Major League Baseball (MLB) made it official this week: Barring terrible weather, the World Series will not end in November.
MLB has released its postseason schedule, and the big news therein was the elimination of off-days between two games in the same city. All scheduled off-days will be for travel purposes only (i.e. between Games 2 and 3 and Games 4 and 5 of a best-of-five-series and between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6 of a best-of-seven series).
The American League Division Series will begin Friday, September 30, two days after the end of the regular season. The National League Division Series will begin Saturday, October 1. The American League Championship Series will begin Saturday, October 8, followed by the start of the National League Championship Series a day later. The World Series is scheduled to begin Wednesday, October 19 and Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for Thursday, October 27.
That’s quite a change from just last year, when Game 1 of the World Series was played on…Wednesday, October 27. Even with the San Francisco Giants disposing of the Texas Rangers in five games, the last pitch of the season wasn’t thrown until late on Monday, November 1. It marked the second straight year the World Series ended in November.
Jake Conaway of Wanamaker Ticket Service in Philadelphia — where the Phillies have the best record in baseball and are bound for the playoffs for a fifth straight season — believes the more consistent playoff schedule will be good for business for ticket brokers, who will have an easier time luring out-of-town fans when those fans don’t have to worry about spending an extra day in the city when there is no game being played, as well as the game itself.
“I personally think it’ll keep more people involved,” Conaway told TicketNews. “I think when there’s separation like that, some people — not saying they lose sight of it, but I think it’ll keep people’s attention more focused on baseball because there won’t be a breather and it’ll be all baseball all the time.
“I love it. I think people from out of town will be able to plan more accordingly and stay in town two [or three] nights rather than stay three [or four] more nights. I think it would definitely lure more fans into it.”
The continuity does bring with it a challenge, though: Less time to sell tickets and less time to capitalize on any momentum generated by a team during the series. In 2007, for example, the Cleveland Indians took a three-games-to-one lead on the Boston Red Sox but had to wait two days to play Game 5.
The off-day was good news for ticket brokers tapping into the desire of championship-starved Indians fans eager for a chance to see their team finally win the pennant. Of course, it turned out to be bad news for the Indians: The Red Sox won Game 5, as well as Games 6 and 7, before sweeping the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.
“In our business, you have to be very, very prepared and be very diligent in moving the inventory because you’re going to have less time to sell the tickets,” Conaway said. “God forbid the Phillies went down 2-0 and then went back out to wherever they play [and] win two games [to force a trip back to Philadelphia]. That’ll be a beast. I think there’s some drawbacks in terms of having to plan more accordingly and obviously using the different strategy, but overall I think it’s a win-win.”
Major League Baseball had the end of the season, and ending it before November, in mind when it opened the regular season on Thursday, March 31 and scheduled it to conclude on Wednesday, September 28 — the first time the season hasn’t ended on a Sunday since 1990.