Darren Rovell of ESPN reports that, while it’s not on anyone’s agenda at the moment, Commissioner Manfred is not averse to going back to a 154-game season at some point:
“I don’t think length of season is a topic that can’t ever be discussed,” Manfred told ESPN.com. “I don’t think it would be impossible to go back to 154 [games] . . . We already have some of our record books which reflect a 154-game season and obviously some of it reflects a 162-game season,” Manfred said. “So there’s some natural flexibility there. But if anyone suggests to go to something like 110 games, then there’s a real problem. That will throw all our numbers out of whack.”
Something Manfred did not say: how he would convince a supermajority of owners to cut eight games’ worth of ticket and concession sales.
That’s a bit over 6% That’s 4.9% of the season [math is hard]. Figure in a 5% cut in broadcast rights too, as networks who are paying to broadcast a certain number of games likely wouldn’t want to pay quite as much for fewer games. It’s not gigantic in the grand scheme of things, but it is significant. And that’s before what I would assume to be an effort to reduce player salaries by some small percentage as well, about which the union may have something to say. Also: less baseball <<<< more baseball. But perhaps I’m just being selfish about that.
I doubt this ever becomes a serious agenda item. But, like Manfred’s comments about possibly changing the rules to outlaw defensive shifts, these offhand comments will likely lead to a lot of noise and commentary critical of Manfred simply because folks don’t like the idea of changing anything in baseball, whether the ideas are bad, good or neutral.
One thing Bud Selig was pretty good about: not mentioning anything he didn’t truly plan to do and not mentioning anything he planned to do until he was pretty sure he could get it done. Say what you want about old Bud, but that approach worked for him.