Major League Baseball and its players union continue to negotiate in pursuit of an agreement that will allow them to get a season started. The latest offer submitted by the league outlines a plan for seventy-six games, but the reality of a fifty game season looms larger with each passing day. Although the players had expressed interest in playing north of one hundred games, the league and its owners are determined to not let the season leak too far into November.
A meaningful 2020 season is seemingly a pipe-dream now as an asterisk will follow whatever team takes home the Commissioner’s Trophy, but that doesn't mean that the season would be a wash for baseball from a marketability standpoint.
The key to making this season special, for players and fans, would be to incorporate an All-Star game into World Series week. Yes, I know that’s not how we usually do it in baseball. But there’s just nothing normal about 2020, so why not shake things up?
A fast paced race to October spanning only seventy games could make for some exciting baseball, even if it’s a far cry from the 162 game marathon that fans usually enjoy. Teams that typically would be have been expected to be bottom feeders this season could get off to a hot start and look to ride it into October. Teams that were locks for October will be forced to get and stay hot early as the margin for error is slimmer than ever. It could certainly be an exciting season.
But, as the 2020 season will be forever viewed differently through the eyes of fans and players alike, the success of baseball in 2020 could reside in the way the league decides to schedule the always popular All-Star festivities.
There is a belief that baseball should schedule the All-Star festivities at the end of the shortened season rather than in the middle, ahead of the World Series. Such an idea is intriguing and could prove to be the saving grace for a tainted season.
Imagine Pro Bowl Weekend, but with the red carpet event, All-Star game, homerun derby, and the futures game spread over the course of a week. By scheduling the festivities just ahead of the World Series, Major League Baseball could dominate the news cycle and national television for up to two weeks just as the NFL does prior to the Super Bowl.
Even more intriguing, would be to host both the All-Star festivities and the World Series in the same city. While home field advantage is a highly sought after commodity in the World Series, why not shake things up in a season that will already look vastly different than seasons prior?
This would allow for the game’s biggest stars all to be in one place for baseball’s biggest series. Baseball, a sport that largely struggles with the marketability of its players, would be able to market its biggest names for nearly two straight weeks in one place, a baseball hub of sorts.
Imagine Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and others all taking turns in the booth as commentators throughout the World Series. Imagine having the best and the brightest stars in one place for the entirety of the Fall Classic for fan events, photo-ops, Q and A sessions, and so much more... It would be a slam dunk for a sport that struggles immensely to market its best assets.
As negotiations drag on and fans become increasingly frustrated and possibly alienated from the sport, the ability to dominate the national stage with the games best could prove invaluable for the league.
How would it work?
Last season, the World Series spanned nine days, October 22nd throughout the 30th. Let’s say the dates are similar this season. Here is how a mega baseball week could look:
10/22 (Thursday): All-Star Red Carpet Night
10/23: Homerun Derby
10/24: All-Star Game
10/25: Futures Game
10/26: World Series Game 1
11/4: *World Series Game 7
*If the series goes the distance and takes nine days to complete, the league would have secured two weeks worth of headlines and television ratings.
A mega-week of baseball centric activities leading to the beginning of the World Series dominated by the game’s stars seems to be the best opportunity to create a meaningful ending to an otherwise strange season.
It is a win-win for both the league and its players.