Let’s get some things out of the way. I am an unapologetic baseball fan. I don’t need a reason to go to a game, just a ticket. Because of that I hear a lot, that “The season is soooo long” or “why do they have to play 162 times?” My first reply wants to be, “Because they do and it’s beautiful!” but I don’t think that would go over well. So if you really want to know why they play 162, follow along for a minute or two.
Now for the sake of the argument, I am not looking at what bad teams did vs other bad teams. I will concede that those game don’t matter. It takes us about half of the season to figure out who the bad teams are, so the 162 is still needed, but a July series with the two worst teams in baseball really could be skipped.
Second, I am not looking at division winners at all. They won their division out right. No one complains about going to winning games. We like those. We want more of those overall. My counterpoint is, they have to beat someone. That someone may just be a bad team.
What I am looking at is playoff contenders vs either bad teams (well below .500) or division foes where they play 19 times a year. Every single one of these games matter, a lot. And because they matter a lot, they need to play, a lot. So here we go.
As of the writing of this article, The Cleveland Indians are four games back of the twins for the Central division, and half a game back of a wild card spot. Why are they there? Losing 9 games to the Chicago White Sox. Chicago is bad. Not the worst in the AL, but bad. The wins over the Tribe account for thirteen percent of their season total. In comparison, the same 9 wins for Cleveland are just nine percent of the year. Take care of business in the division vs a bad team just 3 times more and you go from outside looking in, to sitting in the top spot.
The Oakland A’s have been a little surprise this season for most of the Rangers fans I know. They are in that top wild card spot by a half game. If only they had not gone 0-6 vs the Toronto Blue Jays. Even losing both series 2-1 would put them up two and a half games with five to play. I like those odds. By the way, the team from the north would need a 30 game winning streak to hit 500 for the year.
The Tampa Bay Rays for the most part took care of business this season. One of the reasons they are in the conversation at all. A 12-7 record vs Baltimore (52-106) is not the greatest but it is nothing to be ashamed of either. Their 6-12 mark vs the Yankees however is what sticks out. Make that a 12-6 instead, and they are in the hunt for the AL East title and not just a wild card spot. Sure six games is a big jump. But that is only three percent of the season total. To put it another way, it is a half of an NFL game.
Why is the baseball season so long? Why do they have to play 162 times before the playoffs? Because they do. And it is beautiful.