It may seem a bit premature to discuss anything to do with Major League Baseball with the World Series having only just concluded but change is once again in the offing for MLB in 2022 with a few landmark deals set to come into play. Indeed, this upcoming off-season promises to be different from the rest with negotiations scheduled to take place over the future of the sport almost immediately after the 2021 season has ended.
First on the agenda is negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement as the current CBA between Major League Baseball and the Players Association expires on the 1st of December. This is significant for a few reasons but chiefly, if one isn’t reached in time then the new season will be put on hold indefinitely as it was in 1994 when a work stoppage occurred. On that occasion, 669 games were lost which included the playing of the World Series as the delay ran into 1995. As mentioned, this is a big off-season for MLB.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) November 3, 2021
Not far behind on the most important things to do is figure out a way to make matches shorter. There has, of course, already been an increased focus on this issue with a lot of energy going into trying to find a solution but incredibly, games have been getting longer despite the best efforts of the powers that be.
If you go back to the 1970s, games used to take just over two hours but in 2021, they took well over three hours to finish. Astonishingly, postseason games this season were almost four hours in length despite the new rule on pitchers having to face a minimum of three batters or complete an inning before they can be removed from the game. You do see the size of the problem that baseball is facing with regards to shortening games when you consider that even after introducing measures to do just that, they’re having the entirely opposite effect.
This is probably as big as any problem that the sport faces as popularity will continue to fall among the younger generations if they can’t find a way to speed it up. In fact, if it wasn’t for how competitive MLB is, you would imagine that the sport would be in a desperate battle to remain relevant but after eight different World Series winners in as many seasons, baseball has managed to hang onto its large core support.
For further proof of how exceptionally competitive the sport is, take a look at the most up-to-date MLB odds on bet365 and you’ll see 2021 World Series winners the Atlanta Braves at 14/1 to defend their title whilst instead the LA Dodgers are the outright favorites at 5/1.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) November 3, 2021
With this in mind, you could say that MLB has a good working formula going for it but just needs the odd tweak to make sure that it survives for decades to come.
Indeed, fans can expect changes coming into the sport as early as December, with the 2022 season set to look markedly different to 2021.