Baseball Debates: A new series of posts that raise debatable questions about the wide world of baseball. Each post will pose a question, argue both sides of the debate and then let you, the reader, have the final say. You can find the previous installments here: Fences, Saves, Coaches and Kurt Suzuki. Let’s get to it!
Welcome back to another installment of Baseball Debates. Up for debate this week is the length of the 162 game Major League Baseball season. American League teams have been playing 162 games a season since 1961 and National League teams started doing the same one year later. The only thing that has changed about the schedule since then is the opponents of each team, mostly because of expansion and divisional alignments. Since the Minnesota Twins 2014 season starts on March 31st and runs until September 28th, a span of 6 months between the start and finish of the regular season, Puckett’s Pond would now like to ask, Is the 162 game MLB Season Too Long?
- In order to fit all 162 games into a season where almost every stadium is open air, games need to start in April. But here’s the thing, April can often be an extension of winter. Three weeks into the 2013 season, 17 games had already been snowed/colded out and who knows how many more games were played in awful conditions just to keep the season on schedule. Cold muscles are much more likely to get pulled or strained and that is a serious concern for teams that invest heavily in their players’ health.
- Speaking of health, playing in so many games increases the chances of players becoming fatigued, which increases the chances of getting injured. Fatigue also decreases a players’ effectiveness and hurts the teams’ chances of winning.
- Having such a long season lessens the value of each individual game. Sure lots of divisional and wild card races are decided by a few games or less, but nobody really remembers the losses from April and May. Baseball is most exciting in September when every single game matters.
- Look at how much spectacle Football Sunday has. Since each team only plays once every week, all 16 games of the season could mean life or death. Such a short season drives up fan interest and creates a more cult-like devotion to the sport. If Baseball cut some of the games out of its schedule, it would raise the hype of each game.
- Following the rules of supply and demand, a shorter season would drive up the ticket prices for each of those games. A higher ticket price means more revenue for each organization to go out and buy better talent.
- The 162 game season gives each team time to face its own divisional opponents 19 times each every season and their respective league opponents 6-7 times, with 20 inter-league play sprinkled in. If you shortened the season, where would you cut games from? First, the divisional games are super important for determining the playoffs and it creates and perpetuates divisional rivalries. Second, playing each AL team home and away gives your team a taste of what you would be up against if you were to play them on the way to the World Series. Finally, the inter-league games gives your fans a chance to see your team go up against superstars you might never get to watch because they are in the other league. The inter-league games also produce fun “border battle” matchups, i.e. the Minnesota Twins vs. the Milwaukee Brewers that often have large contingents of away fans present.
- It is almost inevitable that multiple players are going to get injured from each team during the course of a season and the long 162 game schedule gives those players a chance to heal and still make an impact for the team later on. Losing a player to a 6-8 week surgery will probably cause you to lose some games you could have won but it won’t derail your season because they have time to recover and contribute in the same season. Losing a key player in the NFL for the same amount of time could be disastrous since the season is so short and each game matters so much.
- In baseball there is a much greater chance of any one team beating another team on any given day. All it takes is a timely homerun, an error or a starter’s slider that was working really well for an underdog to win and thus the winning percentages of playoff teams are rarely above .600. Over the course of a long season, the best constructed teams are going to come out on top but they’ll still have rocky slumps where they’ll lose a bunch of games. If the sample size of the MLB season was shorter, then the natural slumps would actually affect the outcome of the season.
- The more games there are the cheaper ticket prices can be. According to Seatgeek.com, the average ticket price for the Minnesota Vikings in the last year was $120 or so dollars. The average ticket price for the Minnesota Twins in the same period was in between $40-50. Cheaper seat prices, even if they are in the nosebleeds, gives better access to live baseball games since they are more affordable. A longer season with more games also gives individuals or families a much greater chance of finding games that they have free time to go to.
- Who’s going to complain about how much baseball there already is? How is it a bad thing for Twins fans to have 162 games to follow?
Now it’s your turn to vote! Leave a comment to support your decision or to let me know if I missed any important supporting or opposing points!