Shortened MLB Schedule Could Heighten Interest As Well As Maintain Traditions
Dodger Stadium Will Host The Later -Than-Midsummer Classic
Winning 84 games barely puts a team over .500, but simply playing that many might be a real goal for Major League Baseball in 2020. The novel Coronavirus has already caused the cancellation of Spring Training, and Commissioner Rob Manfred has declared a delay of at least eight weeks before baseball will be able to resume.
Assuming the regular season begins in the middle of June, and the postseason keeps its current dates, each team can realistically expect to play 84 games. That total makes it easy for baseball to arrange a new schedule, one that is as fair and balanced as those in recent years.
The bulk of the games of course would involve the four division foes, which has averaged around eighteen to nineteen games per year against each team. Unfortunately, or in many cases thankfully, those intradivision contests will be reduced to twelve.
Each club would play two home series and two away series against its division rivals, accounting for 48 games. While fans might bemoan the reduction of meetings between enemies like Chicago and St. Louis, most of us would be relieved at having to endure a half dozen fewer snoozefests pitting the Royals against the Tigers.
As for teams outside the division, there would be just a single series against each with a trio of games. Half of those series would be played at home, and the other five would be on the road.
Those interdivision contests, combined with the aforementioned, bring the number to 78. The remaining half dozen, because of the odd number of teams, must be of the interleague variety.
Six is the perfect number to accomplish contests between American and National League clubs, as it suits MLB's 25 year tradition of geographic rivalries. Since the 1995 season teams that share the same city or state of region have played both home and away series against each other, games which could continue even during this much-shortened season.
So the Southsiders can play host to the Cubs for three games, and then the two Chicago teams could meet for three more in Wrigley Field. Ditto in the Big Apple for the Mets and Yankees, as well as the Angels and Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Less-publicized examples, such as Cleveland versus Cincinnati and the Cardinals against the Royals, can continue their geographical rivalries. It is far more feasible to utilize the limited number of interleague games on a matchup of clubs in proximity rather than the inane idea of sending the Marlins to play a series in Seattle.
A condensed calendar obviously shifts the All-Star game back by at least several weeks, and its accompanying break cannot be as extensive as the current five days. The Midsummer Classic at Dodger Stadium could be played on August 11, which is of course a Tuesday.
Nearly as significant as the All-Star event would be the first game after it, which is already on the calendar. For the first time ever a Major League game is to be played in Dyersville, Iowa, the setting of Field of Dreams.
Imagine how heightened that matchup between the Yankees and White Sox would be, now that it would open the second half of the 2020 season. Not long after the current All-Stars were leaving L.A., the legends of the past like Shoeless Joe would be arriving through a cornfield in Iowa.