March 28, 2020


As most of the world is in lock down, MLB, the union, players, agents and media pundits are kicking the can (the 2020 season) down the road.

The owners want the most games for the revenue.
The players want the most games for service time toward free agency.
The fans want the most games for enjoyment.

But how many games will constitute a valid season?

If the shutdown continues through May, is four months of games enough to have a legitimate champion? An 108 game schedule (2/3 season) seems reasonable.

But it gets tricky after that point.

How many is too little?

You have 30 teams, 15 per division. In a shortened season, would it not be prudent to keep the games within your league?

If so, each club has 14 opponents. You would think each owner would want at least one "home and home" series. Three games two times 14 equals 84 games. Is this the bare minimum?

What if it a shortened two game series per club? 56 games played seems awfully light.

Some would say 81 games, half of a regular season, is the cut off point. There is some speculation that a drawn out wave of coronavirus spread across the US could shut down travel and gatherings throughout the summer.

Some have proposed that you can fatten the number of games played by increasing doubleheaders. But even with expanded rosters, multiple double headers during a week will grind pitching staffs down to the bone. Is it worth the risk for the long term viability of the game?

These are important questions for baseball, but for also other industries trying to cope with the uncertainty of this situation. As we now know, baseball is not an essential service. 

March 25, 2020


Is it better to love than to never love at all?

It seems that proverb is part of the ongoing discussions between MLB, the players union, players, agents and fans.

Agent Scott Boras wants a 162 game schedule no matter when the season starts. He thinks a Christmas Day World Series game would be fine. A cynic must assume that he wants a full season to earn full commissions from his players.

The national pandemic shut down has postponed the season start to probably May. It will take several weeks for teams to re-start spring training so pitchers have time to stretch out. Memorial Day may be the new opening day.

But for fans, it still is tradition. They want their team games played at home, not at a southern neutral site (especially for playoffs). Owners are in it for the revenue so appeasing the hard core fan base is a mutual obligation in the final schedule.

I think most people will be alright with an 81 game shortened season. The players are barking about getting a full year service time (so they can get to free agency quicker). It is doubtful that the players will get their full salary for a half season. A short season does put more teams into play for the post-season.

MLB has been pushing the boundaries of the season before this crisis. 2020 was supposed to begin in March. The playoffs are getting pushed into November. It is all television revenue driven decisions.

But there is still a small probability that the season could be cancelled (like the Toyko Olympics). The adjustment of the travel schedule, the possibility of bankruptcies to hotels, airlines etc. may make the logistics of even a short season a nightmare.

But the biggest hurdle may be overall fan interest. With no current pro sports, fans are re-wiring their entertainment habits. They are finding new things to do while isolated at home. The great unknown is how many of these baseball fans will drop their consumption of baseball. Many people can easily get over a lost love, but will people who love baseball let it go, too?

March 17, 2020


A writer at NBC sports has decided that whenever baseball returns in 2020, it should hold a March Madness bracket tournament instead of a shortened season.

This is what happens when sports talkers and writers have no sports to talk or write about.

His idea is a seeded tournament with the two pennant winners having a first round bye. Each round would be a 9 game series.  Teams would move their way along to a World Series tandem.

The problem with this idea: it is crazy bad.

Owners will not want half their teams total 2020 revenue end with 9 games (or 4 home games at most). The players cannot pad their stats for the next contract if games played is only 9 in 2020.

Fans would not be happy with a "one and done" series.

The local television revenue would be zero since local broadcasters would be screwed over.

The owners will demand that no matter how many available dates, they will play 100, 75 or even 50 to crown pennant winners.

The lack of spring training is going to take a real bad toll on pitchers.  The new (and stupid) three batter pitcher rule is going to cause more injuries, even in a short season. Bullpen arms are not based on full innings' workload. One relief pitcher throws an inning, he is usually not available for a couple of days.

2020 is going to have many issues but fundamentally changing the schedule is nonsense.