We all have seen the data on how baseball is trending in terms of viewership especially as we trend younger by demographics.
One of the biggest problems baseball faces is the perception that in an 162 game season... an individual game in the middle of June or July doesn't matter. The excitement of each game doesn't compare to the excitement down the stretch or in the playoffs when every out matters and managers and teams maximize every pitch and every scenario to win now and figure the rest out later.
In baseball, it goes so far that there are throwaway lineups on Sundays and managers in most regular season games a lot of the time will manage for the 160 game season... not to win an individual game. Baldelli specifically found great success in managing an 160 game season by resting players. But, by the nature of those choices, baseball teams aren't maximizing their product on a game by game basis and instead trying to maximize the product of an overall 160 games.
There are many games, especially on worse teams, where many innings in the major leagues are pitched by either horrible back of the rotation starters (think of the years the Twins had a revolving door of AAAA guys) and long relievers who are borderline major league caliber.
The best way to fix all of these things is to shorten the season. With a 60 game season, you will see team's play to maximize every out and every game--as a few losses could be the difference between the playoffs or not. You will see managers rely on their best pitchers and best players more consistently in more games and for more innings because they don't have to rest them for a full 162 games.
I think there is a case to be made that in terms of pure excitement, a 60 game season could be a blessing in disguise for baseball. While I don't think that baseball will ever implement a meaningfully shorter season, it will be interesting to see what a baseball regular season looks like in a world where every win or loss is worth almost 3 wins or losses in a regular baseball season (and further every out is worth 3x as much) and how that change of incentives impacts the way that baseball teams approach individual games and the way that change of product impacts the viewer's perspective of the game.
What do you think? Do you think a 60 game season is, while not normal, potentially a way to meaningfully change the game and the incentives in the game that could lead to a different product--both for players and for viewers? How will the changes to the product driven by the incentive changes positively or negative impact the product of the game--both in on field performance and viewership? The 2020 season will feature a product in which every scenario that happens is worth almost 3x the magnitude of a scenario in a previous season.
I think this increase in the meaningfulness of each scenario will result in the a product that is a much more intense viewing experience leading to a more captive and interested audience that actually results in fixing a lot of the issues that are actually at the core of conversations when people talk about issues like pace of play or other issues with the product of baseball.
The real problem with baseball is that because of the length of the season, baseball team's aren't incentived to maximize each scenario and in fact aren't able to structurally optimize each scenario in order to optimize their play over 162 games. Baseball is a marathon and not a sprint. If you start a marathon sprinting, you will quickly tire and lose the race. From a viewership standpoint, a marathon is not nearly as exciting as watching a sprint.
The 2020 season is baseball's chance to innovatively test a drastically different product model with drastically different incentives. It will be a great live experiment on both of the known and unknown impacts of this change of product incentives.