Will 2016 Mark the End of Major League Baseball’s 162-Game Season?
Of all of the main sports in America, baseball has always been played at the most leisurely pace. But the laid back nature of the game hasn't been the only thing on the slow side for baseball over the years. The sport has always been notoriously slow at embracing change.
While football, basketball, and hockey were expanding the number of teams that qualified for the post season, Major League Baseball stood pat until the 1990's. Now ten teams make up the baseball playoffs each year.
But that increase has come with a downside - an already long season has become even longer. Those additional games have moved the end of the baseball season into late October - and sometimes early November - in some of this country's harshest climates.
In recent years, those playoff games have also played second fiddle to the popularity of the National Football League, which routinely trounces MLB post season games in the TV ratings.
Now, with a new season less than three months away, Bleacher Report says there may be relief in sight for marathon baseball seasons.
In 'Will 2016 Spell the End of Major League Baseball's 162-Game Season?', BR's Jacob Shafer says baseball commissioner Rob Manfred may attempt to propose a 154-game schedule to players and owners when a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated after this season.
The current 162-game slate was instituted by the American League in 1961 and the National League in 1962, when ten teams completed in each league. Back in those days, each league winner advanced directly to the World Series, meaning the seasons were done by mid-October.
Under the currently playoff schedule, if each series went the maximum number of games, an additional 13 games in each league are tacked on to the schedule.
Reducing the season to 154 games wouldn't drastically change the competitive balance of the game, it would essentially trim one week off the regular season.
The biggest benefit would be the opportunity to re-work baseball unfortunate 'one-and-done' wild card games. A few extra days in the schedule could stretch the wild card to a best-of-three series, which would generate more fan interest and more television revenue.
Ironically, money is also at the top of the list of reasons why baseball might not scrap the 162-game slate.
Money hungry owners, especially the ones with teams NOT benefiting from post season ticket sales, will more than likely balk at giving up eight games worth of gate receipts. If the owners are forced to give up money, they'll push to reduce salaries, something the players' union will vehemently oppose.
I fancy myself a baseball 'purist', but I believe there's a ton of merit to a shorter regular season.
Good luck Mr Manfred trying to convince billionaire owners and millionaire players to put the interest of the fans ahead of their bottom lines.