By Brian Hanley
CHICAGO (CBS) — No tears here, not with the news that the Cubs-Sox series — or Sox-Cubs series for our South Side faithful — is getting a haircut starting next year.
Word out of Kansas City, this year’s home of Bud Selig’s semi-serious All-Star game, is that two games will get trimmed from our annual City Series most years.
Michael Weiner, head honcho of the players’ union, told members of the Baseball Writers Association of America Tuesday that “traditional rival” series, such as Cubs-Sox/Sox-Cubs likely will be reduced from six games to a pair of two-game series at alternating parks when the leagues are re-aligned next year and interleague games happen throughout the season.
There could still be six Cubs-White Sox games once every three years. Weiner said interleague play will rotate between divisions, with teams playing the five-team divisions in their opposite league every three years, and will comprise six series a year, the extra series being one with a so-called “traditional rival.”
In years that the two Central divisions play, the Cubs and Sox could play two three-game series, one at each park.
The fact that these games didn’t sell out this season, and the accompanying buzz was muted, should show fans have limited interest in a City Series. The Detroit Tigers, not the three games against the Sox, broke attendance records at Wrigley this summer.
Weiner said players wanted to address the competitive imbalance that exists in the current schedule.
“The fairness issue was the reason to move away from playing six games against certain opponents every year,” Weiner said. “The Mets, for instance, have had six games against the Yankees every season, while other teams in their division might play teams that aren’t as strong. We are moving off that.”
Weiner said the union has granted MLB an extension from the July 1 deadline for submitting a draft of the next season’s schedule, but believes the 2013 schedule will be finalized fairly soon. One feature he said nobody likes is that, with one interleague series in every “window” for games, one team will open the season using the DH/non-DH rule from the other league and another team will end it – potentially playing must-win games – with rules from the other league.
“Nobody wanted that,” Weiner said. “That’s not a plus of the system, but the overall impact of the changes, going 15-15 (in terms of teams in each league) outweighed that.”
The guess here is it’s only a matter of time — likely the next CBA negotiated after this deal gets done — that baseball will have a uniform DH rule, with the National League ceding to the American League and taking the bats away from their pitchers.
MEMO TO THEO
Jed, you can pay attention too.
Don’t let Ryan Dempster start another game for the Cubs.
There is no reason to leave Kansas City without a Dempster deal done. The veteran pitcher can’t appreciably improve his current stock, which includes a 1.99 ERA and a streak of 27 consecutive scoreless innings.
Sure, some teams will tell you they need to see another start or two, given Dempster’s recent stint on the disabled list due to lat tightness.
You simply say: “Dempster will be traded by Friday. Get your best bids in now.”
See Matt Garza’s recent rough outings if you have hesitation that this is the best course of action.
It will take a minimum of $101 for fans to buy a ticket for a regular-season Bears game this year, a team first for its “cheapest” seats.
Will fans have trouble getting over the mental hurdle of shelling out triple digits to sit in the upper reaches of Soldier Field?
The Eagles are still milking the cash cow since being the first music group to break through the C-note ceiling almost 20 years ago.
And, if the Bears are as good as advertised, scalpers should also have a banner year.
But beware Bears! The golden goose that is the NFL is shedding some feathers.
The league has lowered its blackout threshold for tickets sold in order to televise more games; as more fans choose their living room over their local heroes home to enjoy football each week.
DIRECTV just mailed me to say they have conveniently re-upped me for the Sunday Ticket at $299.94. Up to me to call and cancel if I don’t like the $75.01 discount I am receiving from last season’s price.
Don’t know if I am going to shell out three bills for the season TV package. Yet, I do know I am more likely to do so than spend a minimum of that amount to take a single friend to Soldier Field for a game to sit in crappy seats.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, during the time he was in the bidding to buy the Cubs, once told me he is proud to have always kept upper bowl tickets at his American Airlines Arena at “affordable” prices so most fans could choose to take in a game or more each season.
What is “affordable” is always arguable.
Football $101 may prove to be learning experience for all.