Mike Scioscia suggests having fewer regular-season games and more playoff games
Mike Scioscia is a strong proponent of expanding the first round of the playoffs from five to seven games and of finishing the World Series in October, when there is a better chance of decent weather in the Northeast and Midwest compared with early November, when the World Series is now scheduled to end.
But the only way to do that is to condense the 162-game regular-season schedule so that the postseason can start around Oct. 1, and that could be accomplished with teams playing a handful of doubleheaders throughout the year.
But on Sunday, the Angels manager proposed something a little more radical: reducing the number of regular-season games, not necessarily to the pre-expansion, 154-game schedule teams played before 1961, but perhaps something in the 158-game range.
"If you went to 154 games, you would lose a lot of gate revenue," Scioscia said, noting that teams are financially affected by losing dates on the schedule and not necessarily games.
"But if you blend it, where you cut down some games and some dates to minimize the impact, you could tighten the schedule by a week to 10 days to accommodate an expanded division series and get the World Series done in October."
As a member of Commissioner Bud Selig's 14-member special committee to review and examine all on-field related issues, Scioscia has more power than most to enact change in the game.
He was an outspoken critic of a playoff format in which the Angels had more off days than game days during their run to the American League championship series last October. That subject was addressed by the committee, which was formed last December, and baseball responded by adopting the committee's recommendation to tighten up the post-season by eliminating several off days.
Teams can reduce dates and maintain gate revenue by playing day-night doubleheaders, where the stadium is cleared after the first game and re-opened for the nightcap that begins several hours after the first game ends.
A regular doubleheader, in which the second game starts about a half hour after the first one ends, allows fans to get two games for the price of one, but the home team loses a game's worth of gate revenue, which would be significant for a team like the Angels, which averages about 40,000 fans a game.
"From an ownership perspective, when you lose a date, you lose revenue," Scioscia said. "A split doubleheader doesn't hurt revenue, but it's really tough on the players. I'm fine with regular doubleheaders, but not split doubleheaders."
-- Mike DiGiovanna