Major league season limps toward playoffs

Bryce Bencivengo

The race for October has become the race for October and early November.

Opening day in the Major Leagues was April 5 and the calendar is creeping into October, still in the regular season. Major League Baseball’s marathon 162-game schedule is not only unnecessary, it serves no purpose other than to make money for the organizations themselves.

The 162-game schedule that MLB subjects its players to is unhealthy for all involved. Players are constantly going on the disabled list with strains and muscle pulls that with a few less games and a few more days off, could be easily avoided.

In fact, the major league season used to be significantly shorter. In 1995, the league added a round to the playoffs lengthening the season. Before that, the season was lengthened to 162 games in the early 1960s.

Many baseball owners as well as MLB executives have argued that the long season allows for players that would normally be lost for the season to big injuries can return later in the year because of the long season.

In the case of Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, he was able to take a long hiatus from the game and return towards the end of this season. This can be cited as an example for the benefits of a long season, if you ignore the fact that his prolonged stint on the disabled list was due to arm fatigue.

These long-term injuries that players suffer are often the effects of the extended six-month season.

The 2009 season opened spring training in February, with the first games being held on April 25. This means that two teams this season will play baseball from that date until early November in the World Series. Baseball season takes up nearly eight months and the fact is there is little to be garnered from such a long season.

This year, by the second to last weekend of the season the average division lead is almost seven games, leaving little suspense to who will be in the playoffs nearly two full weeks before the regular season concludes. Large leads at the end of the season are by far more the norm for baseball.

In fact, only eight times in Major League history has there been a tie on the last game of the season resulting in a one-game playoff. Although two have happened in the previous two seasons, you would have to go back ten years to find another occurrence.

Major League Baseball needs to ignore the dollar signs attached to a 162-game schedule and think of what is best for the fans and players. What’s best for everyone is a season with an exciting race to the finish and a season that doesn’t put the health of players in jeopardy.

The Hilltop Views’ column, ‘Bench Warming,’ appears every other week in the sports section and is written by Co-Editor-In-Chief Bryce Bencivengo.