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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Too many exhibition games on TV?

The regular season does not start for more than a week but I already feel as though there have been too many meaningless games on the MLB Network.  I don't actually watch them.  I don't even monitor the games.  Occasionally they provide background images.  I might even listen to some comments by the announcers.

The regular season has 162 games, pretty much all played one per day.  If there are any doubleheaders scheduled, they are very few.  Sunday doubleheaders were common when I was a boy, plus holiday doubleheaders: Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), Labor Day.  Then came twinight doubleheaders, generally starting around 5:00 PM on a Tuesday or Friday.  Then doubleheaders were gone.  By the early 1980s.  Coincident with that was a reduction in pitcher starts and innings.

March 31, 2014 the Cubs played the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the first regular season game for each team.  In 2015 the Cubs play the first game, hosting the Cardinals Easter Sunday night April 5.  Then the next day the other teams start playing.

April 11, 1962 was the day of the first game played by the expansion New York Mets.  It was the first season that the National League played a 162 game regular season schedule.  Before modern expansion, which started in the American League in 1961, teams generally played a 154 game schedule from 1903 through 1960.

Doubleheaders allowed the teams to continue starting the season in the second week in April.  Then division play started in 1969 with a preliminary round of games before the World Series; initially the preliminary round was best of 5, then best of 7 starting in 1985.  As doubleheaders faded in the 1980s, more days were needed for the regular season.  Then starting in 1995, two preliminary rounds of games were played before the World Series.  Then a couple of years ago a do-or-die wild card playoff game was added.

It's my understanding that a possible seventh game of the 2015 tournament finals would be played on Sunday night November 1.  The fifth and final game of the 1961 World Series was played Monday afternoon October 9 at Crosley Field Cincinnati.

So with the regular season and tournament stretching the limits of a reasonable baseball calendar, how wise is it to also flood American television screens with exhibition games, many with split squads and minor league players most fans have never heard of?  Is this preparation of fans to be bored during the regular season?  Is this fan spring training?

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