Major League Baseball released its 2013 schedule earlier this week, showing off a few tweaks necessitated by Houston's move to the American League. When you get into the nitty gritty of how the schedule breaks down, it's interesting to compare various sports leagues. Here is a look at how MLB (starting in 2013) as well as the NFL, NBA and NHL divvy things up:
MLB: The tweaks to the 162-game schedule were subtle, but still noticeable. The Twins, for example, will jump from 72 to 76 division games next year. They'll also go from 18 to 20 interleague games. And they go from 72 to 66 games against non-division AL foes. So the breakdown now: nearly half their games (almost 47 percent) are against AL Central teams. About 12 percent are interleague; and the other 41 percent are against AL teams not in their division.
NHL: Hockey, with an 82-game schedule, is the most similar to MLB in terms of relatively few games against foes from opposite conferences. But MLB still has a much higher percentage of division games. The NHL breakdown: 24 division games (29 percent); 18 games against teams from the other conference (22 percent); and 40 games against non-division conference opponents (49 percent).
NBA: Basketball, also with 82 games, has a different philosophy. The Wolves are slated to play 16 division games (just under 20 percent), 30 games against teams from the Eastern Conference (just under 37 percent) and 36 against non-division Western Conference opponents (about 44 percent).
NFL: With just 16 games, the NFL schedule is a big deal. It breaks down like this: six games (37.5 percent) against division foes; four games (25 percent) against non-conference teams; and six games (37.5 percent) against non-division conference teams.
Overall thoughts: Even with the increased interleague games, MLB is still far below any of the other three leagues when it comes to crossover games. The NBA has three times as many by percentage. But MLB loads up on division games like no other league. The NHL, once you break it down, seems to have a rather high number of games between non-division conference teams at close to 50 percent. And the NFL seems to have the most balance, with at least 25 percent in all three categories, unlike any of the other leagues.