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Bring back the balanced schedule

Almost done with the left coast

Dan Barbarisi of the Projo Sox Blog notes that the Red Sox, having survived the tough part of their schedule intact, now have much smoother sailing than the rest of the American League going forward:

Terry Francona may not be an A+ student in geography -- but he knows what it means to his team that in only May, they are more than halfway through their final west coast trip of the season. They will not return to Anaheim, Oakland, or Seattle after this weekend . . .

. . . Beyond the fact that the Sox' early schedule has included a lot of long trips, it has also matched them up against some excellent teams. Boston has played five series against their two playoff foes from 2008 -- the Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays -- and a series against the Yankees. That's a lot of pretty strong competition for this point in the year, and despite injuries and poor starting pitching, Boston is 21-13.

There was a time when every team played every other team the same number of times each year. There was something nice about that in my mind. Symmetry. Balance, to state the obvious. And variety, too, which is really important when you watch as many games as I do. Sure, we're all presumed to love having so many Yankees-Red Sox games, but there isn't even a hypothetical argument for so damn many Indians-Twins and Marlins-Nationals games. The sameness grates after a while, to the point where a team from California or Texas seems like something positively exotic, and there's something really wrong with that.

And of course, as many have noted in the past, the unbalanced schedule combined with the Wild Card and interleague play means that that teams are competing for the same playoff slot but are not playing the same schedules. Your mileage may vary, but to me there's nothing more petty-sounding and annoying than a fan complaining that his team had a tougher schedule, even when true. Let's leave such whining to the lesser sports like football and basketball and return baseball to the unassailable balance it had for so many years.

I'm no Yankees fan and on a very basic level don't care what happens in the AL East race, but it strikes me as really wrong that the Red Sox will not have to take a long flight out west after playing a Sunday afternoon game on a hot August day. Let's return to a balanced schedule sometime soon and make them take that flight.