Dear MLB: Blow the Schedule Up
Image courtesy of © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY SportsWhat could it look like? How could MLB promote more exciting baseball? Is 162 the right amount of games? Is the inclusion of reality TV a real thing? Is it logistically even possible?
So I came up with an idea.
It's a little crazy, (I think) more exciting, fewer games, includes weekly reality TV and (most likely) would be a logistical mess (in every aspect imaginable). But would be all sorts of entertaining. Oh, and it includes two new expansion teams. We need 32 teams for this to work.
Phase 1 runs for 13.5 weeks and each team plays 27 three-games series. The phase runs from March 25 until June 27. Each team would play each division opponent for five series (15 games x 3 teams = 45 total games) and each league opponent in one three-game series (12 teams x 3 games = 36 games.) The first phase would be 81 total games. You would alternate home-field advantage (and the 41st home game) every other year. At the conclusion of Phase 1, each team would get a full week off, which includes all the All-Star Game festivities, and, potentially, the trade deadline.
Phase 2 is where things start to get different. It will be exclusively five-game series for nine weeks, with those games all being played between Tuesday and Sunday. It's also the beginning of the "playoffs." Crazy, huh? Stay with me.
Only the teams that finished Phase 1 in fourth place would play a best-of-five series in the first week, though. The other 12 teams in each league would match up with an opposing division and play a five-game series, with the games counting towards their overall record.
In the second week of Phase 2, the two third-place teams with the worst record would play the fourth-place winners, with the fourth-place losers also facing off (all ties would be broken with head-to-head games, as everyone plays league opponents, initially, an odd amount of times). Non-playoff teams would play an interleague opponent.
This is where Manfred can get his reality TV. The third-place team with the best record gets to choose which fourth-place winner they want to play. Depending on how far in advance MLB wants to do things, they could also announce all other weekly matchups. Teams all travel on Monday and all tickets go on sale Monday morning (which would help limit after-market sales, maybe).
I have the whole bracket made up here, if you're interested.
Essentially, over the nine-week phase you slowly introduce all the teams into a bracket-style tournament. Each week culminating with a primetime, Sunday Night two-hour show that reveals and previews the next week. Yes, Sunday Night baseball would probably have to go. Yes, Monday is probably now baseball-less. And, yes, you also don't know where or when your favorite team will be playing for the upcoming week until days in advance. (Though I imagine someone smarter than me could work out these kinks.)
Over those nine weeks, no team will play more than 45 games. Some teams (if swept or sweep in best-of-five sets) could play as little as 27 games. (Though you could make those best-of-five series a regular five-game series if you really wanted to. Again, that's for someone smarter to decide.)
Phase 3 would begin in early September - right in time to compete with the NFL - and the first two weeks would include all teams, all would have a chance to make what would eventually become a more traditional playoff look. All best-of-seven series over a ten-game stretch. (The four teams in each league that lose in both Weeks 1 and 2 would be eliminated and could enter an 8-team tournament to determine draft order.)
If you look at the bracket, you'll notice a lot of "battle back" games starting at week 8; teams looking to re-enter for the chance to win the World Series. That would end after Week 11, when the four winners in each league enter the Division Series (week 12). The winners then play the Championship Series (week 13). The season would be capped off by the World Series (week 14) which would take place between October 17 and October 26.
It would be a seismic shift. Fewer games. More intrigue. And fascinating to think about. Little changes are silly. Big, out-of-the-box changes, though, might just attract new fans, all while keeping the old ones.
- Minny505 likes this