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MLB’s 2023 Schedule Change: The Culprit Behind the Yankees’ Misery, Robbing Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo of an Injury-Free Season

Published 11/14/2023, 7:10 AM EST

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If familiarity breeds contempt, then unfamiliarity breeds injuries. Injuries are a part and parcel of the game, but when they are avoidable, they should be. This year, at least a few were, if not for the MLB. Updates to the game and schedules are often made with the intention of making the game more interesting, and that must have been on the MLB’s mind when they decided to change the schedule.

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As opposed to previous seasons, when teams only played against their division and league rivals, in the recently concluded 2023 season, every team was slated to compete against each other. While the decision was made with a view to increasing competition across the aisle and having interesting matchups, it also had a side effect, especially for the likes of the New York Yankees.

Yankees’ injury woes and the common factor


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The New York Yankees have had a forgettable 2023 season. An array of issues marred their campaign, but what stood out was their struggles with injuries, and that too for their key players. Captain Aaron Judge and veteran Anthony Rizzo suffered injuries that derailed their season’s prospects. Both injuries were unfortunate, but can be attributed to the recent schedule change.

The common factor behind them was their unfamiliarity with the stadiums where they occurred. Judge’s injury occurred at the Dodger Stadium, where he injured his toe near the bullpen fence on a concrete step he didn’t know about. Meanwhile, Rizzo incurred the concussion in a collision with Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego. Both are venues where the Yankees rarely play.


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Without these schedule changes, it’s likely that these injuries might have been avoided, allowing both players to continue their participation in the games.

Judge’s toe injury was a blow to Yankees’ hopes

Aaron Judge might as well be the lifeblood of the Yankees, and this time around, the 31-year-old was having a dream season. He averaged  .291 in 49 games, with 19 homers to his name. Judge looked in touch, and his prospects for the season seemed bright before the sudden break. While attempting an amazing catch, the 6’7″ right fielder ran into the outfield fence and, in the process, suffered a torn ligament owing to the concrete steps.

In the aftermath of the injury, Judge said, “The injury takes a year or two years or three years (to fully heal), and I still think you feel that. You never know what it’s going to feel like. I can’t see the future.” He also responded to the question of going under the knife with “There’s talk of surgery, but I don’t think we’re at that [point]. I’m not a doctor. I have no idea. They throw around eight different things.” While the injury caused a gasp amongst the crowd, All Rise had to sit out for over 50 games from June 3 to the end of July, resulting in a huge vacuum for the Bronx Bombers. But that was just the start.

The injury to Rizzo was no less detrimental

If Judge’s injury wasn’t enough of a loss for the Pinstripes, Anthony Rizzo was soon to join the list. It was May 28, as the Yankees were up against the San Diego Padres, when, in an attempt to field Anthony Rizzo’s head, he collided with a running Fernando Tatis Jr.’s hip. The collision looked nasty, and it certainly was. Owing to the impact, Rizzo stumbled and went down on his knee in agonizing pain. Soon after, he was surrounded by pretty much the entire Yankees squad and the medical team. Much like Judge, Rizzo seemed to be in prime touch as well, averaging .284 over 84 games in 2023.

After the match, reports came out that the 34-year-old had suffered a concussion. On seeing the pain Rizzo was under, teammate Gerrit Cole said, “Yeah, I mean, you just don’t want him to get hurt. He’s like the toughest guy ever. He’s gotten drilled like 200 times. So initially, when he goes down, you know he’s probably in quite a bit of pain.” However, that certainly did not help the Yankees because Rizzo, after returning briefly, had to sit out the rest of the season with post-concussion syndrome.


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Does the MLB bear responsibility for player injuries?

The aim of the schedule alteration might have been positive, but the results have only been mixed. It is not just about one team or two players, as it could have been possible with any team or any player, but this time the Yankees have had a lack of luck. Even though it would be an overreach to suggest that Judge and Rizzo would not have been injured if MLB hadn’t changed their schedule. However, it is certain that unfamiliar earlier environments, such as the hazardous concrete step at Dodger Stadium, were the primary cause.


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Even though it seems like this schedule will continue for the 2024 season, it has raised concerns amongst experts and fans alike. It’ll be interesting to see if the MLB carries on with the change in the years to come or is forced to go back to how it was.

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Paaritosh Dutt is an author for Major League Baseball at EssentiallySports. He had always been intrigued by American culture, particularly its television shows. As the years went by, his interest in American culture only grew, and he began to follow American sports more closely.
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Edited by:

Deepanshi Bajaj