BOCA RATON (CBSMIAMI/AP) — Major League Baseball most likely won’t shorten the regular-season schedule anytime soon. However, playing more international games will be a priority.
Dan Halem, baseball’s chief legal officer, said such a cut is not likely to result from talks next year for a new labor contract to start in December 2016.
“Eliminating eight games is a financial issue,” he said during a news conference Wednesday at the general managers’ meetings. “By the same token, we understand getting some more flexibility in our schedule is important. At the end of the day, it’s a significant economic issue for the owners. I expect we’ll talk about it, but at this point I don’t think I could say that it’s a likelihood.”
The American League went to a 162-game schedule in 1961 following expansion, and the National League followed in 1962.
Teams currently play over a 183-day season, leaving few complete off days after travel is included.
Major League Baseball hopes to play regular-season games in Europe within five years and return to Mexico for the first time since 1999.
Rob Manfred, who took over as commissioner from Bud Selig in January, has made expansion of international play a priority.
“I think the view is that the more you play in these countries on a continual basis rather than going to a country one year and then waiting five years to return, the better, in terms of developing baseball,” Halem said.
“Mexico is a priority of ours, in terms of further developing it as a baseball market. Europe, which we really haven’t done much in over the years, is also a priority, but nothing certainly has been planned yet. But I think it’s the commissioner’s goal to be able to play regular-season games in both Mexico and in Europe, certainly over the next five years.”
San Diego and the New York Mets played a three-game series at Monterrey, Mexico, in August 1999, and Colorado and the Padres opened the 1999 season with one game there. MLB also has played regular-season games in Tokyo and San Juan, Puerto Rico.