It doesn't have to be this way. Soon, talks will begin on the next MLB-players union agreement. It's time for both sides to do the right thing: Baseball must return to the 154-game schedule.
Eight games. That's what we're talking about. Eliminate eight games. The pennant race still runs molten through September, and games end in early October, (though the World Series doesn't need to conclude in November.) Consider the advantages:
The home run records.
Quickly now - no Googling - who are the top five MLB single-season HR totals? There's Barry Bonds, right? And Mark McGwire? And Sammy Sosa, and - um - three guys who, if you read the pious Gammonites, cannot set foot in Cooperstown without bursting into flames.
The single-season record stands at 73, held by Bonds. Next comes McGwire at 70, then Sammy Sosa at 66, then McGwire at 65, then Sosa at 64, and Sosa again at 63 and by now, we all get the joke, right? There is no HR record worth remembering, because nobody cares anymore. For a few steroidal years, the game became a pinball arcade. The lords of MLB winked at the use of steroids so fans would forget the 1994-95 strike, then announced a war on drugs. Has anyone ever won a war on drugs?
Thus, baseball tossed aside the greatest record in sports - Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in 1927 - which was achieved in 154 games. Return to 154, and Ruth becomes the gold standard again.
Some might say the HR record would still held by Bonds or McGwire, because maybe they hit more than 60 home runs in a certain 154 games. Those people are fools. You can't choose the first or last 154 games of a season, because it's not the season. Their totals came over 162 games, and they can keep their records - with an asterisk... like Roger Maris received. (BTW, HE SHOULD BE IN THE HALL.)
Once upon a time, teams used 10-pitcher staffs. Now, the Yankees go with 12 or 13 - and it's still not enough. One 15-inning marathon, or 15-14 shootout, and the bullpen becomes a MASH unit.
Eliminating eight games won't change the tenor of a pennant race. It's long enough. Sprinkle eight off-days over the schedule, and who knows - you might save several arms. When a game is rained out - (or postponed due to police-shooting riots) - it won't deal a crushing blow to the team's chances in September, as they play the new "twi-night doubleheader," where entire crowds are replaced.
Shrink the schedule. Save elbows. Save marriages. Save Babe Ruth. Damn, it's so simple. Let's get this done.