Major League Baseball has made some significant changes to the teams' 2023 schedules in order to make the schedules more balanced. This attempt at balance addresses how many games teams play in their own division, against the other divisions in their league, and against the opposing league.
The "more balanced" baseball schedules will begin opening day, March 30, 2023. Here is what the changes mean for the Mariners.
1. Within the American League West
For many years, the Mariners have played their AL West opponents 19 times each for a total of 76 games. In 2023, the Mariners will play Oakland, the Astros, the Angels, and the Rangers each 13 times, six fewer games than before, for a total of 52 games. (This gives the league 24 games plus 2 games from other AL teams to reassign.)
2. Within the AL Central and East Divisions
The number of games against the other ten American League teams will stay almost the same. The Mariners previously played 64 games against other American League teams and now the team will play 62 games. For six of our AL opponents, we will play six games. For four opponents, we will play 7 games.
3. Against National League Teams
Previously the Mariners played 20 games against teams in the National League. Now, the Mariners will play 46 games against the NL teams which means that they will play against every NL team.
How will these games against National League teams work?
Many teams have natural rivals against teams in the opposing league such as Oakland and San Francisco, the Yankees and the Mets, or the Angels and the Dodgers. Teams will play 4 games against a rival team from the opposite league. (It appears that the San Diego Padres are the Mariners' rival team because they are the only opponent the Mariners play four times).
The Mariners will play seven three-game series at home and seven three-game series on the road against National League teams. The Mariners are scheduled to play these teams through the season, in order: Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres (away), Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres (home), Cincinnati Reds, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Why did the balancing occur? MLB was concerned that some divisions were more competitive than others. For example, postseason-quality teams might be eliminated in a very competitive division or less competitive teams might go forward in a division with less competitive opponents. This is where the balancing comes in.
This shift will mean that all MLB teams will play a schedule that more closely resembles the schedule of every other team. There is a sense that fewer division games and more games against the opposing league mean that when it comes time for teams to qualify for the postseason, the teams’ season records will be more equitable. While this is not a perfect balance, this approach is more balanced.
There is also a perk for the fans in this balancing. Although not all the National League teams will play the Mariners at home, half of them will. This gives our fans the chance to see other teams’ stars in person when at T-Mobile Park or on TV when away.
As a fan, I like this change. While playing other AL West teams enables fans to learn more about each of those teams, thirteen games is surely sufficient for this purpose. This balancing offers varied opponents. It would be nice to see Mitch Haniger and other Mariner alumni by playing every other MLB team.