division system; henceforth, the leagues were to be split in six, and wild cards would be born. (Thanks to the player strike that would wipe out the 1994 postseason, they were not actually baptized until the following season.)
With the Fall Classic now upon us, the staff at Baseball Prospectus shares their most memorable World Series moments.
Every baseball fan has a special World Series memory, whether it's Willie Mays' catch, Bill Mazeroski's home run, Brooks Robinson's defense, Kirk Gibson's limp around the bases, or Derek Jeter becoming the first-ever Mr. November. With the World Series opening tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco with the Giants facing the Texas Rangers, many of our writers, editors, and interns share their favorite memories of the Fall Classic.