An Early Look at the Royals' 2009 Schedule

Concerned that the coverage and discussion of baseball hasn't been NFLicated enough? Well, I'm here to help.

Two Games I Bet the Royals Will Lose: The Royals play the Orioles at home on May 14th. Although the Royals seem to have lifted their weird inability to beat Baltimore -- The Curse of Amber Theoharris -- this could be a tough game for the Royals, despite the home field advantage. Why? The Royals will play in Oakland on the night of May 13th, and will have a long, late, flight back to KC to play the Birds. Then again, Baltimore will be flying in from Maryland the night before as well... Likewise, on August 27th, the Royals will take on the Mariners in Seattle (Battle for Grass Creek!) on the heels of a day-game in Cleveland on the 26th. Cleveland to Seattle is a long flight, and by my quick glance, it looks like the longest flight of the season for the boys in blue. The honorable mention tough game comes on June 5th, when the Royals play in Toronto after a day-game in Tampa the day before. (In truth however, the Royals get something of a minor benefit by being so centrally located, as they very rarely have any truly long flights.)

Two Potentially Difficult Series: The Royals play the Yankees and the Twins, on the road, to end the season. There's good odds that both teams will be playing for something at that point, and the Royals likely won't get the benefit of playing against September callups. Both teams will likely be desperate. Of course, this also means the Royals have a golden opportunity to play spoiler, especially to the Twins, who also play the Royals at home during the last homestand.

Easiest Month: Well of course, we all know this one: June, when the Royals get to play the National League. Better still, the Royals interleague slate looks especially weak this year, and in June the Royals will play the Reds, Cards, Astros, Pirates and D'Backs. The American League games in May don't look too murderous either, aside from a few battles with Cleveland.

Longest Home-Stand: For good measure, all those interleague games in June also coincides with the longest homestand of the season, a nine-gamer from June 12-21. (Although there's a second nine-gamer in late August.)

Second Easiest Month: The Royals have a great opportunity to be over .500 by the end of June, because their May schedule is also very favorable. The Royals play a season-high seventeen games at the K in May, against just eleven road games. If you extend it further, with April looking reasonable (this is classic NLFication, since we don't actually know how good half the divisional opponents are going to be) the Royals legitimately could be little better than last season, and something like 10 games over .500 at the end of June.

Hardest Month: September looks to be pretty rough: no NL teams, seven games against the Red Yankees, four with the Angels, and three against the Tribe & Twins.Get ready for a story about how the Royals "ran out of steam" or "didn't know how to finish a season yet" in early October.

Longest Road-trip: The Royals don't really have any terribly long roadies. There's one nine-gamer in August where the Royals take on the Twins, Tigers and ChiSox. Yes, its August, but its also three easy flights and three so-so (in aggregate) teams. A slightly tougher nine-gamer comes in early June, which is a Tampa to Toronto to Cleveland haul, the team's really only tough stretch of games in May & June.

Intercine Battle in the Midwest: The Royals play 72 games against their AL Central foes, a full 44% of their schedule. It won't play out like this on the field, because individual team v team results are pretty random, but in true NFLication spirit, lets look at it this way: We have no idea really about how the Central will play out, considering how hard to predict everyone looks. The most likely scenario is that, like last season, two of these four opponents will go bad, and two will have good seasons. If that happens, the Royals will have a reasonable schedule. However, if it breaks one way or the other -- with three playing well or three playing poorly -- then the tenor of the Royals' slate could significantly change. Think about the Tigers, for example, we really have no idea what all those games against Detroit (18) will mean yet.

Quirks: The Royals play two four-game series against Boston, which is fairly weird considering that the four-game series is a thing of the past. It isn't ideal to match up against a team who has great offensive and pitchig depth over four games... The Royals play the Mariners five times at home, four times on the road. The Royals only play the Rangers six times, while drawing the Angels ten times. The Royals play an equal number of weekend series at home as on the road, which is of course not a quirk.

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