SCREAMIN’ FROM THE CHEAP SEATS – FEBRUARY 19
By Leo Haggerty
MLB MUST LEARN FROM THIS
The National Hockey League is having a devil of a time trying to get games played on time. Not only has the NHL had to deal with pandemic protocols but also a “once a century” winter storm that forced postponements of games, not in Canada as one would expect, but in of all places Dallas in Texas.
Now, why does Major League Baseball have to take notice as to what the NHL is doing to reschedule games, you ask? Read on, my loyal followers, and I will enlighten you.
The NHL had two problems they had to reconcile before they could even envision a 2020-21 season. The first was the Canadian government.
Canada had put into place a law that, if you came to any location in Canada, you must quarantine for 14 days whether you have coronavirus symptoms or not. That eliminated all seven Canadian teams (Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton) from travelling to the United States as well as hosting any teams from south of the border.
So, what did the NHL do? They created a new conference format with all of the Canadian teams comprising the new North Division. What a novel thought, right?
That solved the first problem. Now the second problem is what to do with the remaining 24 American organizations.
What the NHL did was come up with a masterful plan of action. They divided those remaining teams into three divisions (East and Central and West) of eight teams each.
You are probably asking your why was that such a smart idea? It’s what the NHL did once those divisions were formed that was brilliant.
The first thing the league did was only scheduled games within the division for two reasons. That would cut down on travel so teams will only be exposed to seven different venues and, in Canada, six different cities.
The second stupendous brainstorm by the NHL was to schedule two games, and sometimes three, against the same team in the same city. That further cut down on travel so not only was exposure to Covid reduced but the number of trips was also lowered substantially saving an enormous amount of money.
Let’s see how this is working out so far, shall we? In the North, Vancouver leads the way with 19 games played and Montreal brings up the rear with 15 completed contests. In the Central, Chicago and Detroit have 19 games in the books with Dallas (no surprise here when the city didn’t have power for almost four days) at the back end with 12 games completed. In the East, the New York Islanders lead the way with 16 and New Jersey in the back with 11. In the West, St. Louis tops the chart with 17 games played with Minnesota and Colorado in the back of the pack with 13 tilts played. Not a bad track record if I do say so myself.
The NHL needs to be commended for realizing that games, inevitably, would have to be postponed and the foresight for having a plan in place to deal with that contingency. Now, when games have to be rescheduled, it only effects the seven or eight teams in a division and not all 31 organizations.
With all that being said, a memo to MLB on what they need to do. First, create three clusters of 10 teams each. Second, only play the nine teams in their cluster 18 times. There’s your 162 game schedule.
Why such a drastic change? As the NHL has already shown, it would be easier for MLB to reschedule games that effect 10 teams rather than all 30 franchises.
Do I expect MLB to do this? No because it’s, as Mr. Spock would say, logical and makes sense.
Am I hammering MLB unnecessarily? Not a chance because when’s the last time Major League Baseball did anything that made logical sense. I hope I’m wrong but I rest my case.