Monday, October 26, 2015

A comment on postseason scheduling

We went the weekend without baseball. The Mets wrapped up their sweep of the Cubs on Wednesday, and the Royals polished off the Blue Jays on Friday, but the World Series can't begin until Tuesday. Fox is paying big bucks to decide on what days they inflict Harold Reynolds on the public..

And, of course, even once the Series gets started, there are off days mixed in. Two games in Kansas City, an off day, three games as necessary in New York, and if the series has to return to K.C., another offday.

The schedule affects the outcome. The Mets will have been sitting around almost a week, and that's not normal in baseball. It's plausible, if unprovable, that disrupting the daily rhythm of the games more than outweighs the advantage of being able to reset the pitching rotation.

There was a time, long ago -- longer ago than I was around -- when the Series didn't necessarily involve the "travel days" in the middle. Back in an era when television didn't call the shots, the schedule was set according to the actual travel needs of the teams. For example: the 1926 World Series, in which the teams shifted by train between New York and St. Louis, had the now conventional setup with a day of travel between Games Two and Three and Games Five and Six.
The various "Subway Series" of the 1950s, on the other hand, when the teams never left New York City, were played on consecutive days.

Teams aren't wedded to rail to get from city to city now. Teams in the regular season routinely play games in the Central Time Zone today and Eastern Time Zone tomorrow. The travel days aren't genuinely for travel; they're for the network schedulers. The days off probably are good for the players, who get a chance to rest, but they also push the games deeper into the calendar, when the weather gets increasingly dicey.

The most offdays there are, the better it is for the team with thinner pitching. The 2009 Yankees were a truly outstanding team -- they won 103 games in the regular season -- but because they were gifted with a postseason schedule loaded with off days, Joe Girardi was able get through all three rounds with just three starting pitchers.

I'm not claiming that the delay in getting the Series started works in one particular team's favor. I am saying that it matters, and the delay has nothing to do with the practicalities of playing the games.

1 comment:

  1. Due the heavy schedule from HS games to the end of Monday night, I understand MLB wishing to showcase the Word Series without so many other sporting events to conflict with.