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Opinion - Is the way to fix baseball implementing a 60 game season?

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#1 twins1095

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 03:04 PM

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.

 

 

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#2 Shaitan

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 03:43 PM

"The best thing about baseball is its seasonal length."

 

Fixed it for you. ;)

 

That's my personal take.

 

I do see most of this year's suggestions as a test run of Manfred's goals of "modernizing" the game.

 

But I think MLB stands to make more money with 162 game schedules than 60. Unless they find a way to maximize TV contracts to the point where it negates losing 100 games of ticket sales + concessions, the season will stay long. (And I welcome that.)

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#3 Craig Arko

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 04:29 PM

No, but I’d be happy with 154 again.

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Update your priors.


#4 DannySD

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 06:05 PM

How about, once every 4 years, we get a 60-game season and a World Cup/Actual World Series. 


#5 twins1095

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 06:24 PM

"The best thing about baseball is its seasonal length."

Fixed it for you. ;)

That's my personal take.

I do see most of this year's suggestions as a test run of Manfred's goals of "modernizing" the game.

But I think MLB stands to make more money with 162 game schedules than 60. Unless they find a way to maximize TV contracts to the point where it negates losing 100 games of ticket sales + concessions, the season will stay long. (And I welcome that.)


I personally agree about the season length. I enjoy the marathon, but when speaking about what would be most enjoyable en masse...that may not be the case.
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#6 twins1095

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 06:26 PM

No, but I’d be happy with 154 again.


I don’t understand that opinion. That doesn’t seem like a meaningful change in any sort of incentives. Sounds like simply re-arranging deck chairs.

#7 Nine of twelve

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 07:08 PM

Here's a piece from 538.com:

 

https://fivethirtyei...-are-162-games/

 

The main reason I like a long season is simply that there are more baseball games to watch that way. But I think it's also better in terms of "justice being served" because teams that succeed over longer seasons are more likely to be the best teams overall.

 

If the goal is for the World Champion to be the best team then probably the best way to accomplish that is to have a long season with a balanced schedule among all teams. Under the current 30-team configuration that would mean each team would play each other team 6 times for 174 games. Start at the beginning of April and finish during the middle of October. At that point the first place team is World Champion. No postseason. The end.

 

That doesn't necessarily mean I think it should be done this way. I'm just putting this thought out there.

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#8 Nine of twelve

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 07:25 PM

 

Here's a piece from 538.com:

 

https://fivethirtyei...-are-162-games/

 

The main reason I like a long season is simply that there are more baseball games to watch that way. But I think it's also better in terms of "justice being served" because teams that succeed over longer seasons are more likely to be the best teams overall.

 

If the goal is for the World Champion to be the best team then probably the best way to accomplish that is to have a long season with a balanced schedule among all teams. Under the current 30-team configuration that would mean each team would play each other team 6 times for 174 games. Start at the beginning of April and finish during the middle of October. At that point the first place team is World Champion. No postseason. The end.

 

That doesn't necessarily mean I think it should be done this way. I'm just putting this thought out there.

And here's another interesting thought about this proposal. In this system there would be more incentive for all but the top few teams to trade their top players for prospects. This has the potential to recreate a Cleveland-Spiders-like problem. So, no in-season trades. Each franchise must use only the players in its system for the entire season.


#9 ToddlerHarmon

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 01:01 AM

A note about the premise of baseball being broken. They manage to sell 50 million tickets during the course of a season, and that includes plenty of midday, weekday games in April and September. They are a different product than the NFL, but they are doing just fine, and may be better situated to weather the cord-cutting trend.

 

Still, I'd be okay with a 120-ish game season to tighten up the single-game quality, but not 60, for the reasons listed above.

 


#10 mikelink45

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 06:47 AM

for an old guy who lives up in the country and depends upon radio I love to have lots of games - I listen as I garden, cut firewood, and do other chores - it is so pleasant to have a game on the air so the more the better. 

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#11 Vanimal46

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 08:41 AM

I wouldn’t make wholesale changes to try and appeal to a demographic that may never be a fan of the sport. It doesn’t matter whether the regular season is 200 games, 162, 100, or 60. If you don’t like it you’re not going to watch it.
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#12 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 10:39 AM

 

I wouldn’t make wholesale changes to try and appeal to a demographic that may never be a fan of the sport. It doesn’t matter whether the regular season is 200 games, 162, 100, or 60. If you don’t like it you’re not going to watch it.

 

This, I think, is the crux of the argument.The younger demographic that is indifferent to baseball; are they indifferent because they don't like the season length, or because they don't like the game.If the latter, no amount of schedule shenanigans is likely to change it.

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#13 Vanimal46

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 12:06 PM

This, I think, is the crux of the argument. The younger demographic that is indifferent to baseball; are they indifferent because they don't like the season length, or because they don't like the game. If the latter, no amount of schedule shenanigans is likely to change it.


I think it’s because they don’t like the game. It’s certainly a slower pace compared to the other major sports. The sport is also not doing their fans any favors by continuing to rely on local TV revenue and blacking out the game if you don’t pay for traditional cable.

