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154-game MLB schedule? It could happen

Major League Baseball logoA 154-game regular-season schedule could be on the agenda for the next round of collective bargaining agreement talks between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association, set for next year.

There are plenty of folks, including many lovers of the game, who argue the current 162-game schedule is too long, that the wear and tear of daily play and travel take too much of a toll on players. Since baseball banned amphetamines, performance on the field has slipped and fewer players are on the field for every game. Dropping eight games from the schedule — allowing for more off days — and going back to the traditional 154-game schedule (last used in 1960) would give players less-demanding travel schedules and a more leisurely approach to the sport. From USA Today:

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Tony Clark, director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, each said Tuesday that the topic would be heavily discussed in negotiations for their next collective bargaining agreement, which expires in December 2016.

“In looking back from the time I played to now that I’m watching what these guys are doing, I don’t know how they do it,” Clark said. “What these guys are being asked to do with respect to games’ start times, with respect to the travel distances themselves, with respect to performing at an elite level with three days off a month, is a challenge.

“I think that’s why as we continue to move forward here, and guys continue to be asked to do more and more, it’s something that we have to look at significantly.

“We’re at a point in time where perhaps there are any number of things that guys are being asked to do that’s directly affecting the way they play. And that’s not beneficial for anybody.”

There are some ramifications to the move: there will be fewer games to broadcast (affecting lucrative regional cable deals) and fewer home dates for owners, affecting gates. Of course, collective bargaining agreement talks cover a wide range of topics, and this will be part of a long list of negotiations. Still, the fact both sides say they’re willing to look at the topic is a big deal.

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