Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports doesn’t think that the wildcard race is very fair. He cites the unbalanced schedule as the basis for his reasoning behind this mindset.
Think of it this way: The league’s worst and fourth-worst teams, the Astros and Seattle Mariners, play in the AL West. The second- and third-worst clubs, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, play in the AL Central.
So, the unbalanced schedule allows the Indians and Royals to play nearly one-fourth of their games against two of the three worst teams in the AL, and the Rangers to play nearly one-fourth against the worst and fourth-worst clubs
He does make the point that he doesn’t want to take anything away from the teams that are doing their jobs and beating the teams in front of them. He just wants us to acknowledge the system for what it is, flawed.
Again, I’m not trying to diminish any team’s achievements, the Indians’ in particular. Indeed, our emphasis on strength of schedule in September often is overstated. “Spoilers” relish their trouble-free existence. Contenders deal with far greater pressure, particularly when – like the Indians – they are competing in a pennant race for the first time in years
I like Ken and I understand what he is trying to say here, but I don’t agree with him. Obviously some teams are going to play in divisions that are easier than others and that can assist some teams to get to the playoffs, but even if every team played all other teams the exact same amount of times, that wouldn’t make everything perfectly fair. Ignore the fact of the logistical nightmare that a “perfect schedule” presents for a moment and recognize that no other major U.S. sport does this. If there were a bigger push for this, critics would point out that the time of year that you played teams would matter as well. For instance, would you have to go to New York in the summer or the fall, when it was hotter, or colder? Teams have always complained about perceived advantages that other teams get. Solving one problem would just create more problems and fans would still find something that wasn’t “fair” for their team.