Reasons #4-5: Refining experiences and matchups
Reason #4: Enhancing the fan experience
Fourth, fans deserve to see something different in the stadium or through the broadcast. If every team plays every other team each season and the TV coverage cuts to that downtown skyline, iconic intersection, or ocean—hardworking fans get a chance to go away to somewhere unknown for that split-second.
In other words, MLB should incentivize television viewership by emphasizing efforts to take fans on vacation to every other market when the broadcast cuts back in—or out—from commercial breaks.
Reason # 5 Significantly increasing divisional matchup relevance
Fifth, if all teams face each other every season, by default it will decrease the number of games teams play against opponents within their divisions. As a result, each MLB regular season divisional game used to determine a division champion will become more vital, and feel more like an NFL series with its urgency to win, again enticing fan interest. Think Texans versus Titans over that critical two-game regular-season series.
On the other hand, many baseball purists might argue that playing so many games against divisional opponents is precisely what entitles a team to earn the right to win a division. However, at least two problems with that logic present themselves.
First, one counterargument to the notion that more divisional games are better is that if teams going into a new scheduling format know that they will have fewer matchups against divisional opponents, then they would be forced to make the most of those matchups when they occur.
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And second—my favorite counterargument to the notion that more divisional games better determine division champions—those baseball purists have only felt that way since the 1960s. You see, before 1969, there were no playoffs to determine who made it to the World Series.
Indeed, finishing in second place in the AL or NL, though quite a difficult feat to achieve, still ended a team’s season. Rather, the teams with the best regular-season records in the AL and NL simply just met to face off in the Fall Classic. Only in the last half of a century have we actually experimented with attempting multiple playoff rounds, creating the AL and NL Central divisions, implementing interleague play, and adding Wild Card teams as eligible contenders for a World Series title.