As a guy who spent most of his career in the National League, David Ross didn’t play a game in Kansas City until September 2014 — the end of his 13th big-league season.
Scheduling quirks like that have been common through the years, even in the era of interleague play that began 25 years ago. The Cubs have played only one American League division each season.
That will all change next season when MLB will adopt a revamped scheduling format. Teams will play at least one series against all 29 other clubs for the first time in league history.
“I think it's exciting,” Ross said. “New cities, getting outside your division more. Playing the same teams over and over again, it's fine, but it's just more exciting to play new teams and travel around.
“Going to Minnesota, Houston consistently, I think that's super exciting and fun.”
Next season will mark the Cubs’ first trip to Minnesota since 2015 — excluding the 60-game COVID-19 season when MLB regionalized schedules.
They’ll also visit the Astros (first time since 2019), the A’s (2016) and Angels (2016).
No, the Cubs won’t be in those cities every year under the new format. But they will much more frequently, which is good for fans and players alike. How often have Cubs fans seen Mike Trout or Aaron Judge play at Wrigley Field?
Playing in all these ballparks is also a great draw for the guys suiting up.
“In my experience to be a Major League Baseball player and not get to experience Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Dodger Stadium, Seattle — the traveling around and playing every team I think is fun,” Ross said.
“You want to check all those off. If you get to play for a long time now guys will be able to do that a little bit faster maybe.”
There are also competitive implications for the new schedule. Teams will play 52 divisional games, down from 76.
While it’s impossible to truly balance all 30 teams’ schedules equally, the new format at least tips the scales more in that direction during this era of expanded playoffs.
It figures to benefit teams in loaded divisions who face a gauntlet schedule (see: AL East).
"Playing everybody feels fairer," Ross said. "I just feel like if everybody has to play each other at least once and not so many teams in-division, if you have a weaker division, then that benefits some of those teams at the top.
“I think the goal is to get in the playoffs the best teams that are in the game. It's really hard to be really good. Playing everybody just makes it feel fair."
So, where is Ross looking forward to going most next season?
"The Minnesota one stands out to me, just because I like that city," he said. "It's in May. I've usually just been there in the summer so it may still be a little cold there."