The abridged table for 2020 sets the stage for long-term and radical changes to the MLB calendar | Laundress Report


Los Angeles Dodgers react to 7-3 defeat in 10 innings against Washington Nationals in game 5 of a National Baseball League division streak Wednesday, October 9, 2019 in Los Angeles . (Photo AP / Mark J. Terrill)

Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

If you feel like baseball is nearing its rebirth, you’re rightthis is.

According to an industry source familiar with discussions underway at the commissioner’s office, the season could start in late June or early July to group around 100 games. It’s not just a wish-casting, either. Momentum builds with both owners and players to do everything necessary to play ball in 2020.

Obviously, this is an optimized scenario depending on the confinement of the COVID-19 virus over the next 60 days. Second, the two sides must agree on the amount players should be paid in a stubby season.

There is a mountain of negotiations to come with understandable caution in moving too fast. As one executive told B / R, “What if you start [the season] and then stop? Forget baseball, think what it would do to the nation. ”

However, there is a consensus that baseball in any form is a better option than completely bagging it until 2021. This is why so many original ideas are in circulation, including understood the report of USA today this requires the suspension of the American and national leagues.

According to Bob Nightengale, who had a similar report on the return schedule, the 30 clubs would be grouped into three divisions of 10 teams based solely on geography, in which teams play only within their division. Regarding the playoffs, Jeff Passan of ESPN suggested a possible two-month round robin similar to the World Cup. Yes, a 60-day shootout that would guarantee teams at least 24 games, ending with a champion crowned on November 29.

The idea is breathtaking in its novelty. There is no logical reason to object to this experiencenot this yearand not just because it will give sports fans a much-needed distraction. The proposal indirectly addresses two deeper problems of sport itself:

  • The season of 162 games became an anachronism, an invitation to bad weather, injury and poor play. Aside from historical compliance, there is no rock-solid argument against returning to 154 or even 144 games outside of the financial ramifications. This summer’s busy schedule is focusing on the playoffs, where it should be.
  • In order to fight tanking, the American and national leagues could be definitively replaced by divisions A and Blike the Premier League and lower levels of English football. Elite teams only play against each other in this realignment. The eternal losers are eliminated in a separate league. They must earn the right to be on the same playing field as the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, among others.

Can one or both of these problems be resolved? A shorter calendar is more likely given its historical precedent.

After all, 154 games were the model for MLB until the expansion of 1962. That’s when the New York Mets and the Houston Colt .45 were added to the National League to create a 10-team league like the AL. Eight games were nailed to ensure that all clubs played an equal number of games against each other.

The Houston Colt .45s face the Philadelphia Phillies in the first Major League baseball game to play in an indoor arena, the Houston Astrodome, Houston, Texas, April 12, 1965. (Photo by Robert Riger / Getty Images)

Robert Riger / Getty Images

There has been no change for almost 60 years, although the opening day was recently pushed back to the end of March to prevent the season from overflowing until November. As a result, the first few weeks were more punishment than fun, especially in the Northeast, where conditions became increasingly cold before May.

No one enjoys four-hour games in heavy rain and temperatures of 45 degrees. It would make more sense to start the regular season two weeks later and tie up the games in an extended post-seasonwhen it really matters.

Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs made a compelling argument when he told ESPN 1000 in Chicago in 2018, “I think we play baseball too much. Yeah, the guys are going to cut wages. But do we play this game for money or do we like this game? I know it’s both, but in the long run everything will be fine.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 15: Anthony Rizzo # 44 of the Chicago Cubs is helped under cover by coach PJ Mainville after being injured against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third inning at Wrigley Field on September 15, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.

David Banks / Getty Images

“… In a perfect world, we would start the season later and play some scheduled doubles at the start of the day. As a fan, you go to a baseball game in April, and it’s raining, snowing and [with] Freezing Rain. Is it really fun? That’s my question. “

The owners, faced with the prospect of losing the income from four home games, would surely relapse. But this deficit could be made up with more money for more clubs in October. Even before the pandemic, there was talk of a new format in 2022, which would drop the field from 10 teams to 14 and give the best team in each league a bye.

Crazy? Unorthodox? Heretic? All of the above if you are a purist. But the idea of ​​focusing on the end of the season instead of the barely thawed openings in March and April must be seen for what it isa modernization of sport expected for a makeover.

And here is the second part of the upheaval: penalizing the teams that charge, a trend that has become a scourge for the sport. Certainly, the race to the bottom is a theoretical path to excellence, proven by the Astros, who lost 106, 107 and 111 games between 2011 and 2013 on the road to choice # 1 three years in a row. In 2017, with the help of a panel flight system, they won a world championship.

Yet the teams that go through the movements are behind the sport’s recession. As more discouraged fans stopped watching, total attendance at the MLB has declined in six of the past seven seasons. Last year, the threshold of 68.5 million was the lowest since 2003.

Ten teams lost at least 90 games last year; four lost more than 100. This includes the terrible chronic Baltimore Orioles, who have lost 223 games in the past two years and have not had a single winning season between 1998 and 2011. The same goes for the Marlins , which have not exceeded .500 since 2009.

These clubs did not earn the privilege of playing the Dodgers, who have not lost 100 games since playing in Brooklyn in 1908 and their mascot was the Superbas. Or the Yankees franchise, which has not given up as much since 1912 when they were the New York Highlanders. Or the St. Louis Cardinals, who haven’t lost more than 93 games since 1913. The Cincinnati Reds have had a 100-game losing streak since their inception in 1882.

These clubs have at least tried to hold the end of the market with the public: buy tickets and we will put our best team on the field each summer. These franchisesand their army of loyalistsare entitled to high-flying baseball from the opening day.

So put them together, like it’s done in Europe for football. Create three divisions of five teams with the best records from the previous season and group them by geography. This is your Elite League. The other 15let’s call them the Diamond Divisionconstitute the lower group. They don’t approach big boys; no interligue game.

In other words, unless they actually win a certain number of games – say 95 – or they win the Diamond Championship. It’s an automatic promotion to elites and an incentive to excel. Win and you climb the ladder. The last elite finalist is demoted to Diamond. In other words, you get what you deserve.

Orioles and Marlins can spend their summers together in the mud.


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