Best parts of MLB’s new balanced schedule

Load up your Google Calendar, earn your hotel loyalty points, earn your frequent flyer miles: the 2023 MLB schedule is here. And this year is very different from every year before.

For the first time, every team in baseball will play every other team in baseball at least once. Frustrated that you’ve never seen your team play Mike Trout? This year it will be time. And if we move forward, it will happen everyone Year.

That means fewer games against division opponents, but it also makes for some great matchups…many of which we haven’t seen in a while.

What are the best parts of the new schedule format? What do we get to see from this? Here are some fun takeaways.

1. The stars will all play against each other

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper will always be connected. They spent most of their time in the Minors and were compared to each other; both broke into the majors in 2012; both were named Rookie of the Year; both have won multiple MVPs; Both are likely inducted into the Hall of Fame. But they have only played each other seven times in their entire career. That will change just before Labor Day 2023 in Philadelphia when the Angels come to town. (Trout can even see his beloved Eagles stadium just down the road.) We see Paul Goldschmidt vs. Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. Juan Soto, Pete Alonso vs. Julio Rodríguez. You’ll see every matchup you can think of at least once… and maybe more.

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2. You get a much more balanced wild card race

We’ve always built certain inequalities into our wildcard races. For example, the Orioles and Rays typically have a harder time getting a wild card spot than the Twins or the Guardians because the AL East is generally deeper than the Central. But this problem will soon be alleviated. Each team will play 24 fewer games against their division opponents than before, 52 instead of 76. Previously, teams played more games against their division opponents (76) than against the rest of their league (66). Now they play 64 against the rest of the league and 52 against their division. The Cardinals and Brewers can no longer benefit from the Pirates, Reds and Cubs. Everyone is now much closer to playing the same schedule.

3. You can now plan a different road trip every year and not repeat one for a while

If you’re a fan who gets together with your friends to watch your team play in a stadium you’ve never been to before, you’ve been addicted to which division happened to be the crossover for your team’s schedule. (That’s why it took Albert Pujols eight years to first visit Busch Stadium as an Angel.) That’s no longer a problem. If the White Sox don’t make a trip to, say, Miami this year, don’t worry: they will be there next year. No matter what, at least once every two years, your team will visit every baseball park.

Can you believe the Giants — notoriously one of the Yankees’ most hated World Series rivals when the two teams shared the same city — haven’t been to Yankee Stadium since 2016? Well, they’ll be going back there this year… on opening day, no less.

5. We get annual World Series rematches!

The Braves and Astros were lucky enough to get to play this year, but that doesn’t always happen: it used to only happen once every three years. Whatever the matchup this October, you’ll see these teams play each other again in 2023. One suspects that the memories will be long. This also applies to all past World Series. Did you love this Dodgers Rays series in 2020? That Mets-Red Sox series from 1986? Tigers Cardinals in 1968? Each and every one of these matchups will happen at least once.

6. No one is left out on opening day and July 4th

You know that sinking feeling when you realize this your team didn’t play on the opening day, or that you would have to listen to Another Team play at the Independence Day BBQ? That won’t be a problem anymore. For the first time since 1968 – weather permitting – every team will play on opening day and all 30 clubs will also be on the field on 4 July. Sounds like a national holiday to us.

7. League-wide pennant hunts lasting until the last day with some riveting duels

Looking ahead to next year’s schedule, some of the usual suspects will clash in the final week of the season. Dodgers giants. Mets Phillies. Cardinals Cubs. Yankees Blue Jays. But the added interleague series makes for some deeply compelling matchups, like White Sox-Padres, Twins-Rockies, Astros-D-Backs. And because of the three wild cards in each league, all of these races now feel global as every game impacts every other game in a way it didn’t before. Every team now has every common opponent. Every team sees everyone. All the way to the end. We’ve never seen it before. It will be absolutely mesmerizing.

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