The A’s got a look at the 2016 schedule a while back, and they were concerned enough to lobby MLB in an attempt to make the travel a little easier. They being the A’s, of course, their concerns fell on deaf ears. Now you may be thinking, These guys fly chartered jets and stay in five star hotels, what are they complaining about? True, big time pro athletes travel quite well. The media and fans that follow them don’t. It’s still a grind, and in 2016 the grind is palpably worse than it has been in recent memory.
What stands out for 2016 compared to previous years is the number of lengthy road trips and homestands. In baseball, fans are used to the idea of the team being home for a week, then leaving for a week, cycle repeating for six months. For the A’s scheduling is a bit extreme, with three homestands of 9 games or longer and a separate stretch consisting of 13 of 16 dates at home.
On the road the A’s scheduling woes are marked by a particularly horrific final two weeks in August, in which they go on the road to Arlington and Chicago, come home for a short series with Seattle, then go back out to the Central time zone to face St. Louis and Houston. Worse, the Texas and Houston series aren’t coupled, which would allow for short trips between the cities (made popular by the NBA’s Texas Triangle of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio). Instead the team will have to go on six separate trips to the state of Texas, none earlier than June. All three trips to visit the Rangers will occur after the All Star break, when the ballpark will be at its least hospitable.
The AL West is slated to play the NL Central this year, with the A’s at home vs. the Cubs and Pirates, on the road vs. the Reds and Cardinals, plus a 2+2 home-and-home set against the Brewers. Another 2+2 is scheduled against the Giants, ending for now the separate 3-game sets against the cross-bay rivals.
Last time the A’s played the NL Central in 2013 the schedule makers were much kinder to the A’s. One of the road trips had the A’s knocking out series against the Rangers and Astros in one week. Another involving interleague play had the A’s in Milwaukee before busing it down to Chicago. I took in part of that trip, watching a four game A’s-White Sox series on the South Side while also catching a game at Wrigley, plus a game at Miller Park. Nothing like that is available for fans in 2016. Arguably the best trip features Toronto and Detroit early in the season, and only because the two cities are about five hours apart. The more doable, stress-free trip involves the A’s visiting Baltimore and Boston in the same week (May 6-11). That’s easily covered by Amtrak, with the option of stopping in Philadelphia and New York along the way. The O’s are going to make some changes to Camden Yards in the offseason, so even if you’ve been to OPaCY in the past, it may be worth another visit next spring.
Speaking of spring, the A’s also released their home schedule at Hohokam for 2016. It was a nice surprise. For Bay Area A’s fans the schedule is much more flexible than the regular season ordeal. There are home games scheduled at Hohokam every weekend. The second weekend looks especially good, as it includes a home date vs. the Cubs on Sunday with a road game on Saturday.
As usual, I’ll compile the complete MLB schedule and work out a full travel grid for the ballpark junkies out there. Look for that towards the end of the week.