As I mentioned earlier today, the MLB made some big decisions for the future of the league today, voting on two of the bigger points of the new collective bargaining agreement, expected to be announced in the near future. One of them was the movement of the Astros to the American League West from the National League Central.
This news is huge for the Rays. Two 15 team leagues creates a balanced schedule, meaning the Rays will face every AL team equally instead of facing the AL East 18 times and the rest a lot fewer. Let’s face it, the AL East is just getting tougher. The Yankees and Red Sox are still great, and the Orioles and Blue Jays are just getting better. The Rays now don’t have to face those elite teams as much to make it to the playoffs. Plus, now everybody faces them the same amount, evening out the schedules a little bit.
What the even leagues also means is that there will be an interleague game every day. Instead of interleague taking up a couple weeks in May and June, it will now be spread out throughout the season. It won’t necessarily add any more interleague games, but it will mean you will get to see an AL team face an NL team more often. Some hate it, but to me inter-league play is entertaining. You get to see two completely different playing styles clash and you get to see how a team reacts when taken out of their element.
The spreading out of interleague could also mean a more balanced interleague schedule. Instead of playing one NL division in any given year, you could get a taste of each division, meaning you would get to see a greater variety of teams. This hasn’t been announced, but I think it would make more sense than trying to schedule around one AL division facing another NL division exclusively.
It will be interesting to see how the balanced schedule effects the Rays, but I think it would only help them get to the playoffs. Plus, the new wild card spot announced today has already made that road easier.