So Twitter got me thinking... What's the perfect length of baseball season? And then what's the perfect playoffs to be paired with that season.
I've enjoyed the 60 game season, other than not being able to go to games, but 60 in a normal year is just too short and is obviously not what's going to happen going forward. But man, it's going to be tough to go back to 162, having seen a) The best teams still bubble to the top with 60, b.) the increased importance of each game.
The only downside of this 2020 package is that the number of playoff teams and seeming indifference between being seed 1 and seed 8 hasn't been great, although the NL is sure interesting going into the last weekend.
The most likely thing is that we will go back to 162, because that's the easy button, and it seems like the easy button always wins. People don't want to make less money (players and owners) and 162 brings things back to normal.
But this thread isn't about normal. This thread is about making things better. But at the same time coming up with a solution that both sides might just agree to (read: they don’t make less money)
So what the number?
For me its 124 games with 7 playoff teams in each league.
I’ll talk about the playoffs first. Playoff expansion is inevitable and the good thing about the 2020 expanded playoffs, if it was implemented going forward would be the reduction in the tanking we’ve seen a lot of in the last decade or so. There were always a couple really crappy teams, but the last couple years it’s gotten a little out of control. Expanding the playoffs is also an important source of additional revenue to offset the loses of dropping to a 124 game schedule.
So, how does 7 playoff teams work?
3 Division winners (seeds 1-3) and 4 wild cards (seeds 4-7)
Overall 1 seed gets a bye
2 vs 7 in a best of 3 series, but #2 only has to win 1 game (#7 has to win 2 games)
3 vs 6 in a best of 3 series, but #3 only has to win 1 game (#6 has to win 2 games)
4 vs 5 in a regular 3 game series
Round 2 – Reseed and play best of 5
ALCS – Best of 7
WS – Best of 7
I know this is confusing at first, but I really think it draws a clear delineation in the seeding and would mostly do away with the attitude that is occurring some this year of “does it really matter what seed we get.” Being the best team gets you a bye. Being a division winner gets you a clear advantage over the wild cards. Being a top 2 wild card is clearly important because you get a “real” series. And getting a 6/7 seed gets you in the playoffs, but it’s a tough hill to climb (eventually one of these 6/7 seeds would make a big run and it would be a great story).
Now for the regular season. 124 games. How would that work?
I’m going to steal from the NFL just a little and do away with this notion that is pervasive in MLB which is, everything has to be as equal as possible. Baloney.
Regular season runs from around Late April to mid September
Intra-Division: 48 games. 12 vs each of the other 4 teams
Intra-League: 55 games. 5/6 games vs the other 10 teams
Interleague: 21 games. 3 games against each of the 5 teams in “that’s years” opposing division (rotating like how it works now). But also 3 games against each of the 2 teams that finished in the same divisional ranking as you did the previous year. So, using a “normal” 2020 as an example, the Twins would play 3 games against all of the NL Central teams and 3 games against the Dodgers (since they won the NL West in 2019) and the Braves (since they won the NL East in 2019).
So, yeah, that leads to a bit of an unbalanced schedule, but who cares? The NFL has been doing that for ages and it creates some of the most marquee matchups of the year. It GUARANTEES good matchups.
Obviously dropping 38 regular season games is a hit to revenue, but I feel like at least some of that gets made up with a) expanded playoffs, b.) better attendance at the 62 home games that remain, and c) a negotiated TV contract for these in-season marquee matchups (ala Sunday Night Baseball).
Does anyone have Manfred's mailing address?