Skip to main content

Why is the MLB Season So Long?

A friend of the blog recently posed an interesting question to me: why is the Major League Baseball regular season so long and the post-season so short?

(from flickr user Joe Penniston)

The MLB regular season in 162 games long. There are 30 teams in the league, 8 make the playoffs, in which a maximum of 41 games can be played.

The NBA regular season, by comparison, is 82 games long. There are 30 teams in the league, 16 make the playoffs, in which a maximum of 105 games can occur.

So the ratio of regular season to playoff games in the MLB is (2430 to 41) - 59.3 to 1. The ratio in the NBA is (1230 to 105) - 11.7 to 1. This is a pretty big discrepancy.

Instead of ending the baseball season around October 1st, MLB could end it around early September. This would cut the regular season to about 130-135 games per season. The number of teams allowed into the playoffs could be doubled if the MLB allowed in two 2 teams per division per league and 2 wildcards per league. Additionally, the bogus 5-game first round could be eliminated and all rounds bumped up to 7 (or more) games.

Who would this benefit? I think the most obvious beneficiary would be the teams on the margin that would otherwise not make the playoffs. Fans of teams that don't necessarily win their divisions can still experience playoff excitement. I also think it benefits the most talented teams, since the statistical likelihood of the worst team in the league beating the best team in a short 5 game series is surprisingly high. 7 game series increase the sample size and the probability that the expected outcome (best team wins) will occur.

Who would this hurt? Franchises that never (or almost never) make the playoffs would be hurt, since they would have a couple dozen fewer games to sell tickets to every year. The Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates, for instance, are pretty infamous for rarely making the playoffs. Though this could be resolved if MLB were to establish some sort of playoff revenue sharing agreement between teams.

I'm sure there are other consequences I'm overlooking here. Please let me know who else this might benefit/hurt. Bonus points will go to the person who can best explain why Major League Baseball will probably never adopt this idea.


Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':

Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…