Friday, April 09, 2010

November Baseball: It Doesn't Have to Happen

Major League Baseball says it's likely---read: a sure thing---that the 2010 World Series will end in November, yet again.

So why is it April 9 and we're only in the first week of the season?

November baseball makes me wince, every time. You may as well say "cod ice cream."

Two things, and two things only, can prevent this travesty from becoming an annual occurrence: a) shorten the season, and/or b) start earlier.

We know that a) is probably out, because it would mean fewer games, which means less revenue from ticket sales and concessions. It's the lead balloon of solutions.

So what's wrong with b)?

What's MLB doing, starting the season on April 5?

They should have gotten a move on earlier.

Under the expected playoff format, the World Series won't begin until the last couple of days in October. Unless they play some Fall Classic doubleheaders, we're looking at another November finish.

Last year, the excuse for a later start in April was the World Baseball Classic taking up some time in spring training. Fine.

Yet here we are in 2010, no WBC, and we still have a tardy start.

Not that April 5 should be considered a late start; it should be just about right. But with the extra tier of playoffs and off days in the post-season that are somewhat unnecessary, April 5 (actually the 4th; the Yankees and Red Sox opened up on Sunday night) isn't soon enough to open the season.

I'm no fan of March regular season baseball either, but it's the lesser of two evils, as far as I'm concerned.

Why not shorten spring training---or start it earlier if you're afraid of losing revenue from those games, too---and hold Opening Day in late March?

But here's my caveat: try your hardest, MLB, to schedule at least the first week's worth of games in warm climates.

It's not possible to do so in all matchups, but there are enough warm weather teams to host a lion's share of openers.

In the American League, the Angels, A's, Rangers, Blue Jays (dome), Rays, and maybe the Royals should all have home games the entire first week, at least. In the NL, the Giants, Dodgers, Astros, Marlins, Padres, Braves and maybe the Cardinals should do likewise.

In the AL, those six teams would gobble up all but two other cold weather teams as opponents, leaving just one series played in a cold climate at a time. In the NL, you have the seven above-mentioned teams hosting, again leaving one series at a time played in a cold climate.

There are 14 AL teams, 16 NL teams.

So that gives the warm weather teams seven or eight games in a row at home out of the gate, and some teams would open the season with a West Coast trip---so what?

They're still going to play 81 at home, 81 on the road, like everyone else.

Keeping those warmer climate teams at home for the first week or so would allow many of the colder weather teams to rotate through those cities, delaying their own chillier home openers until well into the first week of April.

Again, there'd be some exceptions, thanks to good old fashioned math. It's still better than November baseball.

For example, this year's season could have started on Monday, March 29. The first Sunday night game would still have been on April 4, with MLB's precious Yankees-Red Sox tussle. This would necessitate that series beginning on Friday, April 2 in Boston, but at least it's in April.

Under this arrangement, the Tigers' home opener would likely have been on Monday, April 5, after playing on the road in Kansas City and, say, Tampa.

MLB should do whatever it can to keep the World Series played---and completed---in the month of October.

Is it too much to ask to finish baseball before Halloween?


Blogger Michael David said...

Another solution to short the season calendar wise, is scheduling double-headers. I mean, REAL double-headers. Not like now when a game ends at 4, everyone gets kicked out, and them come back at 7. True doubles-two games for the price of one. The owners would hate this, but it would be great for the fans (I know, we really count anymore), and would bring in more revenue in consessions and merchandise. I've been preaching this for years, but nobody listens.

6:02 AM  
Blogger D said...

They can make a ton of progress by reducing the number of off-days in the post-season, as well. While playing the World Series in seven games may no longer be feasable due to travel, the number of off-days is ludicrous - we all remember the Tigers 9 days off in 2006 - and allows teams like last year's Yanks to get through the entire playoffs with three starters.

10:06 AM  

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