Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 9/13/13

We hear a lot about “East Coast Bias” in the media. But there’s another East Coast Bias at play in Major League Baseball -- scheduling and travel. The West Coast teams -- particularly Seattle -- get a raw deal when it comes to travel during the season. Whether it’s multiple trips to the East Coast (five or six in some cases) or cross-country travel without an off-day, the West Coast is not the Best Coast for baseball travel. The East Coast accounts for nearly half of the United States population. Even with expansion to the South and West, 14 of the 30 MLB teams play in the Eastern time zone, seven more play in the Central Time Zone and only seven play in the Pacific time zone. With the release of Major League Baseball’s 2014 schedule this past week, I took a look at some of the travel disparities affecting the West Coast teams. And as we so often say in this business, the numbers don’t lie. I calculated 2014 travel distances for the six West Coast teams -- Mariners, A’s, Angels, Padres, Giants and Dodgers. For comparison, I compiled travel distances for the Astros (a centrally located team in a west division), Pirates (centrally located and in the Eastern Time Zone), and the Yankees (I needed a prototypical East Coast team). Taking a look at the chart, you don’t need to be a math whiz to see that the 2014 Mariners, A’s and Angels will travel at least twice as many miles as the Pirates. A few points should be noted:  It’s a given that creating a schedule that makes everybody and every team happy is impossible. Travel concerns represent just one of the many issues with the MLB schedule (Grantland’s Jonah Keri recently discussed potential solutions). With an unbalanced schedule and interleague every day plus a league more heavily weighted with teams east of the Rockies (both the team and its namesake mountains), travel will always be a problem for the West Coast teams. Centrally located teams have an obvious advantage over both the West and East teams for obvious reasons, but the disparity between the West and the rest of the league is jarring. ESPN’s Jim Caple recently wrote about this issue in connection with 2013 travel and articulated many of the same points. But we’re seeing more absurdity in the 2014 schedule. Team Total Miles Avg/month Longest flight Highest month Flights 1900+ miles Mariners 52,510 8751.67 2732 (MIA=>SEA) June (10,921) 9 A’s 46,761 7793.5 2688 (BOS=>OAK) May (10,691) 8 Angels 45,966 7,661 2688 (BOS=>OAK) June (9,255) 9 Padres 41,558 6926.33 2437 (WAS=>SF) May (10,200) 7 Giants 41,044 6,840.66 2591 (SF=> MIA) August (10,137) 8 Astros 39,441 6573.5 1891 (SEA=>HOU) April (6,938) 0 Dodgers 37,528 6,254.67 2448 (LA=>NY) May (10,012) 7 (excluding Australia) Yankees 29,229 4,871.5 2,560 (OAK=>NY) May (6751) 2 Pirates 23,813 3,968.8 2115 (SD=>PIT) June (6543) 2 Here are some of our favorite scheduling horror stories coming to MLB in 2014: Seattle Mariners: Six trips to Eastern time zone; Five trips to Texas; 52,510 Miles The M’s make six separate East Coast trips in 2014. Yes, Seattle is far away from the rest of the teams but does baseball really need to send them on two separate trips to the Eastern time zone in the first four weeks of the season? It should be noted that in addition to usual road trips to visit the AL East, the AL West is matched up against the NL East in 2014 interleague, so that adds more mileage to the itinerary. The Mariners travel to Miami in April, return home for a series and then head back out to New York 10 days later. The highlight of this road trip nightmare is the M’s leaving Miami on a Sunday and hosting the Astros the next night in Seattle. That’s the farthest possible trip in Major League Baseball (2,732 miles) -- and there is no travel day. (Note: the collective bargaining agreement contains off day protections in connection with travel from the Pacific to the Eastern time zones but none for east to west travel.) Think Seattle might be spared excessive travel in the last two weeks of the season? Of course not! Make it six East Coast trips! Send them to Toronto for four games and then have them back at Safeco for the final three against the Angels with no travel day. Because Mariners at Blue Jays in the final week definitely needs to happen. Oakland A’s: Four trips to Eastern time zone; Four Texas trips; 46,761 miles The A’s will be logging lots of miles but don’t have quite as many absurd trips planned as Seattle. The A’s big East Coast swing (the team’s second trip east of the season) comes in May with trips to Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Toronto before heading home without an off day. Toronto-Oakland is a 2,258 mile trip, which is in the top 10 MLB distances. Less than 10 days later on June 3, the A’s head back east to New York and Baltimore before heading back to California