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.
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.
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.
Time doesn’t matter.