Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MLB's Pursuit of Mr. November

With the World Series commencing tomorrow night, Major League Baseball faces for the first time the strong possibility that at least half of the championship games for this summer sport will be played in November. This has come about because of the combination of 1) the additional round of playoffs that was instituted with realignment a few years ago; 2) the calendar falling in such a way that the season began several days into April; and 3) the numerous days off during the playoff rounds necessary to accommodate MLB's desire to play as many games on television on a single network during prime time as possible.

Playing baseball World Series games at night this close to the winter solstice is a tragedy. Playing night games even in early October can be a dicey situation in some markets, and it is almost certain that games played after dark in early November will feature less than optimal conditions for championship play.

The World Series should be completed no later than mid October. To shave 2 weeks off of its season, baseball could 1)reduce its season by 8 games to 154 (the number of games played over the course of much of the history of the sport; and 2) eliminating the All Star break, which, in spite of the PR efforts, no one really believes counts or cares about anyway.

While some would suggest that this will cost baseball money, the loss in gate receipts will largely be offset by reducing current disadvantages. By pushing the World Series back into November, baseball is competing against the middle of the schedule of college and professional football and against the beginning of hockey and basketball seasons. In addition, baseball might want to consider this with regard to basketball and hockey:

Those pro sports extend their championship games into June, by which time most fans are diverting their attention elsewhere. When teams are playing for the Stanley Cup in June, no one really cares anymore outside of Canada and the two U.S. cities playing for the championship. Casual fans elsewhere are no longer interested.

Baseball is similarly marginalizing itself. The games to begin tomorrow should have already been played.


Blogger John H said...

amen! I wish they would cut the schedule back to 154, but I don't see them following your logic on this one.

they certainly could cut down on the length of time it takes to play the play-offs by eliminating the length of time between play-off days.

November is ridiculous. Just for spite, I wish Minnesota and Denver play in the WS next year, just to show how ridiculous the new WS schedule can be.

4:35 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

For the same reason, I was hoping for a blizzard when Colorado played in a late October World Series two years ago.

7:59 PM  

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