Michael Friere - Does Baseball Need A New Schedule?


After reading Tom's piece on Inter-league play, I started thinking about the schedule in general and how LONG the baseball season actually is.  As of this moment, teams play a 162 game schedule (slog) that starts towards the end of March and lasts well into October!  That's not even considering the fact that the playoffs (with the addition of the Wild Cards) now stretch into November for the remaining two teams that battle for a championship.

That's well over seven months for the regular season and the playoffs.

Oh and then you need to consider Spring Training and the thirty or so additional games that are added to the calendar as a result.  So, from the start of Spring Training (around Valentine's Day) to the end of the World Series, you have close to nine months!   That is much longer then any of the other professional sports, by quite a margin.

I understand that the root cause of this insanity is money.....the more events you have, the more ticket sales and advertising dollars are available for everyone.  Just because it may be profitable, doesn't mean that it is the right thing to do for the game and the players' well being.

So, play along with me for just a few minutes and consider the following "alternate schedule".

1.  Shorten Spring Training already!  A 10 or 15 game slate is more then enough time to get everyone in game shape and ready to go.  With modern training regimens, players are (mostly) coming to camp in shape anyway.  

2.  Additionally, you can get rid of the "inter-league games" as far as I am concerned.  The novelty has worn off and the schedule is inequitable at best, due to the way it is administered with "regional rivalries", etc.

3.  With an odd number of teams in each league (currently 15 per side), you would have some scheduling quirks to deal with that would require "byes" built into the schedule.  But, when is the last time extra rest was a bad thing?

4.  Oh and to really shake things up, I would also get rid of the divisions and put all of the teams into one big scrum.  Your playoff teams are the top four teams (by overall record) in each league, which would shorten the playoff schedule by one round.

Using the "one division" format, you have fourteen opponents in your league so you would schedule ten games against each one throughout the season (two-three game sets and two - two game sets, both home and away), which would be a balanced
schedule with everyone playing the same teams the same number of times by season's end.  This format would result in a 140 game regular season schedule that would shave a good month or more off the listed time line.

Don't forget to add that savings to a shorter Spring Training schedule and a shorter playoff schedule.  All of these changes would result in the season ending in early October, with much more rest for the players and likely a better product on the

The biggest negative that I can see is that a lot of your "counting statistics" and their corresponding records would be out of reach.  However, don't forget that the season used to be shorter then it is, earlier in baseball's history.

What do you think?    

Too radical?


Reese Kaplan said...

I would advocate going back to the 154 type of schedule, though with 14 opponents it would be an even 11 games against each rival. I think the divisional play contributes to the playoff rounds and helps cut some travel costs (with the current unbalanced schedule).

As long as we're blue-skying it, I would add one team to each league bringing the total to 16. Then create 4 four-team divisions with one winner of each division advancing to the full playooff round, not a wildcard.

With 15 opponents you could still cut the regular season down to 150 games, 10 against each of your 15 opponents. Then you would have a full 7 game playoff at the division level, a 7 game playoff for the league championship and a 7 game World Series. The extra revenue made in the post season should go into a pool with a minority share going to the non-playoff teams and the majority going to the ones actually participating. That helps defray any lost revenue.

Thomas Brennan said...

Shorter is better - I agree. Like the following:

In 1969, opening day was Apr 8. The Mets won the World Series Oct 15.

Now it is at least 3 weeks longer - too long - and major strain on pitchers like, say, a 2015 Matt Harvey.

I like Mike's idea of a shorter spring training - pitchers can do more pre-spring training throwing as needed, and let's say a team can carry up to 15 pitchers, and 27 total players, for the first two weeks of the season to protect arms from not being fully geared up.

Also can do some day-night doubleheaders, so as to not lose the gate with a single pay DH.

I remember seasons where the Mets played almost 2 dozen doubleheaders - a ridiculously high number - but pre-scheduling 6-8 double-admission doubleheaders, with a few more added as needed due to weather rescheduling - would shorten the season a week. Of course, any doubleheaders would reduce concession sales somewhat, and parking revenue, but how many fans go to night game on April 2, anyway?

I like Reese's idea of two more teams and a realignment...poor hitters struggle for jobs - used to be 15 hitters per team in the 1960's - now 13 - that's a lot of jobs lost.

I'd also like a DH - if we had one, we could call up Pete Alonso tonite!

Mack Ade said...

I like the 154-game format without inter-league play as well

Mike Freire said...

I like the idea of expansion, too......interesting topic, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Topic of Realignment...

Is big today after the last two games.

Scary deGrom injury. Lucky it isn't a pitching injury to his arm, again.

Was talking to a buddy today on Mets rotation. We begrudgingly admitted that what "may be seeing but each hoping we are not" is the end of the "Super Fab Five." Man, I just hate to admit this though.

I look down at Vegas, Bing, and beyond and wonder where will the next great five come from? Time will tell, I guess. But you have to admit, that it was a nice ride we fans had. All good things come to an ending. But dreams sometimes never die.

Mack's Mets © 2012