for a series at Anaheim without a travel day. Los Angeles Angels: Five trips to Eastern time zone; six trips to Texas; 45,966 miles The Angels have a major East Coast swing at Tigers, at Nats and at Yankees in April. At least it’s all in one trip! But then again, that’s another West Coast/warm weather team visiting non-roof cold weather ballparks in April. So...yeah. In late July/early August, the Angels will make a fourth trip East to Baltimore and Tampa Bay. From Tampa, the Angels head back to LA for a Freeway Series date with the Dodgers without an off day (Tampa to Los Angeles is 2,152 miles). But my favorite of all the Angels trips is this doozy in September: the Halos will visit the Astros, Twins and Rangers in that order. That’s right, they go to Houston then go up to Minnesota and then back down to Texas for a series against the Rangers. Do better, schedulers. San Diego Padres: Six trips to Eastern time zone; 41,558 miles The Padres are the Mariners of the National League (note that San Diego and Seattle are considered one another’s “natural rivals” and thus have to play a home and away series separated by 1000+ miles, so that actually makes sense). The Friars have two East Coast trips in the first month of the season -- to Miami and Cleveland, then to Milwaukee and Washington in April 2014. Really? Why are warm weather teams visiting cold weather cities so early in the season, especially for interleague series? Yes, I know Milwaukee has a roof, but Cleveland makes zero sense. You heard it here first: at least one of those games will be rained out and they’ll have to find some off day to make it up which will cause even more travel ridiculousness. In August, the Padres make their sixth East Coast trip to Minneapolis and Pittsburgh before heading back to Petco without a travel day to host the Rockies for exactly three games before heading BACK to St. Louis on August 14 without a travel day. That is not right. At least in September the Padres get to stay close to home -- the furthest east they travel is Colorado. San Francisco Giants: Six trips to Eastern time zone: 41,044 miles The Giants don’t travel east of Rockies in April, so they’re already winning. Payback for an easy April travel month comes in August when the Giants head east for series with the Mets, Brewers and Royals, return home for five games and then head back east again for the Cubs and Nationals. That’s 10,137 miles in one month. Houston Astros: Six trips to Eastern time zone; Five trips to California; 39,441 miles The Astros will log more miles than the Dodgers despite having only one flight of more than 1800 miles. That’s because they have to travel to the West Coast five times thanks to moving to the AL West in 2013. The Astros have a whopping 22 flights over 1000 miles, which adds up. The team also makes six separate trips to the Eastern time zone including this doozy in August: a three-game series at the Phillies followed by a five-game homestand followed by a road trip to Boston, New York and Cleveland. The Astros also end the season with a three-game interleague series at the New York Mets. Yes, really. Los Angeles Dodgers: Six trips to Eastern time zone; 37,528 miles For purposes of this calculation, we excluded the Dodgers’ season-opening series in Australia, which would have added 15,000 miles to the team’s season travel totals and skewed the results (Australia or Japan are aberrations and at least MLB has teams from the west making the trip). The Dodgers will make six separate trips to the Eastern time zone, have seven flights of 1900+ miles and have one month (May) with over 10,000 miles and yet will travel the fewest miles of any of the West Coast teams. The Dodgers benefit from a truly local interleague rival (Angels) which requires minimal travel and the NL West is paired with the AL Central for interleague. The team’s East Coast swings are fairly well scheduled except for an August trip in which the Dodgers head to Milwaukee and Atlanta before heading back west (1,935 miles) to host the Brewers without an off day. Remember when the Dodgers and Braves were both in the NL West? Good times, good times. Finally, East Coast teams aren’t immune to the nightmare road trip bug. Here are a few 2014 trips that stood out: -Red Sox: Boston to Oakland (2687 miles, without an off day); Seattle to New York (2,405 miles, with an off day, per CBA requirements). -Blue Jays: Toronto to Oakland (2,258 miles, without an off day); Toronto to Seattle (2,068 miles, without an off day) -Rays: Tampa to Seattle (2,529 miles, without an off day); Tampa to Oakland (2,391 miles, without an off day) -Marlins: Miami to San Diego (2,268 miles, without an off day) -Yankees: Anaheim for three games (2,437 miles without an off day), then back east to Milwaukee (1,734 miles) and then returning to NY. [follow]

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