Major League Baseball Should Adopt A New Schedule

Major League Baseball should adopt a new, balanced schedule. There is no reason why – with a 162-game season – fans should be forced to see their favourite team play the four other teams in their division, a total of 76 times.

It’s ridiculous, it’s redundant, and it needs to end.

As a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, do you think I was happy when I looked at the schedule the other day and saw that in the final month and a half of the season, the Blue Jays will play three series against BOTH the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles?

No! Paul was not happy.

And it’s not just because we’re the three worst teams in the American League East, with nothing to play for since May.

It’s because I’m tired of these teams. I don’t care to see them anymore. It’s like going the entire school year and all you’re allowed to play at recess is tag. It loses its lustre.

I’ve been watching almost every Blue Jays game since 1998. I’m scared to add up how many games that is, let alone the number of times I’ve had to watch the Rays and Orioles in the opposing dugout, never mind the Red Sox and Yankees. I’m tired of them, too.

Enough already!

As currently constituted, each team faces the other teams in their division, 19 times. And then they face the other 10 teams in their League, a total of 6 or 7 times.

Then, there’s interleague play. The divisions in the American League match up with a division in the National League, like it’s baseball’s version of a school dance, and they have a minimum of too slow dances home-and-home series.

And then there is some random wrinkle (I think), where an AL team plays against their NL “rival”, regardless of division.

It’s the “Dance with who didn’t bring you” provision.

All of this means that about 1/3 of the entire league, is a mere rumour for some fans.

I don’t get to see the San Diego Padres. I don’t get to see the Pittsburgh Pirates. I don’t get to see the St. Louis Cardinals. I don’t get to see the Miami Marlins.

Well, I mean, I do get to see them…once every three years, but still.

Major League Baseball is really missing the mark here, and they don’t even know it.

Commissioner, Rob Manfred, is so concerned that the best player in the game, Mike Trout, isn’t marketing himself enough?

Why don’t you introduce him to ALL of the other 29 baseball markets, instead of keeping him away from 9-10 of them?

If it weren’t for fantasy baseball, I would know very little about the players in the National League. Sure, we get random games on TV here in Canada, as well as Sunday Night Baseball and all that, but why should I care?

My team isn’t playing.

I watch Sunday Night Baseball and it feels like I’m watching a separate league from the one the Blue Jays play in.

I have to remind myself, “Yes, the Cubs and Cardinals play in the same league as the Blue Jays.”

Toronto doesn’t get put on Sunday Night Baseball. And the one time we were scheduled to appear, our opponent, the New York Yankees, complained they had a game the next day, so we go kicked back to the afternoon time slot.

Sometimes, it feels like the baseball world doesn’t know about Toronto. The proof was in the playoff series’ in 2015 and 2016.

Baseball analyst, Harold Reynolds, made a remark during one game where he claimed that Canadians didn’t grow up learning how to catch. This was his explanation as to why a fan didn’t catch a line drive foul ball, aimed directly at their face.

Okay, Harold.

We’ll never forget that one. Never.

Maybe if we got more exposure, you’d know more about us? Maybe if we played every team in the league, their fans would understand us and we’d understand them.

MLB will probably say the reason we play the most amount of games against teams in our division is because they are who we are fighting against for a playoff spot.

Well then why even bother with interleague play in the first place? You know how ridiculous it is asking American League pitchers to grab a bat and stand in the batter’s box?

Almost as ridiculous as having National League pitchers do it.

I don’t care for the baseball historians who insist on keeping the Designated Hitter out of the National League. It’s ridiculous.

Half the league plays a different game. I had to teach myself what a Double Switch was as a young boy playing video games.

Baseball can be so overcomplicated at times.

Every field in the league has different dimensions and quirks. In a way, it’s really cool and I like the personality of each stadium.

In another sense, I can’t help but think it’s completely unfair, especially when you talk about the “short porch” in right field at Yankee Stadium, or the left field wall that is so big they called it a ” GREEN MONSTER” at Fenway Park.

But no, that’s not a big deal. Pace of play is a big deal.

Quick research shows me that the average length of an MLB game this season is 3 Hours, 4 Minutes.

In 1994, it was 2 Hours, 57 Minutes.

In 1969, it was 2 Hours, 32 Minutes.

I mean, what are we talking about here? Half an hour?

You claim millennials can’t sit through a 3-hour game, but think they’ll sit through one that is a half hour shorter? Half an hour is the new 10 minutes. It means nothing. They’ll sit through 3 hours, just fine.

Millennials built up their stamina (and methods of time killing/self-preservation) in university, sitting through three hours lectures they had no interest in.

