Karpin’s Korner: Half-Game Out? Let’s Play Two

When the baseball season begins will depend on when the “season” resumes. The length of the season could also be dependent on that timeline.

MLB cancelled the remainder of the 2020 spring training games and said the start of the regular season will be pushed back “at least two weeks.” On Friday, MLB cancelled all spring training operations, but allowed the players to remain at their camps to continue workouts.

The health of the country is the priority here but when things begin to return to normalcy, how long do the players need to be ready for the regular season. How much work will the pitchers need to be ready?

The longer that this suspension of operations remains in place, the more chance that the regular season will not be 162 games. The previous stoppages were labor related.

The infamous 1981 strike, which lasted 50 days and cost a total of 713 games. When play resumed, the season was split into two halves with the respective division winners playing each other in the first Divisional Series.

The 1972 season was the first to have games called off because of a player strike. When the regular season was over, not every team played the same amount of games and it had a huge impact on the final standings.

Unlike 1981, the season had not yet begun but the games that were missed were not rescheduled. Most teams played a 156-game schedule but the Red Sox got burned. Boston finished a half game behind the Detroit Tigers because they played one less game and had one less win. Think those Red Sox were concerned about the “all important” loss column?

In 1990, the regular season was delayed one week after the owners locked out the players from spring training. That lasted 32 days but, when it was over, the teams did not play the same amount of games and you had fractions of a half games posted in the final regular season standings.

According to MLB Network’s Tom Verducci, the owners were averse to scheduling some doubleheaders to make up for the week that was lost in 1990. This upcoming 2020 season may also have those half-game fractions listed in the standings when it’s all said and done.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported MLB wants to play a full 162-game regular season schedule, but is that a realistic notion considering the sport is “racing the calendar,” so to speak.

There would to have to be some tweaks to the schedule if baseball wants to complete a full schedule.

In Godfather II, when Michael Corleone asks his bodyguard, Rocco, if it was possible to kill Hyman Roth, he responds, “Difficult, not impossible.”

A complete schedule at this point in time? “Difficult, not impossible.”

The logistics could be tricky but here are some ideas.

Shorten the All Star break. No reason that on Thursday, two days after the game is played, only one regular season game is scheduled. Schedule a full slate of games that day.

Consider scheduling doubleheaders. Because the games from late March and early April (or however long this hiatus goes) will be postponed, rescheduling against the same teams will be a problem, not to mention the interleague schedule. MLB could consider scheduling a double header or two against a divisional opponent. In divisional play, there are three home and home series throughout the season, so there would available dates to schedule a twin bill to make up for some lost time and just increase the amount of divisional games for one season.

Working with the Union to condense the number of off days could also be a possibility. An additional roster spot may be needed to pull this off.

You don’t want to see those dreaded half-game out numbers in the “Games Behind” column of the final standings.

Karpin’s Korner appears every Friday on nysportsday.com

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