Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins Proposes Wild Idea To Shorten Baseball Games In Order To Still Play Full MLB Season
The MLB season has been postponed due to the worldwide pandemic, meaning Opening Day for every team will no longer take place as expected this week. While that’s a bummer for all sports fans, especially those who had tickets to see game one of 162, it’s part of the world we’re living in right now, where everything’s been put on hold as we try to battle this uncharted territory.
Although the MLB season hasn’t been cancelled (thank God), like every other sport, we have no damn clue when to expect baseball to actually begin. Sure, we’re being told it’ll be mid-May, but, given all the uncertainty about the coronavirus, who knows if that’ll actually happen or not? And, considering MLB has the longest season of any of the major pro sports — stretching from February to November and covering at least 162 regular season games — will we get an abbreviated season or the entire thing?
Those are questions for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to answer, and, while he does, he needs to think of unique ways to keep sports fans engaged and entertained without having the product become stale. One way this could happen? Shorter games — something at least one superstar, Joey Votto, has discussed recently.
Another person who’s a proponent of shortening MLB games is Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins, who actually thinks the MLB season (when it starts) should consider playing 7-inning games to still fulfill the full 162-game schedule. It might seem absurd since all baseball games are usually 9 innings, but, hell, if we can extend a game into extra innings, why can’t we decrease the length a little bit for the good of entertainment? Making Atkins’ idea even better? He wants the shorter contests to be part of doubleheaders.
Seven-inning doubleheaders could be a way for big league teams to squeeze more games into a condensed season without exhausting pitching staffs, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins suggests.
Asked what he saw as potential solutions to scheduling issues, Atkins mentioned shorter games in doubleheaders.
“Maybe that’s something we have to consider,” he said on a conference call Wednesday.
By averaging nine games per week, a team could play 162 games in 18 weeks, eight fewer weeks than in a usual season. That means Major League Baseball could start as late as July and play a full schedule by extending the regular season through October.
Still, even Atkins isn’t entirely sold on the idea.
“You’re not playing the game that is written in the rulebooks,” he said. “It’s not the regulation game; it’s a different game. Bullpens and teams are built in a way to play nine innings. I’m sure there are people that would challenge that, and I’m not so sure it’s something we should do.”
Although it seems radical on the surface, college and minor league teams play seven innings in each game of a doubleheader after games need to be rescheduled, so this isn’t uncommon. Plus, as Atkins mentioned above, doing so would completely change the strategy of managers.
Despite the idea, Atkins knows that 7-inning games for an entire MLB season presents challenges. He also knows this is the time for the powers that be come up with unique ways for the game to improve, which is why all ideas should be presented and considered.
“What we need to do is get ideas out where people feel safe mentioning them and then work through what’s practical, what makes sense, what are the downsides — because there’s going to be downsides — and try to weigh those appropriately,” he said. “Get all of those ideas on the table and then sort through the execution of them and think about the unintended consequences and come up with a game plan that we can put in play.”
This would lead to an interesting “7th Inning Stretch” predicament, but, hey, if that’s the biggest problem, then MLB should really consider this. It’s smart, innovative, and could lead to a full season still being played.