It's never too early to start thinking of 2012. Especially if you're a Mariners fan. Or an Astros fan. Or Cubs ... well, you get the idea. The 2012 schedule has been unveiled and here are some quick thoughts:
1. It looks like there is a chance the World Series will go into November. The final day of the regular season will be Oct. 3. This year's postseason schedule, if the World Series goes seven games, will last a full four weeks, but the playoffs will start on Sept. 30, not Oct. 5. Assuming a four-week postseason schedule in 2012, Games 6 and 7 of the World Series would take place on Nov. 1 and 2. (And that doesn't take into account the ramifications of adding another wild-card team, still a possibility for 2012.)
2. The season begins ... in Florida. The Cardinals and Marlins play a one-game series in the Marlins' new park. Will Albert Pujols be playing in the game ... and will the Marlins actually sell out?
3. The primary interleague rotation will feature East versus East, Central versus Central and West versus West.
4. The Red Sox and Yankees conclude the season with three games at Yankee Stadium.
5. As Jayson Stark wrote in May, this season's interleague schedule was unbalanced, with division rivals playing different schedules. For example, the only AL East teams the Cubs played were the Red Sox and Yankees. The Cardinals didn't play the Red Sox or the Yankees. The Brewers had to play the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, but not the Orioles or Blue Jays. The Red Sox didn't play the Reds and Cardinals, while the Yankees missed the Astros and Pirates. And so on. So what about 2012? Once again, we see different schedules within divisions. For example:
Red Sox interleague series: Phillies, Nationals, Marlins (2), Cubs, Braves. Yankees: Reds, Braves (2), Mets (2), Nationals. Rays: Braves, Marlins (2), Mets, Nationals, Phillies.
The Rays have to play the Rangers and Angels a total of 19 times, the Yankees play the Rangers and Angels 16 times, and the Red Sox play the Rangers and Angels 14 times.
The Braves play six interleague series and get the Yankees twice and the Red Sox. The Phillies play five interleague series and get the Red Sox but not the Yankees.
The Brewers don't play the Tigers or Indians but do the play the Twins six times. The Cardinals don't play the Twins, but do get the Tigers and Indians and play the Royals six times.
Anyway, you can go team-by-team and see that we're going to have the same issue in 2012 as this season. Maybe it's minor, maybe it's not, but it certainly gives some teams a small advantage.
6. Random observation, no idea if this is true: Seems like teams don't have long home stands or road trips anymore. Used to be that 10- or 12-game road trips were common. The Cubs, for example, have just two 10-game home stands. They have one 10-game trip in June, to San Francisco, Milwaukee and Minnesota. The Cubs open the season at home against the Nationals. How about a Pujols versus Strasburg matchup for Opening Day?
7. Interleague series of the year: Royals at Astros, June 18-20.
8. The Royals host the All-Star Game on July 10. Any guess on who their representative will be? (By the way, the Royals have had more than one All-Star twice in 20 years: Mike MacDougal and Mike Sweeney in 2003 and Sweeney and Jermaine Dye in 2000.)
9. The Phillies begin defense of their World Series title in Pittsburgh.