MLB season. Does it really need to be so long/full?

I’ve thought this ever since I was a kid in the 80s. I love the Cubs but I can’t watch all of their games, even if they were all shown locally here. There are just way to many. I think MLB hurts itself by having so many games because it is hard for most fans to stay emotionally engaged for 6-7 months, 4-6 games a week. When there are over 160 games in the regular season it’s impossible to care about the first 80 or so (for me anyway). I think that is why the NFL is (essentially) Americas Favorite Pastime because it’s only 16 games, and the playoffs, and hopefully superbowl. It’s easy to stay engaged in the season when you only need to tune in once a week, on the same day each week (cept some Mondays).

Anyone else feel this way? I’m sure I’m not the first person to think this and I’ll be it’s been covered to death in the past. Is there any standard explaination?

EDIT: I’m not sure what the deal is with the NBA schedules so I can’t comment there only that the NBA is pretty much a joke league that has been overrun with BLING, uncalled travelling and slam dunk contests each game.

Yes, it does. The test of a champion is performing consistently over an entire season. The long season taxes the pitching staff and the bench has to contribute over the long haul. If it was one game a week like football, one good starting pitcher could carry a team a long way. Even the wild card teams have to prove themselves worthy by generally having to win at least 90 games to advance. Compare that to football where 9-7 and even 8-8 teams can get in the playoffs.

The only thing I would change about the schedule for the major leagues is, now that interleague play is upon us, I would require the World Series champions to play at least one series against every team in the other league, so that every team’s fans would have the chance to see the current champs every year.

The seemingly “long” MLB season has to do with the nature of the sport. Baseball is less bruising and physically wearying per game than football so they can play five or six times a week rather than just once. Also, baseball’s marathon of a season was established before the arrival of television which is better suited to covering a weekly event sport like football.

In addition, the actual seasons these sports are played in has a significant role. Baseball is played during the spring and summer when the weather is nice and the kids are out of school so they have plenty of time to play or watch games. Football is played during the autumn and early winter when the weather turns nasty. It also starts when school does and that itself played a huge role in shaping the length of the season and the frequency of games. American-style football initially became popular as a college sport and because in college you ostensibly have to set aside a lot of time to study and go to class, there was only time for one game a week that was usually on Saturday when there are no classes. When professional football started up, they followed the precedent set by college football by scheduling only one game per week but usually played their’s on Sunday so they wouldn’t directly compete with the colleges. (High school football does the same one-game-per-week thing but has their games mostly on Friday.)

In terms of expansion of their seasons, MLB actually has actually been the most conservative of the four major professional North American team sports. For the most part, the MLB season (including the play-offs and World Series) has almost always gone from April to October. Compare that with the NBA and NHL which used to go from late October/early November to early April but now end in late June and the NFL which used to play the Super Bowl in mid-January but has now pushed their championship game into February. With the increase in games from 154 to 162 and the addition of two rounds of play-offs, the MLB now starts about a week earlier in April and ends about a couple weeks later in October (with a few notable exceptions like a few years ago when the first game was played on March 31st and when the World Series was pushed into November by 9/11).

That’s nutty - that’s 42 games for an NL champ or 48 games for the AL champ. And if you want the “other fans” to see the champs, they’d all have to be away games. That’s 25% of the games away against teams not even in their league.

It would be a scheduling nightmare. And who really cares about last year’s champs anyway? A lot of those teams aren’t even together by the end of the next year.

For the record - I can stay emotionally involved all summer. I really miss baseball come winter :frowning:

Baseball and football have the right length of their seasons. Baseball has always been a daily game. Sure, I can’t imagine many people with the time to catch every game of every season. But, that’s why box scores are printed.

I don’t want to see the season go into November though. The rocket scientists at Fox have got to rethink that.

The NFL has the perfect length of their season as well. Starting right after Labor Day with the playoffs beginning right after the New Year. I don’t like the two weeks for the Super Bowl hype, but that’s a minor complaint.

The NBA and NHL seem to have interminably long seasons. Plus, two months of playoffs. Interesting when I read a “Day by Day sports facts” calendar, they will often have a historical date when an NBA or NHL championship was won. They used to be able to wrap things up a lot earlier.

I also agree the schedule is just the right length.

And as far as interleague play goes, I have the perfect solution. Get rid of it altogether! It’s a travesty to the game!

I understand logistically why MLB and NBA seasons have so many games, but as a bit of a “sport purist” it irks my sensibilities. I think the NFL is ideal, with pro soccer a close second.

Pro games should be inherently important and have critical value for determining which team is better than the other. This is the purpose of pro sport, competition. Each game should drive players and coaches to perform at their highest. The consequences for losing a game should be dire.