Side note: NFL games go for 3 hours and there’s only about 18 minutes of action. I’ve never heard them talk about shortening games.

The only games where pace of play is an issue, is when the Red Sox face the Yankees. But I think that’s okay. It’s part of the charm of that rivalry.

I sat through their playoff series in 2004, with a bowl of mint-chocolate chip ice cream, and enjoyed every second of it. The games were good, too.

Quick note on the ice cream: It was mint mixed with chocolate, and the chocolate chips were rectangular so they were smooth and easier to bite. I can’t find it in stores anywhere these days. Send it to me if you know where it is.

Maybe the reason games are going so long is because teams are playing the same opponents and batters have figured out the pitchers, which leads to more pitching changes, and long jogs in from the outfield.

Insert petition for bullpen carts in every stadium here.

I feel like that would happen when you face your division rivals 19 times.

Heck, it happened when I was a kid playing softball. I had a “book” on all the pitchers in the league because there were only four teams.

All of this complaining about how there are so many home runs, and how pitchers aren’t going deep into games. Did you ever think that their pitches just aren’t fooling anyone anymore because they’ve been over-exposed to the same batch of hitters?

If you show me a card trick 100 times, I’ll be showing you the card trick by the end of it.

Now that I’ve pointed out how the redundant schedule may negatively affect pace of play, as well as hinder the exposure and growth of baseball’s best players, here is my proposal for a new schedule.

To start, you need to scrap the divisions. I’ll let you keep your separate leagues. Heck, I’ll even let you keep your pitchers in the batting order.

What I want is this:

Every team in the American League will face the 14 other teams in the American League, a total of 6 times – 3 home, 3 away.

14 x 6 = 84

Then, each American League team will face all 15 National league teams, a total of 4 times = 2 home, 2 away.

15 x 4 = 60

National League teams will follow the same formula.

This means that each team will play 144 games. It’s a balanced schedule. Let every team in each league play the same opponents the same amount of times, and see who performs the best.

I’ll even let you add a few extra games, as you see fit, if you want to bring it to 150 games.

When I was a kid, I went to one baseball game each year, maybe two, sometimes three. I always got to choose the opponent. My dad always encouraged me to pick a team we hadn’t seen yet.

So, that’s what I did. I’m confident that I’ve seen every American League team in person, and a lot of National League teams.

I don’t think the powers that be in MLB realize that fans, oftentimes, pick the games they want to attend, based on the opponent. We can see our hometown team any time, but when a brand new team rolls into town, well that’s “Must see” in some people’s eyes.

Fans are drawn in by things that are fresh.

Hearing that the Blue Jays and Rays are facing each other is like telling me that pencils become dull if you don’t sharpen them. It’s a completely blank, boring statement, that doesn’t excite me in the least.

I’m sure the owners will freak out about 18 less games on the schedule.

However, a shorter schedule leaves more room for more playoff participants, which means more teams have the opportunity to jack up their prices for playoff tickets.

Owners are drooling at the possibility. And then the following year, they’re justified in raising single game ticket prices because “We went to the playoffs last year.”

Fans would be able to respect that because as things currently stand, you have up to 20 non-playoff teams raising ticket prices after poor seasons. Fans don’t appreciate that.

It’s not fun when half the league is out of playoff contention by the All-Star break. What incentive do fans have to support their team in August and September?

That’s a lot of missed revenue, don’t you think?

Expand the playoffs. Make the last few weeks of the regular season mean something to more than 3 teams.

I want to say, let 8 teams each league in the playoffs and have: 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6, and 4 v 5.

Make the first round a Best-of-3 (or a Best-of-5); the second round a Best-of-5; the third round and the World Series can each be a Best-of-7.

Who wouldn’t like that?

Sure, it gets rid of the suspense of a one game, do-or-die, wildcard matchup, but did that make any sense to begin with? You’re forcing teams to play 162 games, and then telling them their season comes down to 9 innings.

There needs to be a reason why you’re playing so many games, other than, “That’s just how many days there are from April – September”.

Major League Baseball really needs to rethink all of this because it’s all connected, in one way or another.

Make every team, and player, accessible to every fan in the 29 other markets. And I don’t mean, try to sell us a TV package, or show us out-of-town games.

Fly their team plane to our city every year and let us see them in person.

As things currently stand, some of baseball’s superstars are nothing more than an urban legend in some markets. They’re people we see on TV, or own in fantasy leagues, but are never actually in the same place, at the same time, as us.

Many baseball fans go to games early, stand in the first row, and hope for an autograph or photo. Send your superstars to every market and give your fans the chance to capture those moments.

