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Is the future in the six game series?

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It’s the new baseball treasure. Gamers love it.

Posted at 7:45 am

A shoe to run faster?

A stick to strike further?

A spin ball that confuses the batters?

No. Rather the six-game series. The formula is so popular that in just one year all major league minor league affiliates have adopted it.

What exactly is a six-game series?

It is a concept developed out of necessity in the spring of 2021. The minor league clubs wanted to resume their activities after a forced hiatus of 18 months. The problem was that COVID-19 was still hyperactive. In all sports, teams have been involved in outbreaks and forced to cancel matches.

To reduce the risk of contagion, the minor leagues have changed their calendars. No more new opponents every four days – the norm since Babe Ruth’s childhood.

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

The reaction of the players?

A big, big crush.

“It’s really better [qu’avant] Answered Quebecer Charles Leblanc, who shines in the AAA Miami Marlins school club. “It is much easier for the body and for sleep. [La réaction chez les joueurs] it is practically unanimous. That’s why they kept the concept this year. ”

These long series made it possible to significantly reduce travel. Almost half, for some teams. It’s huge. The less time players spend sitting on the bus, the better their quality of life. Plus, owners save tens of thousands of dollars on shipping costs.

The players are happy. Their bosses save money.

It’s a win for everyone, right?

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

Michel Laplante played in the minor leagues for a dozen years. Augusta. Well and. Salem. Lynchburg. Madison. Richmond. Greenville. Quebec. He has probably traveled more miles on the bus than I will drive in my entire life.

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


PHOTO YAN DOUBLET, LE SOLEIL ARCHIVE

Michel Laplante, President of the Capitals of Quebec

But the president of the capitals of Quebec who today casually criticizes this new formula. “Fortunately,” he says, the Frontier League – in which the Capitals play – did not adopt the six-game streak.

“Sport is still a business. As a player, you want a large salary. A big plus. You just have to realize that it’s nice to play in a park, there still have to be people who come to see 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-colored popsicles in the desert. “I can’t see fans watching six straight home games against the same team right now. He himself, one of the biggest baseball fans I know, admits that fatigue would be felt.

The individual game, I hate it. Even the two-game series, because it doesn’t show which team is the best. The three or four game series is the best balance. Did you leave? It’s too long.

Michel Laplante, President of the Capitals of Quebec

“Also, what do you do, in a long streak, if a hitter gets hit in game three? Where is he going in the fourth game? On the fifth? In the sixth? ”

It is a legitimate concern, also shared by the QMJHL coaches, in 2020-21, when the League decided that regional rivals would face each other more often, to reduce travel and the risk of contagion. We were treated to 19 duels between the Halifax Mooseheads and the Charlottetown Islanders – without too many overflows, admittedly.

And also financially, Michel Laplante is not convinced that it is worth it. He agreed to reveal the figures of an organization similar to his own.

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

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

– Wait up. Afterward, you have to convince people to come and see the same team six times. If you lose 100 spectators a night, at $ 15 each, for 75 games, you end up with $ 112,000 worth of unsold tickets … ”

Does the future of minor league baseball go through the six-game series?

We will have a better idea, at the end of the summer, of the impact on ticket sales. But the trend towards longer streaks seems inevitable to me. For the well-being of the players. For their health. Also for ecological reasons. Sooner or later, sports organizations may come under pressure from sponsors and militant supporters to reduce their carbon footprint.

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

Yes, the revenues would decrease. Salaries too. But not as much as you might think, because on Mondays and Tuesdays, spectators are not already jostling at the counters. As for the players, their quality of life would certainly improve.

Sounds like a home run, right?

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