Written by: Shane Shoemaker (@SShoemaker24)
The MLB is considering a realignment of sorts with the news coming out about a possible expansion to 32 teams in the league in the future. One of those teams would potentially be in Portland, Oregon, while the other would bring back a team to Montreal. This could significantly change a lot of how the MLB operates, including that of scheduling. The rumor is that they would reduce the season schedule from 162 to 156 games, which gives every team one off day a week.
I still say a 156 games is way too much. Seriously, think about that for a second. Who watches all 162 games now? I’m sure there is some insane person out there who has the time to do that, but no normal, average person who has a job and family or any other thing in life to do could possibly watch all 156 games, much less 162. The reduction needs to be more significant than that.
If the MLB really wants to make a splash, change their entire business model of how sports are operated in the modern day, then do drastic changes, specifically to scheduling, like reducing the schedule to 120 games or less.
I’ve talked over and over about what baseball needs to do to keep thriving in the current time, whether that be somehow making new stars or relinquishing their grip on the past and all the unspoken rules that they adhere to. But one of the most important may be significantly subtracting the number of games in a season, especially in today’s time where there are so many more options for entertainment. Less is more now because there’s more entertainment and less time.
The NFL is dang near perfect in the length of their schedules because they can only play, as a team, one game per week. Even if you add up all the days the NFL is on television (Thursday, Sunday & Monday), this still keeps fans in anticipation for the next game the following week and able to enjoy, breakdown or even harp over the last game. Besides the actual style of sport that football is — much faster paced, physical — football carries much larger ratings because of their limited amount of product.
I think the less is more model has what’s helped the NFL thrive over the last 20 years or more in becoming the most popular sport in America because as entertainment and technology has improved and increased (the smartphone, social media), the attention span of fans has grown smaller and smaller because there’s so much of it to be consumed now on multiple platforms like YouTube, Netflix and others. People will always love sports, but they also love the rest of the worlds cornucopia of entertainment that is shelling itself out in a rapid pace right now.
I can only assume when schedules were made decades ago with leagues like the MLB or even the NBA — another league with too many games — that the feeling was that people needed more entertainment to pass the time, so the thought was to add more games. I can certainly understand that being the case for the MLB during the summer months where people could find themselves becoming bored during the week or during the middle of the day, but now, we all know that’s not the case.
I can see a lot of fans, particularly diehard fans, balking at the idea of a reduced schedule because it would, obviously, shorten the season, but it would also complicate how stats are recorded and compared historically.
This has happened before in the MLB when the American League went from 154 games to 162 games in 1961. Roger Maris would go on to hit 61 home runs in the 1961 season in the final game but was not regarded as the leagues all time season home run record holder until 1991. He and Babe Ruth, who hit 60 in one season, were acknowledged separately in the record books.
Maris’ home run record held the asterisk attached to it for decades, so if the league were to minimize its amount of games significantly — and I’m talking about going from presumably 162 games to somewhere around a 100-120 games, having no more than four games a week or so — it would change the way that stats are taken, calculated and taken in comparison, not to mention rosters.
For instance, what would this do for pitching rotations and bullpens if the schedule was reduced significantly?
This is something that is far off, probably likely never to happen, but it should. Sports is in for a major reconstruction over the next decade or so with television deals and how their going to compete with the rest of the entertainment market. So wouldn’t it be something to see the one league that’s so pigeonholed in its past — the MLB — do something so completely dynamic that it sets in motion a precedent for other sports leagues?
Watch the MLB playoffs now and look at how not only more entertaining, more engaging the play is compared to the regular season, but how the players are, which in turn makes the fans the same. Again, that has to go back to scheduling because it’s hard to keep that same type of enthusiasm for 162 games, whether you’re player or a fan.
I want a seasons worth of enthusiasm, and I want to have it where I don’t want to miss a game.
Less is more, and right now we need less games just so we can want more of them. A product is always better when people are left wanting more.