Those are the moments that will stick with fans, no matter how long the game last.

It’s baseball.

Time doesn’t matter.

Memories do.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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20 Responses to Major League Baseball Should Adopt A New Schedule

  1. So I’m not exactly a sports person. If you would have talked to me 15 years ago I could have made a post like this about the OHL but in the last 10 years even that has disappeared. I’ve been to a grand total of 1 MLB game, it was the Blue Jays and it was last summer. BUT I think you should totally make a schedule up and tweet about it. You can’t be the only one who is frustrated by this and you seem to have a good grasp on what is happening and how it should be fixed! Make a PDF and tweet the baseball guys!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Haha in theory, that would be a great idea! That would take so long to coordinate between 30 teams lol. What if one stadium has a concert booked and I don’t know about it and schedule a baseball game instead? Actually, that would be a fun event. A concert during a baseball game….

      Like

  2. markbialczak says:

    Sorry, Paul, but I don’t care for your balanced schedule proposition. You might as well not have two different leagues if you adopt it. I prefer the rivalries within the division that stand now because of the greater exposure to those squads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I respect your opinion, Mark. From my perspective (as a Blue Jays fan), we don’t really have a natural rival within our division. The Red Sox and Yankees have each other and when we face them, we feel like the younger brother. And the Orioles and Rays 38 times a year just isn’t fun anymore.

      Like

  3. Becky Turner says:

    I feel like I should have co-sponsored this post because this is all things we’ve talked about before, including some all caps messages from me.

    I’m also SO tired of seeing the AL East ALL THE TIME but I think it’s a thing we can’t really change. Because in the end, your team is playing for the division and games against other teams in the division mean more than random teams. Like a game for the Sox against the Yanks means more in regards to the division and division lead than the Sox playing the Phillies (Hey, Gabe Kapler. Love you.), because that doesn’t mean much in the end except as a way to gain a lead in the standings, assuming the Yanks lose that day. But I would like to see more random teams.

    Remember when interleague play actually had one designated week in July because the amount of teams in each league was uneven? And then the Astros had to go and move leagues and now every day is interleague play. It seemed more exciting when it was a special week than just every day now. And the home and home series thing is annoying. Because the leagues are different. Like I’m to the point now where it’s make them the same. Either have pitchers hit or both adopt the DH. (I’m in favor of the DH.) That would end the whole home and home series thing.

    Thanks for stealing my Rob Manfred/Mike Trout thing. But let the kid just play baseball if he wants to. There are too many games during the season for players to go and market themselves and go to endorsements. Lebron has a lot of time in between games, and I don’t think the NBA has as many restrictions as the MLB does. As someone in marketing, I should have more to say about this, but at the moment I don’t. I’d like to do more research into this.

    I will continue to yell about the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium BUT YOU LEAVE THE GREEN MONSTA OUT OF THIS.

    Have you looked into the length of games played against a division team vs. some random team? Like look at a Jays/Red Sox game and like a Jays/ Mariner’s game and see if there’s a difference.

    DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE LENGTH OF NFL GAMES. That yelling post might come once football season starts.

    I don’t like the one game wild card game. Because it really doesn’t do anything. It’s one and one, and there’s really no point in watching it unless your team is playing in it. It’s just a way to get another two teams into the playoffs to make money. Half of the NBA teams make the playoffs and their post season is like TWO months long. And I’ve heard people complain that the ONE month MLB post season is too long.

    Also don’t get me started on the blackout thing. I think that’s the one thing that’s hurting the league. And the weird day games on Facebook. Like, excuse me, I’M AT WORK AND CAN’T WATCH A GAME ON FACEBOOK.

    /end rant./

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I get the point about division games meaning more, which is why I’d just scrap the divisions. If 3 teams win the division in each league, the other 12 are competing for 2 wild card spots, so shouldn’t those teams play each other more? That’s why I think every team should play the same schedule and see who performs the best.

      The Astros ruined everything! The NL game is so different from the AL game and rosters are built differently. I always feel the AL teams are at a disadvantage when playing in an NL park. They rely heavily on their DH and then all of a sudden it’s gone, and it becomes more of a small ball game (which screws the Blue Jays every time because no one on our team can bunt).

      Sorry, didn’t mean to steal the Mike Trout thing, just felt it needed to be mentioned!

      THE GREEN MONSTER TURNS FLY BALLS INTO DOUBLES. (I’m just jealous because the Rogers Centre is a perfectly symmetrical field and has no quirks to it.

