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What the new MLB schedule could mean for MLB’s future


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Yesterday, Major League Baseball released its 2023 fixtures. The biggest news to come from the release is that for the first time, all 30 teams will play against each other in a single season.

In order for MLB to be able to adapt to such a drastic change, split matches will be reduced from 76 to 52, meaning each team will only play each of their squad’s opponents 13 times throughout the year. . They will play more internallyleague games than squad games in 2023. Damn, they’ll be playing almost as many interleaved games. While I think there are some benefits to this decision – namely giving every fan a chance to see all of the game’s brightest young stars each season – there are some potential downsides. hidden that I can’t ignore.

Divisions and conferences are becoming more distant, distant, less important than ever with this change.

What I’m about to say is probably an overreaction. I understand that. Just because MLB is working hard to have every team play every other team every year, that doesn’t mean the split isn’t immediately important. However, I am concerned about the future of baseball and what it means for age-old competitions.

Think about the other pro sports leagues to have every team play every other team over the course of a season. NHL introduced this concept in 2008. Since then, parts of the league, the convention, the playoff format, and everything in between have all undergone serious changes. It becomes difficult for casual fans to keep up. NBA always has every team to face every other opponents, and now, the question of whether the NBA should get rid of divisions and conventions entirely has become an annual theme. How many times, in 2021 alone, have we heard an analyst or a fan base argue in favor of a 16-team knockout regardless of division or conference?

The problem is like this. While that schedule might be suitable for the NHL and NBA due to having many of the oldest opponents in those sports – the Lakers-Celtics, Avs-Red Wings, Warriors-Cavs, Lakers-76ers, etc. between departments and even conferences. That is not the case with baseball. The Yankees-Red Sox remains one of the most marketable competitors in all of sports. Giants-Dodgers, Padres-Dodgers, Braves-Mets, Mets-Phillies, Brewers-Cubs, Cubs-Cardinals, are all rival giants. The only big opponents I can think of in those long tournaments are the Astros-Dodgers, Cubs-White Sox, and Yankees-Mets, and two of them just because they share the same city. I know there are other intertwined competitors that exist like the A’s-Giants, the Yankees-Dodgers, the Cardinals-Royals, but those are not nearly as marketable as the major players in baseball, and we’ll soon fewer of those major divisional opponents with this new schedule.

Given what we’ve seen from the NBA and NHL since they started letting every team play against each other every year, I see it as likely MLB will follow suit in limiting the impact of the split if they keep their style. this schedule for many years. . The federation claims it is doing so in the name of “balance, because playing in Eastern AL is much more difficult and strenuous than playing in Central AL. However, most of the time, the difficulty of the parts alternates. In 2018, NL Central had four teams that finished over 500. Now, in 2022, they have three teams with a win percentage of less than 0.450. In 2017, NL East had only one team over 500, now they have three. Sure, AL East has always been super competitive, which is very appealing to the small Baltimore and Tampa Bay markets, but hey, they managed to stay competitive in 2022 and got in. World Series more times than the Yankees since 2005. Baltimore has never experienced that level of success, but they’ve grown in 2022 and are up 48-25 since Adley Rutschman was called up to the top prospect list. head. That’s good for a 94-win season over the course of a year and they will likely only get better in 2023 and beyond.

I think this new schedule is a slippery slope. When a year comes where a division struggles to produce 85-game winners, like the San Diego Padres in 2005, who won their division with just 82 wins, or the Mets in 1973 did as well. So, there will be whispers about their exclusion from the playoffs entirely. Padres 2005 was finally caught up in the NLDS. Sure, the 2006 Cardinals won the World Series after leading 83-79, but that was an exception and likely won’t happen again for a very long time.

Call me a head of change if that’s what you want, but baseball has taken a toll on viewers in recent years, and promoting rivals is arguably its biggest marketing success. of the tournament. They won’t get the chance to push those competitive games nearly as often into 2023 and beyond. While it would be great for Marlins fans to see Shohei Ohtani more often, the angels celebrate the Marlins festival in 2023which means fans in Miami still won’t be able to see Ohtani play next season.

I don’t think we are moving away from a future where divisions and conventions are completely eliminated. While I believe that MLB will do its best to keep its long-standing rivals intact, the reality is that Teams that are in the same division have no lasting reason as to why those teams need to face each other multiple times in the future. If anything, having those teams in the same division was used as a framing device to schedule more head-to-head matches. However, if the league is determined to establish a “balanced” schedule, the next logical step would be for every team to play every other team the same number of times. Depending on MLB’s commercial success over the next few years with these schedule changes, I think we could see that materialize for at least another 20 years.

Am I overreacting? Maybe. Will MLB ever come close to eliminating divisions and conferences? Sure is not. However, I am a pessimist, and always look to the worst case scenario, and I don’t know how to feel about this potential future.



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