As Joe reported on earlier today, the Chicago Cubs schedule for the 2013 season was released on Wednesday. This schedule release was generally more anticipated then the schedule releases of recent seasons. The main reason is because with the Houston Astros joining the American League, that means that starting in 2013, there will be 15 teams in the National League and 15 teams in the American League. Meaning that there would interleague play lasting the entire 2013 season.
This is where my expectations were not met by the new formatted schedule. I was hoping that the Cubs interleague games would have been spread out through both the first half and second half of the season, in addition to the team playing more American Leagues than only the American League West division and the Chicago White Sox for 4 games. Now, I will be the first admit that I probably do not have the patience nor do I have the time to be a schedule maker for Major League Baseball, but the Cubs’ 2013 schedule is not all that different from the 2012 season.
Meaning that like this season, and seasons in the past, the Cubs will have completed all of their interleague games during the first half of the season. The second half, the Cubs will exclusively be featured in the National League. For that reason, Cubs fans should be rather familiar with the format of the Cubs’ 2013 schedule.
If my finger counting was correct, I counted 10 games in 2013 that the Cubs will play in an American League stadium. Meaning, the Cubs will only have 10 opportunities to implement the designated hitter rule. This is where it could effect the Cubs’ in some fashion. Until the release of the Cubs’ 2013 schedule, there was speculation that the Cubs could utilize a designated hitter role more than what they have done in the past once the Astros completed their shift to the American League. This would have allowed the Cubs to use Alfonso Soriano more often as a designated hitter, meaning his value to the team would have been greater than what it currently is.
But that is not going to be the case. With only 10 opportunities to use the designated hitter position during the 2013 season, expect the Cubs to follow precedent with how they went about using it this season when in an American League stadium. Thus, putting the pipe-dream scenario of the Cubs being able to use Soriano as a designated hitter on hold–for now at least. That could change if Major League Baseball ever implemented the designated hitter role in the National League. Whether or not that will ever happen, has always been one of the more popular debates among baseball fans.
Nonetheless, the new schedule format looks very much like the old schedule format with a few exceptions. This new format, when you consider the concept of Major League Baseball and the structure of the post-season, figures to be a success–although–it will be interesting to see a National League team play an American League team in the heat of division battles during the final two months of the season.