      The MLB post season is too short, if anything! I’m also not sure how I feel about the fact that whoever wins the World Series, only has to win 11 playoff games. Doesn’t feel like enough after a 162 game season.

      Ugh the stupid day games on Facebook. Might as well put them on Instagram Live.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Becky Turner says:

        So basically the Hunger Games and we’ll see who makes it out on the other side. I’m sure that’ll go great with the MLBPA and the CBA.

        I can’t remember if the baseball class I took in college covered the origins of the DH but that’s something else I’d like to look into. It’s like the NL is still stuck in the past with the pitcher hitting, and the AL is a little ahead of the curve. But I do agree that the lineups are structured differently. The AL has more power.

        Yes, the Green Monster can pose some problems that some might not encounter in other parks, but at least we don’t have a roof that leaks.

        I’m okay with the length of the post season. I’m cool with the best of 5 and the two best of 7 series. How many more games would you want them to win after playing 162 games over six months? Those guys want to go golfing in the off season. Let them get there faster.

        The Facebook thing is in the ballpark of right ideas but maybe not the best platform. I’d be interested in knowing how many people actually watch the games. I get notifications sometimes saying there’s a game and I always feel like the Jays are playing those games…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Joke about our roof all you want but it’s still the best roof in the AL East!

        I think we only had two games on Facebook but we do seem like THAT team that gets all their games placed on a silly platform.

        Yes to the Hunger Games thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. randyjw says:

    Excellent post, Paul, and I agree with all of your ideas. I don’t know if it was just a Massachusetts, thing, but there also used to be a beer called Heffenreffer, nicknamed The Green Monster. Whoo, that was a mighty brew. And then, that green mint chocolate chip ice cream; maybe it was Breyers? It came in a rectangular carton. That was one of my favorite flaves, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Hmm I looked up Breyers, I don’t think that was it. But looking that up lead me to the Parlour brand which is the closest thing to what a remember. Maybe that was it. Thanks for your help!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. randyjw says:

    Hmmm… Now I’m curious which brand I used to eat! That’s gonna bug me….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ely says:

    Wow! This is the part where I tell yout that your passion for sports writing really does shine- there’s nothing you don’t know! You’re a sports guru! I like baseball- So this was an interesting read. I clearly don’t know THAT much and I don’t follow the sport anymore- but I understood you- at the very least. You have so much knowledge and so much input and such a SMART mind for the business of sports I’m not sure how you’re not some top notch sports manager for the MLB on some board of people who call the shots. Seriously. You should be calling shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kenslifesite says:

    Nope. I like the schedule the way it is. The purpose is to win your division. Would you really be happier seeing them play the Reds to end the year? The Nationals end in Colorado which I think is nuts. If you want to make the argument they should shorten the season, sure. I get that. But you have to play the teams in your division more often than others. Just that simple. Every sport does that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Maybe I overreacted when I wrote this post and was taking the wrong approach to finding a solution. I get your point. I’m just tired of seeing the same teams over and over again, especially once August rolls around, the Blue Jays are out of it, and I’m subjected to 9 more games against both the Orioles and Rays.

      Like

  8. As a fan of the NL’s Milwaukee Brewers, I prefer the game without the DH. If the AL teams don’t like it when they come to NL parks, tough. NL managers have to work a little harder at actually managing their lineup. As to the schedule, I’d prefer to expand interleague play from its current 20 games per team to 30. Scrap the “natural” regional rivalries. Nearly half the teams don’t have them anyway. After the Expos left Montreal, who do the Blue Jays have as a “natural” NL rival? They’re in the same situation as the Red Sox and Tigers and Astros and Rangers and Mariners in the AL, and 6 teams in the NL. Rotate through the divisions every year like the NFL does, without regard to geography. Play each interleague opponent 6 times, 3 home and 3 away. That guarantees your fans will see every team in the other league in your ballpark over a 3-year span. Play each team within your league (outside your division) 6 times. Do those two things and that leaves 72 games within your division, or 18 per team, 9 home and 9 away. But enough of the influential teams will oppose the plan. The Mets, for instance, will say, “Right now we’re guaranteed the Yankees coming in 7 times over 3 years. Every game is a sellout. Under your plan, I’d have to give up 4 of those games for games with teams like the Mariners and Rays. Why should we do that?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it! I think I have an American League bias, just because that’s what I’ve grown up watching. I think if I grew up with an NL team as my favourite team, I’d probably prefer all the intricacies that come with that league. As for natural rival, I think the Blue Jays are paired with Atlanta or Philadelphia, just because they faced each other in the World Series 25 years ago. Other than that, we’re waiting for Montreal to get a team back so we can have a real rivalry.

      Like

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