Is the future in the six-game series?

It’s baseball’s new darling. players love it.

Posted at 7:45am

A shoe to run faster?

A stick to keep hitting?

An effect ball that puzzles hitters?

no More like the six-game streak. The formula is so popular that in just a year it has been adopted by every major league minor league member.

What exactly is a six game streak?

It is a concept that was developed out of necessity in spring 2021. Minor league clubs were looking to resume activity after an enforced 18-month hiatus. The problem was that COVID-19 was still hyperactive. Across sports, teams have been caught in outbreaks and forced to cancel games.

To reduce the risk of contagion, the minor leagues have changed the game schedules. No more new opponents every four days – the norm since Babe Ruth was a child.

From now on, each team would only face one opponent per week in a six-game series. A revolution.

The players’ reaction?

A big, big swarm.

“It’s really better [qu’avant] ‘ replied Quebec’s Charles Leblanc, who shines at Miami Marlins AAA School Club. “It’s a lot easier on the body and on sleep. [La réaction chez les joueurs] is pretty unanimous. That’s why they kept the concept this year. »

Due to these long series, the travel distances could be significantly reduced. For some teams by almost half. It’s enormous. The less time players spend on the bus, the better their quality of life. Plus, owners save tens of thousands of dollars in shipping costs.

The players are happy. Your bosses save money.

It’s a win-win situation, right?

Oh. Wait. I see a raised hand in the back of the room…

Michel Laplante played in the minor leagues for a dozen years. augusta Good and. Sale. Lynchburg. madison Richmond. Greenville. Quebec. He’s probably done more bus miles than I’ll drive in my entire life.

“As a gamer who has taken long bus trips, I certainly wouldn’t have hated the concept,” he laughs.


PHOTO YAN DOUBLET, LE SOLEIL ARCHIVE

Michel Laplante, President of the Quebec Capitals

But the President of the Capitals of Quebec that today he confidently criticizes this new formula. “Luckily,” he says, the Frontier League — which the Capitals play in — didn’t take over the six-game series.

“Sport is still a business. As a player, you want a high salary. A big bonus. Aside from realizing that playing at a park is nice, there still has to be people coming to you to get paid well. »

And selling tickets to fans for six consecutive games against the same opponent is more difficult than selling a box of three-color popsicles in the desert. “I can’t imagine fans watching six home games in a row against the same team at the moment. As one of the biggest baseball fans I know, he admits that the fatigue would set in.

The singles match, I hate it. The series also consists of two games because it doesn’t show which team is the best. The streak of three or four games is the best balance. Six games? It is too long.

Michel Laplante, President of the Quebec Capitals

“Besides, what do you do in a long streak when a batter gets hit in game three? Where is the fourth game going? on the fifth? in the sixth? »

It’s a legitimate concern shared by the 2020-21 QMJHL head coaches when the league decided regional rivals would meet more frequently to reduce travel and the risk of contagion. We’ve been treated to 19 duels between the Halifax Mooseheads and the Charlottetown Islanders – without too many defections, it’s to be acknowledged.

And financially, Michel Laplante is not convinced that the concept is worthwhile. He agreed to release the figures from an organization similar to his.

“A team in strong A or AA that plays 150 games has a budget of 4 to 5 million. It’s slightly higher than a major junior hockey club. If you subtract 14 bus trips, you can save about $80,000. That’s about 2% of your budget. If you need that to justify your fans for playing the same team six times in a row, your business is not good. Your creativity is in bad shape.

— But 2% of the budget is significant, isn’t it?

– Hold tight. After that, you have to convince people to watch the same team six times. If you lose 100 viewers a night at $15 each for 75 games, you end up with $112,000 in unsold tickets…”

Does the Future of Minor League Baseball Go Through the Six-Game Streak?

We’ll have a better idea of ​​the impact on ticket sales by the end of the summer. But the trend towards longer series seems inevitable to me. For the benefit of the players. For your health. Also for ecological reasons. Sooner than later, sports organizations could come under pressure from sponsors and activists to reduce their carbon footprint.

Now I agree with Michel Laplante: six or even seven games against the same opponent in one week is too much. My favorite solution? Five games in five days, from Wednesday to Sunday.

Yes, the revenue would go down. salaries too. But not as much as you might think, because the spectators don’t jostle at the counters on Mondays and Tuesdays. The quality of life of the players would certainly improve.

Sounds like a home run, right?

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