Shortly after the recent World Series came to a close, a family member sent me an article about the event’s ever-declining ratings. While the easy answer is that Arlington & Phoenix were not large markets for the Fall Classic, I puzzled over it further—especially considering baseball’s overall attendance boost this past season. Why does the World Series—or even just playoff baseball in general—have seemingly a lower “Q-rating” than ever before?
I think a big part of the viewership sag has to do with the now-expanded playoff format (which isn’t shrinking anytime soon). Though always measured on an NFL-sized yardstick, baseball’s day-in/day-out existence lends itself to more regional fandom. As such, unless the home team you root, root, root for advances deep into the playoffs, an entire month of “cheering for strangers” may be hard to justify.
Not only that, but from a paying-customer perspective there are the dropping October—potentially November—temperatures to contend with. I do not believe our Minnesota Twins sold out every home playoff game, and I can genuinely tell you that a factor in me not attending was high temps in the mid-40s. I simply do not enjoy being immobile for 3+ hours in those conditions.
Also, from an aesthetic perspective it seems ridiculous that parents must choose between watching a World Series game or taking the youngsters trick-r-treating. If baseball can’t be wrapped up before the costumes and masks come out, something is wrong.
Keeping all that in mind, I’d like to propose a plan for a shortened MLB regular season...
Zach’s Calendar Chop
- The season begins on the first weekend of April—none of this late March stuff. Fans would know that year-in, year-out April = baseball!
- The season plays out as usual April through August.
- Labor Day weekend marks the end of the regular season—a three-day extravaganza of baseball madness (especially right before the NFL kicks off the next weekend)!
- Start the current playoff format the Wednesday after Labor Day weekend and see it finish up October 10 or thereabouts.
Multiple avians would be felled by a single stone with that plan: One less month of NFL-conflict, better weather, and no spooky season conflicts.
As a baseball die-hard, I realize it doesn’t seem right to be arguing for less baseball—but I can honestly say I’d be for it. If the past three decades of performance-enhancement and analytics have shown us anything, it is that comparisons to the past are now largely foolhardy. Many—dare I say most—of the 162-game season records are unbreakable or close to it, rendering that once-sacrosanct number more fallible. I’d be fine with closer to 130.
Plus, there is the matter of the dwindling attention span or focus in this digital age. Taking a cue from the cinema—with events like Barbenheimer & Taylor Swift’s Eras concert triumphing over a slow-and-steady approach—might pay dividends for MLB.
Would you be in favor of a shorter regular season?
This poll is closed
Absolutely NOT—give me 162 or give me death!
Yes—let’s get Zach’s plan in front of Commissioner Manfred stat!
Yes—but I’ll drop my own plan in the comments!