While packing my suitcase last night, I was watching a terrific documentary from 1988 called “U2: Rattle & Hum” which features a slew of live performances including a fantastic one of (my favorite U2 song) “Pride (In The Name of Love).” In a sort of weird coincidence, that song delves into the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., which happened 42 years ago today.
Anyway, I mention this because I’m riding Amtrak up to Boston now and going through some reader emails, many of which include questions (or criticisms) about the MLB schedule. Some people, it seems, are curious why the Yankees are a) playing the Red Sox on Opening Day; and b) also ending the season against Boston, while not playing them at all for a few months in the middle of the summer.
Unfortunately, the story I did on the MLB schedule for our baseball preview section seems to have not made the web, but gist of it is that a ton of factors go into which teams play where and when, and this year a massive tour by U2 was one of the biggest factors in scheduling. According to Katy Feeney, the VP in charge of scheduling for MLB, most stadium concerts require a set-up and break-down of just a few days; the U2 tour this summer requires a (kind of ridiculous) 10-day window around each date. “And each place they play affects so many more teams than you might realize,” Feeney said. “It’s a huge trickle-down.”
One of the tour stops is in Toronto, meaning that all AL East teams were affected even more. Add in football conflicts in Baltimore, Boston Marathon conflicts in Beantown and the fact that the Yankees usually are home in early September (since the Mets are on the road during the tennis U.S. Open) and the scheduling becomes a lot harder than you might think. “In general, we try to open and close within the division,” Feeney said, “and that means sometimes the Yankees are going to play the Red Sox.”
Also, for those who are wondering, the league does NOT set specific game-times; that’s up to the respective teams (though ESPN and the networks does have some say on nights they have rights). So, if you’re upset about the Yankees and Red Sox not playing any day games during the opening series, you can (mostly) blame the Sox. For everything else having to do with the schedule, just blame Bono and the Edge.
Despite the flooding in Rhode Island that has caused trains to take a longer route up to Boston, I’ve already seen more than a couple of Yankees fans on my train headed up to the Hub. It’s a beautiful day and should be a great night for baseball, so be sure to check back early and often this afternoon for updates from both Chad and me.