If you want to get Mike Scioscia’s undivided attention, ask him what he thinks of the schedule. The Angels’ manager goes straight to the point without a hint of slowing down to find the right politically correct words.
“The schedule’s a joke,” Scioscia said before Tuesday night’s showdown with the Bronx Bombers at Angel Stadium. “You should be [playing] in your own division early in the season, the middle of the season and in September.
“For the sake of division rivalry, that should be the way it goes. The fact we’re swinging back East [for four games in New York and Boston [Sept. 14-17] and [the Yankees] are coming out West [for six games against the Mariners and Angels, Sept. 18-23] makes no sense.”
The Angels had a 10-day, 10-game trip through Baltimore, Cleveland and Toronto from Aug. 14-23.
Sept. 14 was an off-day on the schedule, but a rainout in New York in early May forced a postponement to that date. After a night game at Yankee Stadium, the troupe flew to Boston for three night games, with a game waiting in Texas on Friday.
Their day off on Thursday will the Angels’ second free day since Aug. 13 when they embarked on that East Coast junket.
Scioscia is careful not to give his players any openings to make excuses for unfocused performances. But he played the game long enough to know how draining 49 games in 51 days can be, which is why he is careful to give regulars occasional days “off their feet,” as he puts it.
Since Aug. 3, the Angels have had two days off: Aug. 13, when they traveled to Baltimore, and Sept. 3, when they traveled from Seattle to Kansas City.
There are members of the Yankees traveling party who would nod heartily in agreement with Scioscia’s assessment of the schedule.
The Bombers have made two trips to the West Coast since the All-Star break, starting with a seven-game journey through Seattle and Oakland Aug. 13-19.
The New York continent couldn’t help noticing that their big rivals, the Red Sox, were done with the Pacific Time Zone on May 17 when they wrapped up a three-game series in Seattle following three games in Anaheim against the Angels.
The Red Sox journeyed to Oakland and Anaheim April 10-15.
Boston traveled to Texas in July and August, one time zone away. The Sox have a three-game set in Kansas City, again one time zone away.
This might seem like a relatively minor issue, but anybody who has made the change from playing for an East Coast or Midwest team to a West Coast outfit can detail how draining coast-to-coast travel can be over the long course of a season.
“I had no idea how rough travel was out here,” Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. “In Minnesota, everything was two, three hours away. With this team, we’re flying six hours to the East Coast and always trying to adjust to time changes. It’s a big adjustment, believe me. Travel out here is much more difficult.”
Yankees diehards might be excused for arguing that Boston, staying in the East and Central time zones throughout the second half, was handed a scheduling advantage. They might use it to explain why the Sox appear fresh and are finishing strong – eight wins in the past 10 games – while the Yankees have endured a sluggish period, winning four of the past 10 since Sept. 11.
The Yankees have a day off on Thursday to get rested and revved for three big weekend games at home against the Red Sox.
As for the Angels, they finish with 10 games inside the division – including six, three home and three away, against an Oakland team that is loose and playing well, with wins in eight of the past 10.
At least, Scioscia would concede, the schedule-makers got that right.