Just randomly looking at the schedule and realizing that if the Indians win today they’ll have six full days off before they play again, in Game 1 of the World Series. And, it should be noted, will have secured that World Series spot before NLCS Game 3 even got underway, because of how the schedule worked out.
Meanwhile, if either the Cubs or Dodgers run the table in the next three games we’ll all have four full days without any baseball at all. All of this is because the World Series is pegged to a set start date — next Tuesday, October 25 — and not for “X days after the teams are decided.”
There are pros and cons to this sort of scheduling. It allows for better planning, obviously. No large sporting event is just about the teams playing in it anymore. There are sponsors and broadcasting partners and various and sundry promotional concerns, and it’s simply easier for Major League Baseball and all of its various stakeholders to plan around a date certain than to gear up five minutes after the final out in the deciding NLCS game, which could be Thursday afternoon.
There’s also the fact that Major League Baseball does not like beginning the World Series on the weekend, where it will be overshadowed by football. And heck, the NLCS could go until Sunday as it is, making the Tuesday start of the World Series sensible for both baseball and planning purposes. Still, if the Indians do what seems inevitable and either the Cubs or Dodgers get hot, we could have a lot of time on our hands before the Fall Classic gets going.
Most people believe that the long layoff hurts a team before the World Series, but that’s not necessarily born out in the numbers. As AJ Cassavell of MLB.com noted last year, there have been sixteen teams who have been forced to sit for five days or more after winning the LCS. Eight of those clubs went on to win the World Series, eight went on to lose (Cassavell noted 15/8/7, but the Mets added one to the loss column after he wrote his article). When the club which has sat for a while loses, rust is cited. When they win, rest is cited. It seems like a textbook exercise in post-hoc reasoning.
I think if I’m the Indians, I’d want the rest. They have Corey Kluber going on short rest today as it is, Trevor Bauer could use some time for his finger to heal and, at some point, Andrew Miller could use a day off. They’ll still remember how to play baseball after a week off, methinks. The NLCS winner will likely enjoy some rest as well, especially if it’s the Dodgers, who have been riding a couple of their horses particularly hard thus far.
So, if the league likes it and the sponsors like it and the TV people like it and the clubs like it, the only ones who lose with a long layoff are the fans. We’ll have to resort to reading books or visiting with our families or something. It’s a downright tragedy when you think about it.