One hundred eighty four games. So far.
That is how many games have been removed from the schedule after MLB's second announcement of cancellations on Wednesday. 7.6% are out of 2,430 contests originally scheduled. We only hope this doesn't get any higher.
If an agreement can be reached, each team will pick up its regular season schedule at the start of its fifth series. Opening Day is set for April 14. While cutting four series per team may be the easiest way, it's not ideal. This is not because you get less baseball. Each team will be affected by the cancellations in a different way.
The 2022 season has been shortened to an incongruous reality. This schedule is more fair than the one that would have been in place if the original list of cancellations had been kept.
Most teams begin a season by playing a couple series at home before going on the road to play a few more. In the first round of axed games, many teams lost all of their games at home, or all of their road games. This created a significant disparity in the majors. The majority, but not all, of this home-road disparity is gone.
How large of an effect would all this have?
We'll get to the question. However, teams will play between 150 and 148 games each. This may not seem like much, but if you lose a race in a division or are unable to earn a wild card spot, call your favorite 1972 Red Sox player for a chat.
This is because it has been done before.
A players' strike over a dispute about a pension resulted, in 1972, in 13 days, in 86 lost games. There were other seasons that saw lost games, including 1985, 1994, 1995, and 1995. However, 1972 is the most similar to the current lockout because of the timing of the baseball calendar and the similarity in the totals.
As was the plan for 2022 when play began in the 1972 seasons, teams simply picked up their schedules as they were originally laid out and started with the day that they were ready to go. The history of the 86 games that were lost was simply over. The resultant schedule was not equitable, as will be the case for 2022. However, the problem was not limited to 1972 when teams played between 53 and 156 games. One example is the TwinsThe team lost seven games at home, while the AngelsAnd PadresBoth lost one home gate. This is weird stuff.
The only disparity that had lasting implications was that between Red Sox and Tigers. This serves as a warning for MLB regarding how to balance the remaining slate in 2022.
The Tigers dropped six games from their 1972 schedule. Three of those were at Tiger Stadium. Seven of the seven losses came to the Red Sox, four of which would have been at Fenway Park. This doesn't seem to be a huge deal when you consider that Boston lost the AL East title by half-game. In their 156 games, the Tigers won 86-70 while the Red Sox lost 85-70.
In 1972, the Red Sox became the team who lost a division title just because they played one more game than their chief opponent. It didn't cause quite the stir you might expect. The reason for this is because Detroit and Boston played a three-game series at Tiger Stadium to end the season. This was what drew most of the attention. The Red Sox led the series by a half-game, but the Tigers won two of the three games. Boston managed only two runs and clinched the AL East, making the season finale moot.
Carl Yastrzemski referred to the narrow loss in the division as the worst of his career. But, as you all know, Yaz was still a long way off from the 1978 Bucky Dent game. In fact, there's a reason we can recall Yaz's reaction when he was faced with that terrible misfortune. Keep checking back.
50 years later, the Red Sox case against the '72 Red Sox is still a terrible injustice. One that often gets overlooked when old stories about rotten Boston luck are told. The truth is that it wasn't just that the Red Sox lost their crown by a half-game. One of the series that was wiped away early on was a three-game series at Fenway that would have pitted Detroit against the Red Sox. A game between Detroit's teams was also lost to the strike.
The current dispute has a very different context than the one in 1972. It is not a lockout, but a strike. However, the question of how the season will be played out remains the same. The historical perspective doesn't show much of what baseball got in 1972. Yet, we are here again.
Effect on the races to date
It would be much more productive to just discuss baseball, instead of all the CBA quarreling. We can only talk about the actual competition. We can see from one glance that cancellations are not evenly distributed.
Two ways were used to simulate the 2022 schedule. First, we played the whole thing without any cancellations. The second was for the simulations to be run with all the canceled games removed.
The playoff format was a 12-team bracket with two additional teams added from the postseason in 2021. We used a best of three wild-card round, with the highest seed winning all home games. There was no reseeding between rounds.
We can calculate how much each club will be affected by a strange schedule based on the differences in the simulations. While the differences might not seem significant when you consider a long season, they are still important. For an example, take 1972.
These are the numbers that we ran for each league, along with some observations.
• While two of the division races aren't close, the AL East is a barnburner. The Blue Jays end up winning the division by 1½ games after ending up playing one fewer home game than the Yankees. New York's main complaint is that the Blue Jays won a four-game series against them at Yankee Stadium, April 11-14.
• In a screaming referendum for a realignment that makes sense with a 12-team playoff format, the battle for the No. The Blue Jays have a half-game lead over the White Sox in the battle for the No. 2. The Jays played another game. Not good.
Any differences would be due to the quality of competition. It matters: The White Sox lost nine games against the Royals. Tigers. Twins. While the Blue Jays won a series against Rays. They also avoided that set in New York. Toronto also loses a series to the Orioles.
• In a battle for the No. 6 seed, the Red Sox avoided the fate of their 1972 predecessors and won a one-game victory over the Angels. Both teams lost 12 games due to the lockout. Six at home and six away. Due to the cancellations, this was only one home-road difference that was balanced out in a head–to-head comparison between contenders.
• The NL East race turns into chaos. The Braves edge the Mets by 1½ games. New Yorkers will be protesting the canceled games. Although they lose fewer road games than at home, the Mets play one less game. But, two of those home games they lost are still significant. They would have been against Braves.
Notable: The third-best division champ does not get a bye in 12-team format. This means that the stakes for this potential Mets-Braves race might not be as high.
• This version of the schedule is a little bit less cruel to the Dodgers, who before lost a seven-game opening homestand and no contests on the road. They still lose more away than at Dodger Stadium, but the Giants win almost a game in simulations, despite missing trips to San Diego and Milwaukee to begin the season. Plus, they have a home set against strong Padres.
Although there is enough difference in forecasts between Giants and Dodgers, it doesn't have much impact on the divisional races. However, if the race gets close, keep an eye out.
• The Braves and Brewers end up in a fairly close race for the No. 2 seed and the bye. Despite an early hit, the Brewers have a sufficient gap in these projections that they can earn the bye. Milwaukee also loses a road series against the Orioles (rebuilding club) and the Brewers.
• The race for the sixth seed in the NL is a mess:
Giants, 77-72, .5168
Phillies, 78-73, .5166
Cardinals, 77-74, .5099
Reds, 76-74, .5067
• The additional cancellations changed this race a bit, without really clarifying it. The Cardinals lose ground and the Reds move into the perimeter. St. Louis's losses aren't exactly a murderer’s row. Pirates and Cubs away, Pirates & Royals home.
• But the real beef now is between the Giants and Phillies. They lose the seven-game road trip that the Giants had, but that is not all. Here's how the Giants stack up in terms of winning percentage. San Francisco plays two more games than the Phillies and finishes five games higher than.500.
Oh dear. What's the next step? What if MLB decided to play tiebreaker games even though the teams aren’t actually tied? Are we going to accept that tiny difference in percentage? The winning percentage would prevail, regardless of how many decimal places are needed, as long as all other parameters related to the playoff format remain within the CBA.
If we need to use four decimal points of winning percentage to determine a wild-card spot competition among teams that did not play the same amount of games, then that would be a fitting solution to a 2022 season which is beginning under a very dark cloud.
Giants slugger, on the other hand. Mike YastrzemskiCarl, his Hall of Fame grandfather would be the one to call to let Carl know that family history has been corrected.