Personally, I don’t like professional basketball. No matter what they did, shortening the season, creating a 5 point shot, etc. none of that would entice me to turn on a basketball game.
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#14 jbissell

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 12:24 PM

I watch baseball for 2 reasons. 70% of my enjoyment comes from cheering for my favorite team, and 30% comes from following individual stars from all teams in their quest for legendary status. 

 

Shortening the season takes a large part of my enjoyment of the game away from me, and I would be vehemently opposed to it.


#15 Teflon

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 01:32 PM

It would be difficult economically. There would have to be a lower scale for player salaries and broadcast contracts. The municipalities that are trying to pay off stadium debt might have some issues as well since they draw from ticket taxes, taxes on concessions, hotel rooms, etc. Also, the neighboring businesses, bars and restaurants dependent on stadium traffic would suffer.

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#16 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 04:40 PM

 

I think it’s because they don’t like the game. It’s certainly a slower pace compared to the other major sports. The sport is also not doing their fans any favors by continuing to rely on local TV revenue and blacking out the game if you don’t pay for traditional cable.

Personally, I don’t like professional basketball. No matter what they did, shortening the season, creating a 5 point shot, etc. none of that would entice me to turn on a basketball game.

 

What if at one point during the game, they flashed a phone number and a fan ID number, and if it's your number and you call within 15 minutes, you win $10M dollars.Would you watch then?

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#17 yarnivek1972

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Posted 28 July 2020 - 02:44 PM

A note about the premise of baseball being broken. They manage to sell 50 million tickets during the course of a season, and that includes plenty of midday, weekday games in April and September. They are a different product than the NFL, but they are doing just fine, and may be better situated to weather the cord-cutting trend.

Still, I'd be okay with a 120-ish game season to tighten up the single-game quality, but not 60, for the reasons listed above.


I wouldn’t say a sport that has seen ratings decline consistently for the last 25 years and attendance declining for the last 10-12 years is “doing fine”.


https://en.m.wikiped...ratings_by_year

https://www.baseball.../MLB/misc.shtml
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#18 SomeGuy

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Posted 28 July 2020 - 03:32 PM

I disagree with whole "the sport is fading away" take.The sport generated a record $10.7 billion in 2019, MLB broke 10 billion for the first time in 2017, and took 10.3 in 2018.

 

I also disagree with the 1 game in June or July doesn't matter.When teams are missing the playoffs by a game or 2 it turns out those games in June and July did matter.The playoff picture has been mostly competitive right up to the end since they added a 2nd wildcard with numerous teams getting eliminated in the last week.And at the end of the season the last 10 teams standing earned their way there. 1 hot streak doesn't mean a whole lot with a full season.

 

How would you build a team around a 60 game season? If the timeframe remains April/May to September then you are playing a couple games per week.There would be no need for 4th or 5th starters.There would be no need for 12-13 relievers. There would be no need for 25 people on a team.This would swing the team aspect of baseball into more of an individual sport where the absolute elite pitchers win championships.

 

If the season is condensed like 2020 with the normal weekly schedule, a common arm injury like a forearm strain suddenly takes a guy out for most of the season if not all of the season like it just did with Verlander.What would have been about 1/3 of the season without one of the best players is suddenly most of the season.

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#19 mikelink45

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Posted 29 July 2020 - 12:29 PM

I have always been a baseball fan.I became a fan when my parents and grandparents took me to see the Milwaukee Braves every year for at least one series.I was a fan as I listened to my transistor radio and I loved the cardboard cards with their stats - ones I could understand.I became a radio fan because I live out in the country and I love the feelings and sounds of the game.But now I am trying to find a way to sell all my old sports cards because my grandkids don't care.They play soccer and LaCrosse. They do not want to sit threw a 4 hour game no matter how many hotdogs I buy (two are vegetarians).The fact that they have to take a math class to understand the new metrics does not appeal to them.Strike out and home run are not enough to capture their imagination.  

 

We are in a time when fast counts, action is needed.Baseball has to address this and analytics is not going to solve that.Even I, after 65 years of fandom can be put off by the length of games, the pace of play, the statcast, the launch angles, the speed of the ball leaving the bat, the spin rate...yawn. 

 

I love watching Ken Burns' baseball series.I love seeing players play the game - I would love to see Arraez instead of Kepler lead off, but of course my baseball is in the rear view mirror.Yet I want my grandkids to love the game too and none of them do. 

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#20 Ebby Calvin Laloosh

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Posted 29 July 2020 - 03:15 PM

I don't think a 60 game season will bring in more, young fans. I don't think the random tweaks in the rules will do it either. I'd suggest the MLB invests heavily in Little League, Babe Ruth, and donate some money so every public elementary school in the state has a team and a place to play. I'm a baseball fan because I played on three or four different teams every summer growing up, not because OPS is particularly interesting. Not every fan needs to digest all the new stats and metrics. Just get kids playing baseball. Was there every anything better than when your whole Little League team went to the Dome to catch a Twins game? That's how you make life long fans, hook 'em early.

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