Tinkering with the MLB Postseason Schedule

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I listen to local sports talk radio when I’m driving around town, and recently the host interviewed a writer (I missed his name) for mlb.com discussing the post-season format number of games, how many games each series should be, that sort of thing.  He talked about why the World Series starts on a Wednesday, and how MLB is tied to that start based on the way the scheduling is done.

Which, of course, got me thinking.  Is Baseball really tied to the playoff schedule as currently constructed, with no way to modify?  Could they change the scheduling to get a World Series Game 1 on a Saturday, and a Game 7 on a Sunday?

Current scheduling looks something like this.  The LDS start on a Wednesday/Thursday, and run for a week max (2 games, day off, 3 games).  There’s one scheduled off-day between rounds.  The LCS starts on a Thursday/Friday, and runs for a max of 10 days (2 games, day off, 2 games, day off, game, day off, 2 games). Again, there’s one scheduled off-day before the World Series starts.  The Fall Classic, then, starts on a Wednesday and uses the same 10 day schedule as the LCS.

To modify this schedule and get World Series Game 1 moved to a Sunday, we must shorten the LDS/LCS time frames by 4 days.   Here’s one way to do it:

1. Make each LDS play on the same schedule. Baseball is all about revenue these days, so they try very hard to have a game in prime time every night during the post season.  However, if baseball wants the biggest audiences for their marquee event, they need to make sure Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 are played on the weekend.  By shortening the LDS round from 7 days to 6, they start moving to that format.  Besides, the odd off-day aside, there are 15 games played per day from 1 April to 5 October. Teams get used to playing on consecutive days, why does MLB insist on changing this aspect for the playoffs? Having 4 games a day during the LDS round will bring the playoffs back in line with the regular season.

2. Get rid of the off-days between Games 4 and 5. This is a recent, as in the last few years, development. I think, at this point, even the players and the Commissioner’s office are in favor of losing this off-day.  It disrupts the flow of the series and takes away from the action.  Say a series is tied 2-2.  There’s already enough tension in the series, and everyone knows the winner of Game 5 will be the heavy favorite to win the series (given they have two chances to clinch). Why make the players and the fans wait an extra day to play this crucial game?  Just play.

With these modifications, the LDS starts on a Wednesday and ends on a Monday.  The LCS starts on a Wednesday and ends on a Thursday.  The World Series would then start on a Saturday and end on a Sunday.

MLB isn’t stuck with the schedule as is.  MLB could change the post-season schedule any time they wanted to get the World Series over two weekends.  They just choose not to.

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