Unlike every other professional sport, Major League Baseball outsources it's schedule making duties. Independent parties ranging from mom-and-pop outfits to major corporations take a crack at setting up a fair and efficient 2,430 game schedule, submitting their proposals to MLB sometime in June. MLB announces the "winner" in September, and although the compensation the winning party receives is unknown, but you can bet it's a handsome 6-figure payout.
Whoever made the schedule last year did the Yankees a favor with the games they lined up in September. The Yanks played 27 games in September prior to the much hyped Red Sox series to close out the season, facing opponents with a combined winning percentage of .487. The Sawx played 28 games in September prior to the Yanks series, in which they faced opponents with a combined winning percentage of .527. With the season ending like it did (Yanks-Sox had the same record, but New York won the AL East because they won the season series 10-9), you can certainly say the Yanks would have missed the playoffs without that favorable set of games in September (don't forget Cleveland finished only 2 games out of the Wild Card spot) .
Well, it's that time of year again. Spring Training games start this Thursday
, so I thought I'd take a look into the 2006 schedule
and see what it has in store:
For the fifth time in 6 years, the Yankees kick off their season on road, this time with a 6 game West Coast swing that takes them to Oakland and LAnaheim for 3 games apiece. It's smooth sailing for the rest of April after that, with 17 games (12 at home) in 22 days rounding out the month, featuring teams that combined for a measly .444 winning percentage in 2005 (Kansas City, Minnesota, Toronto, Baltimore and Tampa Bay), although the Blue Jays won't be such a push over this time around.
May's schedule isn't very pretty, of the 29 games, 15 are on the road, including 5 at Fenway. The Yanks will see the Red Sox 8 times in May, as well as Oakland and Texas a combined 10 times. If you don't get out to the Stadium much and want to see some fireworks, head out to the May 15th thru 18th series to check out Texas' only visit to the Bronx in 2006 - some ERAs will definitely suffer irreparable damage over that 4 game stretch. Interleague play kicks off on the 19th, as the Yanks head over to Shea (It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a...no wait, it's a plane.) for a 3 game set, followed by a 3 game visit to Boston.
The Yanks face their first mid-season make-or-break stretch in early-to-mid June, as in 11 days they play 10 games against the likes of the Red Sox (4 games), A's (3) and Indians (3). On the bright side, all the games take place in the Bronx (the off day comes between the A's and Indians series).
Interleague play resumes for the Yanks almost a month after it began, as they head off to visit old friends Alfonso Soriano in Washington and Jon Lieber/Flash Gordon in Philly over a 6 game span from June 16th to the 21st. Following that trip, the Yanks settle into a 9 game homestand with visits from the team formerly known as the Marlins, the Braves and the Mets.
The Yanks head into the All Star break with a bang, as they must endure a 7 game road trip highlighted by a 4 night visit to the emerging juggernaut in Cleveland before wrapping up the first half with a 3 game set at Tampa Bay.First-half breakdownNumber of Games
: 88 (40 at home, 48 on the road)Division games
: 31, 12 vs. Boston (7 at home), 5 vs. Toronto (3 at home), 6 vs. Baltimore (3 at home), 8 vs. Tampa Bay (3 at home)Longest Road Trip
: 7 games (3 instances: May 1st thru 7th - 2 at Boston, 2 at Tampa Bay, 3 at Texas; May 29th thru June 4th - 4 at Detroit, 3 at Baltimore; July 3rd thru 9th - 4 at Cleveland, 3 at Tampa Bay)Longest Home Stand
: 10 games (2 instances: May 9th thru 18th - 3 vs. Boston, 3 vs. Oakland, 4 vs. Texas; June 5th thru 15th - 4 vs. Boston, 3 vs. Oakland, 3 vs. Cleveland)Longest Streak Without an Off-Day
: 17 days (May 26th thru June 11th - 3 vs. Kansas City, 4 at Detroit, 3 at Baltimore, 4 vs. Boston, 3 vs. Oakland)
The second half kicks off with 13 games in 13 days, featuring a 3 game visit from the defending World Champion White Sox immediately following the All-Star Break. The Yanks then head out for 7 games away from the Bronx on July 20th when they visit the Blue Jays for 4 games followed by a 3 game visit to the Launching Pad at Arlington.
The annual set of 20 games in 20 days (the most consecutive games allowed by the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, every team endures one 20-in-20 a year) kicks off August 6th with a visit to Chicago, followed by visits from the Angels and Orioles. Ten games into the stretch comes a nightmare, 4 games at Fenway followed by a cross-country flight for a 3 game series at Seattle followed by the team's second 3 game visit to LAnaheim of the season. 20 days. 20 games. 14 of which are against teams with serious playoff hopes. That very well could be the defining stretch of the season.
The Yankees cruise into September on the heels of 13 games against the Tigers, Twins, Royals, and Devil Rays, all of whom could be out of the race and holding auditions for young players by then. Nine of the Yankees remaining 16 games are at home (including the final 6), with the road games taking place in Baltimore and Tampa Bay. The Yanks and Red Sox meet for the final time for a 3 game stretch in the Bronx starting Sept. 15.
The season concludes with what could be an interesting 3 game set at the Stadium. The much improved and much-hyped Blue Jays visit the Yankees, could the division be on the line like it was last year at Fenway? Stranger things have happened.Second-half breakdownNumber of Games
: 74 (41 at home, 33 on the road)Division games
: 45, 7 vs. Boston (3 at home), 13 vs. Toronto (6 at home), 13 vs. Baltimore (6 at home), 10 vs. Tampa Bay (6 at home)Longest Road Trip
: 10 games (August 18th thru 27th - 4 at Boston, 3 at Seattle, 3 at Anaheim)Longest Home Stand
: 7 games (August 11th thru 17th - 4 vs. Anaheim, 3 vs. Baltimore)Longest Streak Without an Off-Day
: 20 days (August 8th thru 27th- 3 at Chicago, 4 vs. Anaheim, 3 vs. Baltimore, 4 at Boston, 3 at Seattle, 3 at Anaheim)
162 games in 182 days. Forget those silly commercials, I really live for this.