Though I am not excited about many related aspects of Major League Baseball’s decision to move the Houston Astros to the American League starting in 2013, I am a bit less upset than Lance Berkman, perhaps. In fact, there is at least one potential benefit looming, as I see it.
According to ESPN, a part of the necessary scheduling reconfiguration for next season and beyond may alter the annual “natural rivals” interleague series. The teams may still meet, but would not be assured of full home-and-home, six-game series. One set is more likely, rotating annually between the two locations.
Of course, this would affect the “I-70 Series” between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.
Let’s face it, meeting the Royals was exciting back in the 1980s. Since then, not so much. Taking nothing away from Kansas City’s young prospects today, but six games each season is at least three too many for my liking. This is reinforced by the fact that in part due to the uneven divisional alignment, the Cardinals often seemed to face the same group of other interleague opponents over and over as well.
From the aspect of won-loss records, the annual Royals series has been good for St. Louis overall, especially the games in Kansas City. The Cardinals lead the Royals 38-28 in all-time interleague play, including a 24-15 mark at Kauffman Stadium.
In St. Louis, the Cards hold a narrow edge, 14-13, with the Royals leading the series 8-7 at Busch Stadium III. The Cardinals won 2-of-3 in both locations in 2011. This season, the Royals will travel to St. Louis on June 17-19 and the two clubs will meet again in Kansas City just seven days later for a second weekend series.
This is but one part of what will be a major schedule change across MLB starting next season. With an uneven number of teams in each league, there will be at least one interleague each day all clubs are scheduled to play. In one scheduling scenario, that could mean at least 30 interleague games for each team starting in 2013.
Given the necessity of change, some additional variety in opponents would be welcome.