Welcome to Deep Into Sports!Wednesday, October 29, 2008 17:29
Welcome to Deep Into Sports, where we strive to “go deep” into sports. Perhaps it’s appropriate that our very first article occurs during one of those rare times in which all four major American professional sports leagues are playing meaningful–i.e. non pre-season–games: MLB is playing the World Series, the NBA literally just started its regular season last night, the NHL has played only a few weeks, and the NFL (which, alas, does not play today because I am writing mid-week) is smack in the middle of its season.
Although in the past such concurrences of sporting activity have been quite seldom (the end of the baseball season usually only overlaps the NBA’s pre-season), the continual extension of major league schedules means we might see such situations significantly more frequently. As little as fifteen or twenty years ago, November baseball was a completely foreign concept; now, it is a reality, albeit an uncommon one, what with the addition of the Divisional Series round and the dangers of late year weather. At the same time, the NFL is reportedly seriously considering dropping two pre-season games in lieu of extending the regular season to eighteen games.
The most important question, of course, is what does drawing out the season do to the end product? In MLB’s case, it can be quite detrimental as exhibited by the multi-day rain delay in Philadelphia of Game 5 of this year’s Fall Classic. I have never seen baseball played in such terrible conditions like it was during the first half of Game 5 on Monday. The game play itself can do nothing but suffer. This is not a criticism of the Divisional Series, which undoubtedly have added a lot of excitement to the post-season–just how a criticism of how late into the year baseball is now played.
As for football, the NFL has been criticized for many years that the four-game pre-season is simply too long, largely because far too many players, stars included, end up injured in meaningless games. Rather than give up the money of additional ticket sales and television broadcasts by dropping the games altogether, the league is debating whether to make two of those games “meaningful” (which would, in turn, generate even more revenue). Considering the injury attrition on team rosters due to the pre-season games, this proposal is probably better for the game than the current situation.
Whether it would be better still to drop two those two pre-season games altogether, with no regular season replacements, is an option that we almost definitely will never see. There’s no money in it.
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