Major League Baseball has seen labor peace for over twenty years and I couldn’t be more happy about that. The thought of a summer without baseball is horrifying to me. That said, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires soon after the 2016 season ends. While I don’t expect a work stoppage, there are several topics that have become interesting to me. Let’s address four of them. Two in this article and two in a future column.
Season Length-Obviously the union and players would like to have the season shortened. The number of games you hear thrown around include 150,152,154 and even 158 games.
One of the beauties of the baseball season is its number of contests. It allows for talent, or lack of talent, to come out over such a large amount of games and opportunities. Bad calls, bad decisions, bad weather and just simple hidden vigorish typically even out. You don’t see that as much in the other sports, especially the NFL, where one bad call or bad decision could literally cost a team a playoff spot.
The owners probably don’t want to give in and lose gate receipts, but in these days of nine figure contracts, cutting the players a break may actually help the owners in less DL time and fresher players.
Shortening the season could also allow for an expansion of the wild card round to a best of three, which I’m sure would make some Pirate fans happy.
Fishy’s Opinion-Cut spring training by 7 days. Reduce the number of games to 154. Start the season 4 days earlier. This would allow 12 extra days off for the teams and players during the season. Each team would be required to have (2) two consecutive day breaks in all of that new time off.
It allows Clint to give the fans what they want and the team the best chance to win. Cutch could play the equivalent of his current 150-152 games and only miss maybe two team games, due to the extra off days on the schedule.
This would give you more match ups with a team’s better players versus the other team’s better players, as the need for days off on game days would be reduced.
If a team wanted to, they could also reduce the need of number five pitchers, as the additional 12 days off per year would allow you to play your better pitchers with the current 4 days off and have less reliance on those bottom of the rotation types. Move your number five guy to a long man’s position or another role in the pen.
As it relates to the wild card. I would NOT change the current system. To me, winning the division is a reward of an entire season of good baseball. Not winning the division should put you at a severe disadvantage. That disadvantage is a one game “winner take all” fracas.
I’m not sure how changing it to three games makes a difference anyways. Let’s say the Pirates had a 30% chance to beat Jake Arrieta in the wild card game. They lost the game. I don’t think the odds that the Pirates winning the next two games, to take the best of three, would have been any better than the original 30% anyways.
Win your division or shut up about the one game wild card.
Roster Sizes-The game has changed. Changes must be made to keep up with the game. In this day of specialized pitchers, the demanding 162 game schedule and the tougher travel due to TV schedules, it is time to expand the rosters a little bit.
There has been talk of expanding to 27 or 28 players, which could add to payrolls and additional jobs for the players, so the union is for it. The owners probably wouldn’t be totally against though, as it could give managers more flexibility and could ease player fatigue and therefore DL time.
There has also been talk of the September call up scenario and changes to that.
Fishy’s Opinion-Expand the rosters to 28, but treat it like hockey does with a manager “dressing” only 26 for any given game. This would eliminate the constant back and forth between the MLB and AAA when a team plays a run of extra inning games and the such.
Limit a pitcher to throwing in only 3 consecutive games, and while we are on the subject, make a pitcher throw to at least two full batters (unless injured and if a pitcher claimed injury, he wouldn’t be available for three games). This would speed up the game some (less pitching changes) and could make for interesting pitching/pinch hitter/lineup scenarios late in games.
As for the September 40 man roster? Can that rule immediately. It’s ridiculous that teams play under a different set of rules for the homestretch of the season. Utterly stupid. If you want these prospects to “experience” the major leagues, then amend the 28 player roster to allow for expansion to 40 men in September, but a manager still may only “dress” 26 for the game itself.
Next time we’ll delve into the DH, teams tanking for draft spots and anything else that rolls around in this otherwise empty mind of mine.