Bryce Harper has had a lot of time to think while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Phillies outfielder made it pretty clear on Friday that only one thing has been on his mind: getting back to playing baseball.
Harper shared an extensively detailed proposal for the return of the MLB season via his Instagram, which included a 135-game regular season, a College World Series format for the postseason and some other interesting tidbits.
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For those who don’t want to read through that mountain of a paragraph, here’s a breakdown of the five most interesting things about Harper’s proposal:
135-game regular season, East-West conferences
A lot of numbers have been thrown around regarding the number of games to be played this season. MLB owners agreed on a plan to restart the season that includes an 82-game regular season schedule, but Harper seems to think there’s room to squeeze in 135 from July to mid-November. Here’s his math:
- July (31 days) + August (31 days) + September (30 days) + October (31 days) + November (15 days) = 138 days
- Teams get an off day on Monday once every two weeks and play seven-inning doubleheaders on Sundays.
It’s an interesting idea, though it’s likely a lot of those «off» days would have to be used to make up rained-out games.
Harper also proposed that all teams move to a six-man rotation to ease the workload on pitchers, though he said the idea is flexible depending on what pitchers are more comfortable doing.
Perhaps the biggest shakeup would be a move from the American League/National League divisions to an East-West split, similar to the NBA’s conferences. The logic behind it makes sense if teams are going to be limited to where they can play and travel, but it’s hard to envision MLB making this kind of drastic change because, well, it’s baseball for God’s sake.
College World Series format for the postseason
This part of Harper’s proposal is significantly more complicated. He suggests a 10-team, round robin playoff that includes three-game series and wildcard elimination games. It sounds like a whole lot of chaos to happen in a span of two weeks, so we’ll let Harper explain:
«10 teams round robin format College World Series kinda style at the new Texas Stadium or whatever stadium/ stadiums are best. 3 game series. You win the series you move on. You lose you play the other loser in a 1 game wildcard. Winner of that moves on. Other team is out.»
The College World Series is typically made up of 16 Super Regional winners, broken up into two groups of eight that play in a double-elimination tournament until one team remains on each side. It’s unclear if Harper’s CWS reference was to breaking the 10 teams into two groups of five and then playing round robin, or just the double-elimination aspect of the playoffs.
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All-Star Game, regular season awards before World Series
Harper had some pretty good ideas for what happens once the World Series matchup is determined. Following the hectic playoff schedule, the two remaining teams will have two days to rest. During that time, he suggested the league hold its All-Star game and Home Run Derby. It’s an interesting proposal that could get more eyes on the sport by putting the league’s two biggest events back-to-back.
Harper also suggested that the league announce its award-winners during those days, which makes a lot more sense than waiting until the end of the season when many fans are no longer paying attention.
‘Open it for everybody to watch’
This might be the most important aspect of Harper’s spiel; MLB has been heavily criticized over the last several years for TV blackouts. It never made any sense for a league struggling to gain popularity with the younger demographic to make it harder for them to watch their games. Now, with fans unable to come to the ballpark and stuck in their homes with nothing better to do, it’s the perfect time to get rid of all these blackouts and give fans the opportunity to fall in love with America’s pastime.
Push back the start of 2021, 2022 seasons
Another question that follows what to do this season is what to do about future seasons? Players will need time to recuperate, especially if they’re jamming in a 135-game schedule in 138 days.
Harper proposed that MLB push back the start of the 2021 season to May 1, and then push the start of the 2022 season to April 1. Seems simple enough.