— Newsday Sports (@NewsdaySports) July 17, 2016
Innovations have become a staple of 21st century major league baseball, and now a major change is gaining traction.
Over the winter, the MLB Players’ Association actively pushed the idea of an 154-game schedule as opposed to the current 162-game format. According to David Lennon of Newsday, the possibility of reducing the major league baseball schedule by eight games has “gained momentum.”
While TV deals, salaries, and scheduling will have to be altered as a result of a potential change, players are arguing that increased fatigue resulting from minimal off-days is hampering the ability to stay effective from April to September.
It certainly is an interesting idea and would not be the first time the MLB was in that particular format. In fact, it took until 1961 and 1962, respectively, for the AL and NL to implement an eight game increase.
When asked about the idea of reduced games, commissioner Rob Manfred was not dismissive yet expressed concerns:
“Can something be done? Yeah, things can be done. There are ways to produce more off days in the schedule. Some of those have very significant economic ramifications that — if in fact we’re going down those roads — those economic ramifications are going to have to be shared by all of the relevant parties. You want to work less, usually you get paid less. But we are prepared to discuss the schedule issues and make proposals that are responsive to the ones that we’ve received from the MLBPA.”
In response, union chief Tony Clark took a more favorable attitude to the scenario. He took a perspective which turned Manfred’s concerns into positives.
“I don’t agree that there would need to be a discussion about a loss of salary or a rollback of salaries. Because if there is a lessening of the games . . . the value of every game goes up as well. I’m not talking about raising ticket prices. What I’m talking about is the idea that if I’m a fan coming to a ballpark, or I’m purchasing a season ticket, I know I’m going to see my guys as a result of x, y, z being done to make improvements to their overall health.”
One positive not mentioned publicly as of yet would be the implications on the playoff format. Rather than using the provided eight extra days as strict days off, they can allot five extra off-days during the regular season while using the other three for an extended wild card series.
The fact that any team’s 162-game — or 154-game for this matter –workload should come down to one game against one opponent is absolutely absurd. Even if the team is mediocre, the constant grind of six-month schedule should be answered with a short series at the very least.
If the two sides agree on a shortened schedule, the aforementioned three days off should be used to make the current one game wild card format into a three-game series. With the advancement, the team with the higher regular season record would earn games one and three at home.
There are certainly ways in which an eight-game reduction can be spun into a success benefitting both parties involved.