My 5 Point Plan to Make MLB Better
by Matt Fischer
MLB has a new commissioner who seems open to improving Major League Baseball. I’d like to help him with that. I have a five point plan that’ll boost revenue, bring more fans to baseball and make the game much more appealing to a younger generation that’s gravitating away from baseball.
Step 1 – Shorten the Season to 132 games
There has been talk of shortening the season for years now but most of that revolves around shrinking it by a handful of games. It needs to be a radical change. Taking 30 games off the schedule will make games more important.
Shortening the schedule will keep MLB from having to compete with football in the fall. The MLB season should start on Thursday with divisional games.
With a smaller margin or error, games will carry added significance and get more viewers. The regular season should end on Labor Day. Don’t have meaningless regular season MLB games competing against the NFL.
The shorter season will mean all these 162 game records will be set in stone, but new records will be created. With 132 games, hitting .400 for a season is more attainable. ERA’s under 2.00 are a possibility. Records for quality instead of quantity will be the new norm.
Instead of having the dog days of the MLB season in August, that month will be the playoff push and all it’s competing with is NFL preseason games on TV. With meaningful baseball, viewers will tune in to see their team jockey for playoff positioning.
Step 2 – Consolidate Divisions
Six divisions is hurting potential fan engagement through rivalries. Consolidating into three divisions (East, Central and West) can help bring more fans to the ballpark by having teams geographically closer play every season in a ballpark. For example, Cubs fans in Kansas City, could see their team play every season instead of on the interleague schedule every few years. More tickets will be sold and the rivalries among fans will further engage them with their favorite team.
With three, 10 team divisions, each team will play eight games against their divisional foes (four home and four away) while playing three games against the rest of MLB with them rotating home and away season by season.
There is no realignment and no more American or National Leagues. The divisions from each league are merged. Simply MLB East, MLB Central and MLB West.
For example this is what the Kansas City Royals schedule would look like for 2016:
4 games at home and away against the MLB Central including Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.
3 games at home against half of the MLB East and MLB West. For this example, they’d host the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals.
3 games away against half of the MLB East and MLB West. For this example, they’d play at Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.
Step 3 – Create More High-Stakes Playoff Games
With the 3 divisions, the top three seeds will all earn a playoff birth but the remaining five teams to make the playoffs will come from the best records.
With teams seeded 1-8, they’ll be matched up for a one game playoff with the higher seed having homefield advantage. With the excitement wildcard games have brought to MLB, having all playoff teams play a one-game elimination game will create even more excitement for fans and make everyone feel like they’ve got a shot at making it to the World Series.
It’ll take on a tournament feel where you could have the actual two best teams in MLB playing for the title instead of the winner of each league. It’ll be like March Madness but in September.
Even though a team might have won 100 games and had the best record in MLB, in one game it could be eliminated from the playoffs.
Eliminate the numerous days off during the playoffs and have a playoff schedule that looks like this based upon the 2016 calendar.
MLB regular season ends September 5, 2016
First round playoffs happen September 8-9, 2016. Two doubleheaders each day. The 1 vs. 8 and 4 vs. 5 games will happen on September 8 and 2 vs. 7 and 3 vs. 6 on September 9.
On September 10, the winners of the September 8 games will begin a seven game series hosted by the higher seeded team. They will play September 10-11 at the higher seed, September 13-15 at the lower seeded team and then if necessary, games 6 and 7 will happen on September 17 and 18.
On September 11, the winners of the September 9 games will begin a seven game series hosted by the higher seeded team. They will play September 11-11 at the higher seed, September 13-15 at the lower seeded team and then if necessary, games 6 and 7 will happen on September 18 and 19.
The World Series will then begin on September 22 at the ballpark of the higher seeded team. They will play games 1 and 2 on September 22-23, games 3, 4 and 5 at the lower seeded team’s ballpark on September 25-27 and return if needed for games 6 and 7 on September 29-30.
I know not having baseball in October will meet resistance but baseball needs to be wrapped up by the time the NFL is in full swing and college football begins conference play. This will get more viewers and we won’t have to watch as many games in frigid temperatures.
Step 4 – Create Run Zone on MLB Network
The MLB Network has brutal content right now and with 162 games, watching a random game each night isn’t that intriguing. However, settling in for a night of baseball where they’re bouncing from game to game as players get in scoring position will grab my attention…and keep it for hours.
The NFL’s Red Zone is intoxicating. I have had numerous Sundays where I sit down for the noon kickoffs and next thing I know the late games are wrapping up. It’s been six and a half hours of football but has flown by and been quite entertaining. This would boost viewership a great deal for MLB. It’ll attract sports bettors who are helping prop up TV viewership for meaningless games.
Step 5 – Change the All-Star Game
With no more leagues, I’d make the game even more TV friendly. Since there will be fewer games broadcast, television partners can capitalize on the All-Star game.
First, move the game to Sunday Night. This will allow for a bigger audience with no competition in July.
Second, instead of having fans vote for the All-Star starters, have fans vote for three captains of each of the teams. You could sell sponsorship of these teams. It could be the MLB Blue All-Stars brought to you by SportsFormulator for example. Each team nominates two players, and then fans choose one team captain for each team from each of the three divisions.
Then there’s a All-Star Draft Special an hour before the Sunday Night Baseball game the week before the game. The three captains of each team pick 30 man rosters.
Well that’s my plan to make MLB better. What do you think?
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