Some things in baseball don’t make a lot of sense. But I suppose a sport with countless statistics measured by incongruent letters and signs (xFIP, wRC+, HITF/x, UZR) has its quirks. (Remember when WAR was revolutionary?)
This time of year, MLB teams have the option to make September call-ups. While I love to see all of these minor leaguers graduate to The Show and punch their big league ticket, it makes less than zero sense from a logistic and strategic point of view.
Like implementing a pitch clock or fixing service time eligibility, I don’t expect baseball to uncharacteristically make a change with the times any time soon. (For all the crap the NBA pulls, give them credit for innovating each season. The NFL is showing how not to do it but I digress.)
September call-ups, in a lightning-quick refresher because I know you all are not dummies, allow teams to expand from the 25-man roster for the last month of the season. With minor league seasons concluded, any player on the 40-man roster can be promoted to the majors.
You can call-up anywhere from none to 15 players...in the final month of the season, when teams are chasing a postseason spot, with everything on the line. Yes, just as many teams (more than likely more) are simply collecting checks at the tail end of a 162 game marathon.
But for the contenders, the expanded rosters are an ill-timed attempt at a solid gesture to provide rest and kickstart more MLB careers.
It’s the most important month of the season for some (the least for some, too) and you’re introducing a new way to play the game, contrary to the game that you’ve been playing for five months.
I get the idea to relieve bodies, but it completely changes the way games are managed. Speaking of, managers hate it. Players are hit-or-miss, usually depending on how meaningful their September games are.
For a great many, these are the games. The ones you dream of as a kid. Things shouldn’t drastically change at this time.
Rest is key, but baseball is the ultimate routine sport. It’s a 24/7 mental nightmare. Disturbing that right before the postseason is irresponsible.
My proposed solution is, if the league still wants to implement a month of call-ups and expanded rosters, that they plant it in the middle of the regular season.
Look, I don’t love it either. And minor league organizations will never want to forfeit a month in the middle of summer. They can have September back. Or even, give teams the option to once again expand in the final month. Certainly non-contenders will still use it and I’ve no problem with contenders adding a bullpen arm or two.
162 games way is too many. So is 82 in the NBA and NHL, while football’s problem resides with four preseason exhibitions.
The loaded schedule is going nowhere. Count the hot dogs and beers that are sold at even a September Marlins game.
However, the one big positive that comes from expanding rosters is alleviating some of the health toll that baseball players take during a near-everyday schedule for almost eight months.
The end of June and start of July marks the middle point of the regular season, with the All-Star break adding built-in off days. How about some more days of rest for the regulars in July (or even June or August) instead of September?
What do y’all think?