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MLB exec in charge of schedule tries to justify quirks of interleague play

Big League Stew

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(AP)

 

Though some commenters have referred to her responses being frosty and condescending, the radio interview MLB vice president Katy Feeney did with The Score in Chicago actually was somewhat informative and definitely entertaining.

LISTEN to the entire interview, some of which is quite funny, here.

Hosts Brian Hanley and Mike Mulligan had a kidding-but-not-kidding attitude in trying to pry answers from Feeney, a no-nonsense Major League Baseball exec who is in charge of creating the schedule, about why the Chicago teams were playing four midweek games against each during the first week of May. Until the past two seasons, when the AL and NL were reshaped into two 15-team leagues, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox had gotten used to playing home-and-home weekend sets of three games apiece.

It's as though Cubs-Sox, which has become a fun and well-attended local rivalry since interleague play began in 1997, was on the pay-no-mind list.

That's because it was, kind of, Feeney said. She said she didn't remember the Cubs or White Sox making a complaint, or even expressing a wish, to give their crosstown games a more "featured spot" on the schedule which, Feeney added, takes about six months to coordinate. Teams are sent a questionnaire asking to reply with scheduling wishes and preferences as part of the process.

"Major League Baseball loves all of the natural rivalries," Feeney said, disagreeing with the hosts' take. "We went to 15-15 — there are now 15 teams in each league, so there has to be an interleague series every (scheduling) slot. Every day there's not an off day. If you look at the full schedule, we have 30 teams — not just two."

OK, that was a little frosty. But she was just sparring with the hosts, who admitted the only teams they cared about were the local ones. That's the way it is across baseball — most fans just care about their team — and the schedule doesn't always keep this truism in mind. It should be noted that, next week, the New York Mets and New York Yankees play each other in two similarly crammed, Monday-through-Thursday two-game sets at their respective home ballparks. MLB isn't just saying "whatever" to the Cubs and Sox.

Apply it to any complaint you might have about the schedule — short road trips in the middle of 10-game homestands that make no sense and cause travel headaches, for example. Feeney is saying, somewhat paradoxically, that making a schedule has too many factors to be overly concerned with logic.

"Everyone complains about the schedule," Feeney said.

That they do. But scheduling all of the Cubs-Sox games for the first week of May, when the weather is historically iffy in Chicago, was not ideal. Though temperatures are expected to rise the rest of the week, fans on Monday and Tuesday came to Wrigley Field dressed in winter clothing. Some players even had those thermal frogman hoods on. June would have been better. July would have been perfect.

Next season, when MLB returns to a schedule where like divisions play each other — AL West vs. NL West, for example — teams will revert to a "three and three" schedule, which makes weekend matchups possible. "Two and two" matchups are not done on weekends in Major League Baseball. You'll never see a series scheduled for just a Saturday and Sunday, for whatever reasons of marketing.

Regardless, MLB had to schedule each team's 162 games over 183 days on the calendar. It's tricky. Feeney's scheduling team assembles the data and inputs it into a computer. A schedule is created and sent to clubs for a going over. If the complaints are heard and deemed valid, changes are made. Maybe.

If the Sox and Cubs complained about their home-and-home series, and if the Mets and Yankees did as well, they didn't complain loud enough.

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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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