The 2020 Micro-Season

What’s the least amount of baseball that would be worth playing before the powers that be simply cancel the entire season? Here’s a proposal for a Micro-Season.

(Disclaimer: this is not a prediction that a micro-season is the most likely scenario.)

Micro-Season: Everybody into the pool

At the amateur level, pool play is used to handle large numbers of teams over a 2 or 3 day period. Teams are put into “pools” and play the other teams in their pool in a fixed schedule, then are seeded into a tournament based on the results. (We would call this tournament: “playoffs.”) My proposal would be to use pool play to have a 30 – 40 game “regular” season, followed by playoffs and a “World Series.”

The first problem is how to define the pools?
1. it could be totally randomized regardless of league or division
2. it could be organized geographically
3. we could just use the existing divisions
4. your idea here_________

The simplest thing to do is just use the existing divisions, but there’s a complication. There are 5 teams in each of the 6 divisions, so if we are only playing teams in our pool, then there is an odd team out at all times. We don’t by definition have time for a lot of off days. One solution: eliminate a division. (Sorry AL Central.) By randomly distributing the 3 AL Central teams in the Central time zone to the AL West, NL West, and NL Central, and the 2 AL Central teams in the Eastern time zone to the AL East and the NL East, we now have 5 pools of 6 teams each.

Now I propose that each team play the other 5 teams in their pool in home and away 3 game sets. That gives each team a regular season of 30 games. If there were time, 4 game sets home and away would give us 40 games, but 30 is the minimum I see plausible for an actual regular season to happen.

Micro Season: Month to be determined Madness

Conceding that I have just hand-waved away an entire Major League division, the playoffs are where it really gets complicated. How do we make the “regular season” mean something, while still recognizing the unfairness of eliminating teams after 30 games? 30 teams is a terrible number for a tournament, but here goes.

Trying to maintain League integrity is impractical at this point. All 30 teams are seeded after the regular season based on record, and undoubtedly a number of tiebreakers, which could include record on the road, runs allowed, runs scored – all the way down to coin-tosses if necessary. There will then be a 16 team tournament with 4 rounds – all best of 7, for fairness and money. If starting late enough, the playoffs could be held at neutral domes or warm weather sites.

In my proposal, the top 2 teams in each pool are automatically in the final 16. That gives us 10 teams. The last 6 spots will be filled by one-game March Madness style death matches among the remaining 20 teams. I propose that the bottom 16 teams play 8 games over 2 days, let’s say 4 on Thursday and 4 on Friday. The 8 winners from Thursday and Friday join teams 11 – 14 to give us 12 teams, meaning 6 more one-game matches, 3 on Saturday, and 3 on Sunday. The 6 winners then join the final 10. Now we have our 16 teams.

What do you think? What complications am I overlooking? Would this be worth doing, or would you cancel the season?

Thanks for reading on our Micro-Season idea. If you enjoyed this piece, compare it to this one and let us know which one you prefer!

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

10 thoughts on “The 2020 Micro-Season”

  1. Couple-few people on the Twitter machine talking about the season being cancelled. Was there someone credible talking about this or is Twitter being Twitter? It’s hard to tell sometimes.

  2. There are a lot of best case and worst case scenarios floating around Twitter regarding all kinds of related topics. I’d be very surprised if the powers that be were to cancel the season one day sooner than it absolutely had to be. I don’t see that day coming in March.

  3. Gotcha. I didn’t know if I had missed something.

    Lots of creative ways of doing a shorter season, and this is a good one.

  4. Two leagues of three divisions has been awkward from the getgo. I understand increasing roster size to 26, but why we haven’t already added two teams and split them into four leagues of eight each baffles me. Fifty-two more major league jobs would seem to be something the MLBPA would want, and scheduling options for regular season and playoffs would abound. Just saying.

    I doubt we see baseball in 2020. It would please me, but life does not always consider my preferences; and the option is unappealing. I did appreciate the thought involved and wish my math were strong enough to play. I am enjoying reading what you people come up with, so give it heck.

  5. Thanks guys.

    I read somewhere a theory that expansion would look more attractive now as a way for the current owners to replace some of their lost revenue. And 32 teams makes a lot of sense.

  6. I think the idea of a short regular season followed by a tournament could make sense. The World Baseball Classic schedule is the closest we’ve got to something like this. And because it’s baseball, it might be something you could get buy-in for, on a very short time horizon.

    In the 2017 WBC, they had sixteen teams split into four pools, with the first two rounds as round-robin and the last two rounds as single-elimination. Each team played three games in the first round (six games overall per pool), and three games in the second round; the winning USA team played just eight games total. So by expanding the initial round-robin “regular season” stages, you could set the stage for some seven-game “playoff” series that felt both more meaningful and more like real baseball.

  7. These sound like methods to salvage a baseball “season” , but it won’t be a baseball season. One of the most important aspects of MLB is that the season is a grind. The teams that win the regular season have survived that grind. The tournaments being suggested are entertaining alternatives to allow fans to enjoy some baseball games, but in no way should the winner of this tournament be considered NL, AL pennant winners, or MLB Champion.

  8. What’s financially more advantageous for the owners: waiting to start the season when things are completely sanguine, or starting the season when you might only draw 5-10K a night but be the only sports on television?

  9. I think it’s quite possible we’ll see some empty-stadium games this year, and if I were MLB, I’d do that in a heartbeat rather than cancel the season.

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