Opening Day Thoughts: Balancing Act

March 31, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox right fielder Darnell McDonald (54) slides safely into second as Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Jeff Keppinger (7) applies the late tag in the first inning during their spring training game at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

This post was written by site writer and radio host extraordinaire, Toby David.

The MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint. And if that marathon has showed us anything, it's that even after 162 games, every game matters. This is especially true for the Rays considering every marginal win counts. If every game is meaningful. how can Major League Baseball continues to operate with such an unjust system? A common refrain from Rays fans is complaining about the difficulty of competing in the AL East. While this is an obvious point, with the advent of the Wild Card system, it is just as unfair that the Rays are competing for the same Wild Card spot with teams in other divisions that battle a completely different schedule. While the NFL has a similar system, the have a salary cap that reigns in the big markets and doesn't have the disparities you find in MLB.

While this is nothing new, a quick glance at the 2012 season shows how patently absurd the current model is. The Rays, Red Sox and Yankees are all battling for the AL East crown. Yet they play a different schedule. Many pundits believe the top 5 teams in MLB are the Yankees, Rays, Angels, Rangers and Red Sox. How inefficient is the MLB schedule? The Rays take on the Angels and Rangers 19 times this season. Contrast that with the Yankees taking those teams on 16 times, and the Red Sox playing them 14 times. That is a substantial difference in scheduling considering you have 3 teams with such a slim margin for error. This doesn't even take into account InterLeague play, which is a complete sham.

While the division schedule finds the deck stacked against the Rays, the Wild Card battle against the Angels and Rangers is even more remarkable. Those two teams play the Red Sox and Yankees 15 games this season, while the Rays must square off with them 38 times. While the teams in the AL East and AL West have their hands full this season, the Detroit Tigers in all likelihood will enjoy a cake walk through their terrible division.

The point is that it's time for MLB to go to a balanced schedule. Eliminate InterLeague play and have these teams square off the same amount of times each season. I don't want to hear about the travel burden. These guys aren't taking trains all around the country like they did in the 40's. If a AA kid can get on a bus after a game in Little Rock, Arkansas, drive 650 miles through the night, and play the next day, then a MLB player should be able to handle the rigors of a first class cross country flight.

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