I will say this… Newly minted MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has come in to his new job with his ideas going off like fireworks. You may love his ideas, or you may hate his ideas, at least he is open-minded enough to consider options regarding the development of Major League Baseball in to a better, more fan-friendly product.
I have already shared my thoughts on his idea about shrinking the strike zone (Honey, I Shrunk the Strike Zone, February 20th, 2015). SPOILER ALERT: This is a bad idea… But Commissioner Manfred also has an idea about decreasing the number of regular-season games from the current 162, back down to the pre-1961 standard of 154 games. I know that people are screaming about what a bad idea this is, but let’s slow down and consider it for a minute. Is it really such a bad idea? On its’ face, it would seem that the reduction of 8 games per team/per season would hurt team revenue as far as gate receipts are concerned, and In the short term it might. There would be 8-less games of parking revenue, ticket sales, beer and food sales, team merchandise sales, and so on. But there would also be 8-less games of travel, meaning 8-less days of hotel rooms, decreased travel demands, and everything associated with the logistics of a traveling baseball team. I don’t believe that the loss of revenue would be as great as it sounds, and it may perhaps even be a wash. In the case of some teams, the loss of 8 games at the end of a season could even be looked at as kind of a ‘mercy killing’. When a team is out by 25 games with only 8 games left to play, it can be painful for the team as well as the fans to endure. For the very-out-of-the-race teams, it is 8-less games of keeping the lights on for games that nobody shows up to. The team would save on the salaries of hourly stadium workers, and all the costs associated with that. Factor in also the diminished risk of player injuries in games that don’t mean anything. There are probably a lot more things that I have not touched upon, but if you are getting the feeling that I might be in favor of a regular-season schedule with 8-less games on it, perhaps I am…
The trade-off is that we may not be playing a World Series in November, which I am TOTALLY in favor of. The playoffs could also see a change, as it has been suggested to eliminate the one-game Wild Card playoff, and make it into a short series. I really like that idea. Everything in baseball is about a series, and the playoffs should not be any different. He also offered that the number of playoff teams could be expanded, which also could be a good thing.
I like that Commissioner Manfred is approaching the game with an open mind. He is looking at everything, and not just simply eliminating ideas out-of-turn. He is listening. He is thinking. I like that..