Ever since its beginnings, the professional baseball season has played out like a long, slow marathon. At 162 games it is the longest regular season of any pro sport in the world. But now, with a new schedule due to Covid-19, the league may decide on a permanent change to the schedule, depending on its success.
Major League Baseball first scheduled a season over 100 games long back in 1884, when the league decided on a season that lasted 114 games. Over time, the league would continue to increase its season to over 150 games, which lasted half of the 20th century. Finally, in 1962, the MLB would decide on 162 games, a change that stands to this day.
Now, after the 2020 MLB season's delay, a restructure of the schedule, which decreased the number of games by 102, was put in place by league commissioner, Rob Manfred, on Monday. The reasoning behind the switch was so the playoffs could begin on time in its yearly spot, the month of October.
With the 60 game season being put into play, there are also several other details to note. To decrease a possible spread of the virus, each team will play the majority of their games in the same geographic location. With that being said, there will be more interleague rival games such as, the White Sox against the Cubs, the Mets against the Yankees and the Angels against the Dodgers. This small component in the schedule will no doubt be great for the fans, especially the ones living in their respective team's cities.
Along with a team's six interleague rival games will also be 20 games against their respective divisional rival (NL East/AL East, NL Central/AL Central, NL West/AL West). This format already has fans eyeing some fun matchups in the regular season, like the Nationals/Yankees and the Dodgers/Astros matchups opening week.
While this schedule is temporary due to the circumstances, many are wondering if the league will consider making it a permanent one. For decades, some fans, not all, have complained that the professional baseball season drags on for too long, and is tiring. This is especially controversial around playoff time, during the Wild Card Round, when a team's fate, after playing a grueling schedule the whole year, is decided in a one-game wild card to decide their place in the postseason.
If there is a permanent change to the schedule, I believe that more fans will be drawn to baseball again. Ratings have been down, even during the World Series. In 2019, TV ratings for the World Series were the third lowest since the ratings were first recorded in 1973. In 2018, they were the fifth lowest. Complaints by younger generations that the game moves too slow and the season is too long could soon vanish if the league makes its changes.
Perhaps the virus' impact on baseball's schedule could be a good thing, but only time will tell.