September 30, 2022

MLB’s new schedule format will mean longer rain delays

On September 4, the Guardians and Mariners took the field in Cleveland for a game with big playoff implications. By the time the afternoon match was decided, it was just past 11 p.m. Fans who paid for their tickets had to face a rain delay of more than four hours or lose their tickets without recourse. As this was Seattle’s last visit to Cleveland for the season, rescheduling the game would have posed logistical challenges that seemingly outweighed any inconvenience for MLB fans.

MLB fans are once again caught up in economic turmoil

Now for the bad news: we have to get used to it because, with the way next year’s calendar is structured, it’s going to happen a lot more. MLB has decided that each team will play at least one series against each of the other 29 teams. This results in a series against each team in the other league. Guess what happens when it rains in the last game of this series? Teams will do whatever they can to play this game, because finding a way, say, for the Angels to stop in Pittsburgh for a game late in the season for a make-up game isn’t worth it.

Economically, it makes sense for the teams. They’ve already pocketed the ticket revenue, and they can avoid travel expenses by playing the game. Finding a free date usually means a Wednesday afternoon, or some other unattractive date, because all the good dates are already booked. Long days tax relievers, but both teams are equally loaded. If you’re playing the game three months from now, who knows what shape your throw might be in.

The advantage, according to MLB, is that playing with all the teams in the other league prevents certain teams from taking advantage in the wild card race by playing against weaker teams. This is already happening, of course. Seattle is battling for a wildcard spot against teams in the AL East who clash again and again, while the Mariners have spent the better part of the past two months playing the Rangers, Angels and A’s. teams that total eighty games under .500.

A better solution would be less interleague play, not more. Interleague play started out as a novelty, but we’re long past the days when AL Towns fans felt cheated because they never got to see Willie Mays or Hank Aaron play. Anyone with a decent streaming package can see as much of their favorite team or player as they want, and streaming is where MLB expects to see the biggest revenue growth over the course of the season. next decade. At least with streaming you can change channels during a rain delay.

Here’s another thought. At some point there will inevitably be 32 or 36 major league teams. Start trying to create a schedule where all of these teams play each other at least once, and it’s not a stretch to imagine teams from the same league only playing each other once a season. That means sitting still for even longer rain delays.

MLB probably didn’t think that far, because it never does. But even in the short term, they have created a situation where fans will be underserved.


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