During the dog days of summer, many forget about the daily baseball games being played all throughout the nation. The 162 game regular seasons in the MLBlasts from March for spring training through October for the playoffs which can sometimes even stretch into early November. A solution for this marathon of a season is simple and other leagues are already leading the way.
The NBA and NHL have 82 game regular seasons and 16 teams make the playoffs every year. In the MLB, only 10 teams make the playoffs and two of those teams are eliminated after one game. After a 162 game regular season, being eliminated for losing one game is unfair. Also the MLB playoffs have to compete with the NFL every year and in the U.S. the NFL is going to win.
A solution for the MLB to regain all potential fan interest is to shorten the regular season to 100 games and go with an NBA style playoff. Eight teams from both the American league and National league should go into a seeded tournament style playoff where every series is the best of seven games.
At the rate of 100 games the regular season would end on July 23rd. On that day the American league playoff teams would be the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers, Orioles, White Sox, Athletics, Rays, and Blue Jays. The National league would have the Nationals, Reds, Giants, Pirates, Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks. All of the teams that are in the playoffs now and were in the playoffs previously are represented.
If the playoffs for the MLB started on July 24th and lasted a maximum of 40 days, it would bring the end of the playoffs to September 1st. This avoids all possible NFL conflicts for the MLB. Also the NBA finals end around late June so the MLB would be the only main sport going when it is at its most exciting time. Playoff positioning and teams trying to get into the playoffs and the playoffs in general would be happening when all other sports are in the offseason or preseason.
At a maximum, the amount of games players would play is 128. This would lead to less bodies breaking down at the end of a longer season and playing careers extended because of fresher arms every year. This format would lead to no discussions of shutting down pitchers to protect them, like the fiasco with Stephen Strasburg this year.
This next season the Cubs are following a 101 loss season, as a result season ticket prices are 2% lower and the average ticket price is 10% lower. Also during the rebuilding season the cubs had they drew less than 3million fans for the first time since 2003 according to Carrie Muskat an MLB.com writer. In general teams will make less money following a bad season, when team makes the playoffs it usually results in more ticket sales, merchandise sales, season ticket sales, and higher T.V ratings. If there is a higher chance of getting into the playoffs every season there is less of a chance a team will take a rebuilding season like the cubs did this year.
Take the Madison Square Garden this past season both the Knicks (NBA) and Rangers (NHL) made the playoffs and this resulted in an increase in everything according to Alex Sherman of the Boston Globe, “Madison Square Garden Co., the sports and entertainment company that owns the New York Knicks and Rangers, rose after increased playoff-ticket sales lifted its fiscal fourth-quarter profit. Net income more than tripled to $28.6 million, or 37 cents a share, from $8.53 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier, the company said. Sales jumped 42 percent to $332.9 million. Analysts had estimated earnings of 20 cents a share and revenue of $272.7 million. Sales from MSG’s sports unit increased 74 percent to $131.2 million on an increase in Knicks and Rangers playoff games. Shares of the New York-based company had already advanced 41 percent this year, bolstered by a new TV deal with Time Warner Cable.”
If the MLB wants to rebuild its popularity and become a super power sport it needs to concede defeat to the NFL and shuffle around the amount of games and timing of schedule to be alone among the four major sports in the U.S. (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL). Being alone among those four sports would catapult the MLB to the top of the ratings list like it should want.