MLB and NBA seasons are filled with throwaway games, and are overly concerned with trends and streaks. That it takes whole series of games to (arguably) determine superior teams is ridiculous to me. That games have such little value that marquee players will often be shelved with reduced playing time to “save them up” for playoffs is equally ridiculous.

[stern horse]
No sir, I don’t like it.
[/stern horse]

I agree, but no nuttier than making the Braves play against the Royals or the making the Indians take the lid off that long-simmering rivalry with the Marlins every couple of years. :slight_smile:


Old home week for Dayton Moore and John Schuerholz!

Well, they have a score to settle from 1997.

Ever heard the phrase “Any given Sunday?” Any team can get lucky in a single game, but over the course of a series, the better team tends to come out.

Right, because playoff-bound NFL teams never rest their starters in Week 17.

Picking completely undeserving matchups would have been too easy, cmkeller.


Growing up, the biggest baseball fan in our family was my mother! She dearly loved her Chicago White Sox and we watched all the games on television, and occasionally drove up to Chicago to watch the games.

I moved to Europe for many years and when I returned, it was like something sinister had happened. Somehow, the old days of a double-header in about three hours was long over. Suddenly, one game seemed to last three hours and just about when the game got exciting, it seemed to stop long enough for you to go out in the backyard, start the grill, make some burgers and come back in before the next pitch.

That is pretty much when I lost interest. I still might watch the last game or two of the World Series if there are teams I care about, but as a casual observer, I think they have ruined the excitement and fun by stretching each game out so damned long. Just my humble opinion.


And the number of games is necessary. If Team A beats Team B once, who knows which team is actually better, (someone could have an off day. Someone could have gotten lucky). OTOH, if Team A beats Team B seven times out of nine, then Team A is the better team. Baseball rewards consistency.

  1. Because it’s been this way for over a century. It wasn’t always 162 games but it’s been well over 100 for a long, long time.

  2. Because it works. Baseball revenues have been climbing, with the exception of the 1994-1995 drop, for as long as most of us have been alive.

  3. Because it would be impossible to get it by the MLBPA.

  4. Because it would simply not be possible to maintain the same revenue streams with a season half as long. There just isn’t any reasonable expectation that you could make twice as much money in gate receipts and TV revenues for an 80-game season as you do for a 162-game season. I really do not believe that if the Devil Rays are only pulling 13,000 a night, they’ll get 26,000 a night if they halve the season.

  5. Because you would be changing the nature of the game at a fundamental level. Suppose you went to playing one game a week, like the NFL, over 26 weekends. The New York Yankees have instantly become one of the worst teams in baseball, because now every team starts its #1 starter in every game and the Yankees don’t have one particularly impressive ace starter. The best teams will all be teams with All-Star starters who have 9-inning endurance; now suddenly the Blue Jays are better than the Yankees, the A’s are better than the Mariners, etc. The likelihood that the legitimately good teams will win championships is greatly reduced. With an 80-game season you’d have the same effect to some extent. You only need 3 starting pitchers now, maybe even just 2.

  6. Because most baseball fans would hate it. I would hate it. I love that there’s a game almost every night, and I dislike the few off days that come up. I don’t watch every game but I like knowing what the score was.

I just can’t relate. One of the things I love about baseball is that it lasts as long as it does and as many games are played as there are. Teams need both skill and endurance in order to win. Luck is less of a factor. It adds to the drama of the game.

I’ve grown to really enjoy football, but I’m always disappointed by how few football games there are, and how quickly the season ends. It’s harder for me to maintain the same level of excitement about a team when they only have 3 hours of play time per week.

Pish and tosh.

Amen. There’s something so very comforting of knowing that I can turn on the radio almost every night and listen to a baseball game. Come about January, I start losing my mind. I traveled across the city to watch a beer league softball game because I was jonesing so hard for some baseball.

That’s the nature of baseball. In any given game, a batter could easily get no hits, or several. A fielder could be called upon to make several difficult plays, or none. A superior player or team is the one that’s able to play good baseball day after day, not necessarily the one that can turn in a great performance once in a while. That’s what baseball is. You might as well say you’d like marathons better if they only went a quarter of a mile.

Actually the NFL season is two months shorter (Sept. 9 to Feb. 4) than the MLB season (start of April - end of October).

I can totally not relate to the OP. In no way. Baseball is God’s Sport, played in the summer like Intended. The World Series will have a bit of a nip in the air, but that’s the way it should be…Summer and baseball coming to an end for the year, together. Basketball, OTOH, needs to cut some flab out of the schedule. Say…100 games worth. Hockey managed The Perfect Season a couple of years ago. Just the right length. :smiley:
As the Dodgers continue their Race to the Bottom. I actually think we will be statistically eliminated before the Nationals are.