We all know that the Major League Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. What any new proposal to salvage the 2020 year suggests, however, is that it can't be, so let's try a shorter race. The proposed 82-game season beginning in early July needs to be green-lit in the next few days to be a reality. Considering the wide gulf between players and ownership, that feels unlikely.
But all is not yet lost. Tim Kurkjian, appearing on ESPN's KBO coverage this morning, spoke of chatter around a 60-game regular season, followed by expanded playoffs. Of course, this isn't a new idea and was roundly dismissed as too truncated by detractors back in March. Desperate times call for desperate measures, though, and any baseball will be better than no baseball, so public perception is bound to move toward a friendlier position.
A mad two-month dash to the playoffs would be incredible drama. Every game would take on revolutionary new meaning, making the sport feel like something totally different. Scoreboard-watching would begin on Day 1 and the excitement would be ramped up out of the gates.
There are a fair amount of reasonable arguments to be made that such a small sample size would lead to capricious and arbitrary postseason participation. One of the reasons to have a 162-game year is to ensure that the best teams prove themselves over a six-month period. There will surely be discussion over the necessity of an asterisk for the eventual champion.
Sitting where we are right now, I think I speak for all of us in saying that would be a great and inane argument to have because it would mean we had a Major League Baseball season. Before we give this whole endeavor an open-mouthed kiss, though, let's consider a rather unpleasant and slightly sneaky reason for adding games to the postseason instead of the regular season.
Fewer games for all could translate into a better bargaining position for ownership. Why pay full salaries or half salaries for 37 percent of the games? Why not use the postseason players' pool to address compensation? Who loses -- except for the players who don't make the playoffs?
With this and the integrity of the season as a whole in mind, it seems prudent to maximize the amount of regular season contests as opposed to adding to the playoffs.
Again, there is a mountain of oddly stacked obstacles to climb in order to make this decision even a luxury. A 60 or --gasp -- even shorter game slate could prove to be the only workable solution. May as well get used to the idea of baseball feeling like something totally new and different to be appreciated for its uniqueness. Any other approach is destined to end in frustration.