Via Ed Price -
The Yankees’ April schedule is “terrible,” as general manager Brian Cashman said yesterday, and it will affect the roster decisions they make in spring training.
After an eight-day, seven-game homestand, the Yankees spend 19 of the next 21 days on the road — the only exception a two-game series against the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees are scheduled to play 18 road games in April, which would be a franchise record.
Traditionally, teams get extra off days in April. But this year the Yankees have a stretch of 19 consecutive days with a game, April 2-20.
“It’s pretty stupid,” Johnny Damon said. “Every year it doesn’t make sense. We come home for two days. It’s brutal. We’re gone for seven, come home for two, gone for 10. Why even come home?”
There are a two main reasons for the brutality:
The Pope. The original schedule had a more balanced April. But after it was completed, Pope Benedict scheduled an April 20 mass at Yankee Stadium. So some Yankees home games were flipped to accommodate the event and its preparation.
An unusually early start to the season. The Basic Agreement allows teams no more than 10 off days before the All-Star break. But the All-Star break this year is in the 16th week of the season instead of the usual 15th. So some games were moved to the first half of the season, and many teams have only two off days in April.
Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina said the worst aspect of the April schedule is six night “getaway” games, series-ending games after which the team flies to another city. So they will arrive in the wee hours in Boston on April 11 (from Kansas City), in Tampa Bay on April 14 (from Boston) home from Tampa Bay on April 16 and home from Cleveland on April 29.
Manager Joe Girardi said he can’t remember being on a team that played 19 straight days in April. The Yankees will have to be ready to go.
Back on January 21st, it was noted in this blog that:
In March/April, the Yankees only play 11 home games – compared to 18 on the road. And, in those 18 road games, they have to go to Boston, Chicago, and Cleveland (among other stops). New York better be more ready to play well, out of the gate, this season – compared to last year.
March/April has been a bad scene for the Yankees over the last four years. They went 9-14 in 2007, 13-10 in 2006, 10-14 in 2005, and 12-11 in 2004. (In 2003, they went 21-6 in April – but, then they went 11-17 in May.)
Really, the last time the Yankees had an awesome first two months of the season was 2002 when they went 17-10 in April and 19-9 in May.
Because of the schedule to start this season, perhaps it makes sense for Yankees fans to level-set their expectations of the Yankees’ start to this season and just be happy to see the team playing .500-ball come May 1st?