Right now, the New York Yankees season is projected to be 155 games long. Not that big of a difference. Not the end of the world. But it’d be short-sighted not to think more games would be canceled beyond the two series that have already been docked due to the MLB lockout.
How will this affect the schedule, though? Referencing the delayed 1995 season as a result of the 1994 work stoppage can give us some insight. In 1995, the MLB season was 144 games after the first 18 were axed, and though it doesn’t seem like a monumental difference, it drastically affected division races.
Though the Yankees only lost matchups against the AL West in 2022, the Boston Red Sox lost three games against the Tampa Bay Rays and another three against the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays and O’s also lost three each against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Everyone else lost multiple division series, which, could be a disadvantage to all parties, but The Athletic’s Jayson Stark pointed out that a lack of symmetrical schedules (depending on the opponent for each team) could have colossal implications.
Back in ’95, the AL Champion Cleveland Indians, who won 100 games, had 17 fewer games against the AL West (Mariners, Angels, Rangers and A’s, with Oakland being the only sub-.500 team) than the second-place Kansas City Royals.
Cleveland finished 30 games ahead of Kansas City when all was said and done. They were clearly the better team. But what if this scenario was flipped? Or at least equal? Maybe Cleveland wouldn’t have been the AL’s top seed? It’s possible!
How can Yankees fans compare 2022’s delayed season to 1995’s?
How about a quick exercise? Let’s say commissioner Rob Manfred, as he practices his golf swing in a stairwell to show us he has terrible form, opts to cut another 10 days of action, which would take us into that range of 15-18 games that 1995 was hit with.
In this hypothetical world, the season will open Monday, April 18. Here are the lost games per each AL East team in totality:
- Yankees: 4 vs Rangers, 3 vs Astros, 3 vs Red Sox, 4 vs Blue Jays, 3 vs Orioles
- Red Sox: 3 vs Rays, 3 vs Orioles, 3 vs Yankees, 3 vs Tigers, 3 vs Twins
- Rays: 3 vs Red Sox, 3 vs Blue Jays, 3 vs Orioles, 4 vs Athletics, 3 vs White Sox
- Blue Jays: 3 vs Orioles, 3 vs Rays, 3 vs Rangers, 4 vs Yankees, 3 vs Athletics
- Orioles: 3 vs Blue Jays, 3 vs Red Sox, 3 vs Rays, 3 vs Brewers, 3 vs Yankees
And at this point we don’t know what interleague games would be scrapped as a result, but just note that the AL East will play the NL Central this season (and the Orioles lose one of those series).
Thankfully, this is fairly even and not very lopsided, with only the Orioles losing more than three series with AL East opponents. The Orioles are the least relevant of the bunch and will avoid a gauntlet to begin the 2022 season should this happen. The Rays also avoid kind of a tough slate, though we’ll wait and see how the Athletics roster looks on Opening Day.
The more we look at this, too, it seems the league accidentally planned for a relatively clean scenario for the AL East should we miss the first few weeks of 2022.