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Have you ever turned on your TV to watch a baseball game and said, “Wow, the Chicago Cubs are playing the St. Louis Cardinals, AGAIN! Why do Major League Baseball teams always seem to play each other three times in a row during the regular season?
Here is a list of reasons why Major League Baseball teams play each other at least three times in a row:
- Playing in a series format limits travel
- The series format makes it easier to get in the full 162-game regular season
- Allows for the players, coaches, and other staff to have some days off to rest
- The series format allows for more time to make up for games that are rained out
- Financial Reasons
To learn more about why baseball teams play each other at least three times in a row, keep reading!
How does playing in a series of three games instead of one game limit travel?
Playing a team in a series of three games cuts down on the travel schedule for all teams in Major League Baseball. Imagine being a member of the Miami Marlins and having to fly across the entire United States to play the San Francisco Giants for only one game. It simply would not make sense because that would be a lot of time, money, and travel miles to invest in only one game.
The three-game series allows teams to get more “bang for their buck” and not spend so much time in the air flying to and from various cities. Also, remember that airline travel (Yes, even luxurious charter flights) is immensely tough on the players’ bodies. Any ways of limiting travel helps the baseball players stay healthy over the long regular season.
It is a Long, LONG Season!
Major League Baseball requires 162 regular season games, which is abundantly more than the NFL (16), NHL (82), and NBA (also 82). Also, keep in mind that Major League Baseball teams usually play 24 to 28 exhibition games during Spring Training, and up to as many as 20 postseason playoff games. This comes to a grand total of 210 possible games for a Major League Baseball team when you consider the exhibition and playoff games. Interestingly enough, that is more total games than professional basketball, hockey, and football combined!
This high amount of regular season games means that Major League Baseball must get creative to maintain a highly efficient schedule. The series format of playing at least three games in a row (and sometimes four) allows the MLB teams to complete the required number of games more easily.
Rest Days are Essential
Though they are finely tuned athletes, baseball players are still human beings and human beings need days off to rest, recuperate, and spend time with their family members. Since baseball games are played almost every day of the week, the grueling schedule has a draining effect on the players, coaches, and all staff members.
Playing teams in a three-game series allows for the players and all team members to enjoy more days off during the regular season. Major League Baseball agreed to extend the length of their regular season to 187 total days back in 2018. This agreement allowed for all teams to have approximately 25 days off during the jam packed six-month regular season.
Re-scheduling Games that are Rained Out
We all know that sometimes mother nature just will not cooperate with a baseball team’s game schedule. Lots of Major League Baseball games are scheduled during the springtime of year which means that games are rained out at times. This is where the three-game series format again comes in handy.
If a night game with a 7:05 start time gets canceled due to inclement weather, it can simply be made up the next day by playing a double-header (this means 2 games in 1 day). An example format for a double-header would be to start the first game at 2:05 in the afternoon and then start the second game at 7:05 that same evening. Since baseball games usually last around three hours or so, this would allow for a much-needed two-hour break for the players to eat, shower, and change into a fresh uniform before the second game begins.
(Side note: Rainouts are kind of nice for baseball fans because they get to see two games for the price of one game the next day.)
How does a three-game series help Major League Baseball financially?
So much of our decisions in life are made due to financial reasons and baseball is no different. As we mentioned beforehand, traveling across the country is extremely expensive. If Major League Baseball went to an individual game format instead of the three-game series format, this would negatively impact each team’s profit.
Playing the three-game series format keeps each Major League Baseball team’s expenses to an absolute minimum. Less expenses equals more profits. MLB owners not only want to win, but they also want to make as much money as humanly possible in the process.
Also, the three-game series format makes sure that every team is playing on the weekend days of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Working class folks are more likely to attend baseball games on the weekends so the MLB executives make sure that there are always games on the weekends to increase the attendance numbers. The higher attendance numbers also positively impact each MLB team’s respective bottom line.
How much revenue does Major League Baseball generate each year?
Most teams in Major League Baseball generate boatloads of revenue each season. In fact, all 30 MLB teams combined for an astounding 9.9 billion dollars of revenue for the 2018 season. The average Major League Baseball team produced around 330 million dollars of total revenue during the 2018 season. Needless to say, although TV ratings have dropped a little over the decades, Major League Baseball is still quite healthy from a financial standpoint.