No More Mr. November: 2011 World Series Will Be Done in October, Says MLB

It’s been four months since MLB did something noteworthy with their playoff schedule, when they announced in March that they were cutting one off day in the middle of the LCS. A very minor change — deleting that off day didn’t actually move up the start date of the World Series — but a step in the right direction. Now comes an even more welcome announcement: the 2011 World Series will start earlier after all, and Opening Day will come a few days early to ensure that the World Series will be concluded by the end of October.

This requires breaking with tradition ever so slightly, so that Opening Day for most teams would be Friday, April 1, rather than on a Monday. If it’s approved, the first official games of the year will be played March 25 and 26 in Taiwan, of which Yahoo! Sports’s Kevin Kaduk disapproves: “Opening day should always occur on American (and Torontonian) soil.” Moving up Opening Day allows them to move up the playoff schedule by a week, so that the World Series will begin on October 19, 2011; this year, it’s scheduled to start on October 27.

There are a lot of off days, but, as I said in March, MLB is hamstrung by Fox’s needs. Fox spent $3 billion for the right to broadcast the World Series through 2013, and so Fox Sports essentially writes the game schedule. In order to maximize ratings, Fox tries to avoid broadcasting games on weekends, and prefers to avoid Friday night World Series games whenever possible — so off days are written in around those preferences.

Rob Neyer throws further cold water on the happy news, pointing out, “The difference between the weather on November 4 and the weather on October 27 is not, generally speaking, going to be a whole lot different, and there’s a reasonable chance it will actually be better on the 4th… Essentially, they’re trading potentially lousy weather in a few postseason games for potentially lousy weather in a few dozen regular-season games.” That’s similar to what Dan McQuade of Walkoff Walk points out is an “insanely weird defensive quote from the head of Fox Sports,” Ed Goren: “I’ve been in cities where the weather is awful in mid-October, and beautiful the first of November. So if we’re playing Game 7 of the World Series on Oct. 28, and it’s snowed out, don’t blame baseball.”

We get it. But baseball’s supposed to be played from April to October — the very first World Series ever took place from October 1 to October 13, 1903, when Deacon Phillippe led and the Pittsburgh Pirates over lost to Bill Dinneen and the Boston Americans. MLB will have to go back to the drawing board in 2013, when the next World Baseball Classic is planned, but for now it’s nice to know that the 2011 season will end some time in October, as it should.

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Alex is a writer for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and is a product manager for The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @alexremington.

12 Responses to “No More Mr. November: 2011 World Series Will Be Done in October, Says MLB”

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  1. MikeS says:

    Wouldn’t it be fun to get to watch World Series games on Saturday and Sunday afternoon? I know it will never happen again, but wouldn’t it be just beautiful if you lucked out with a sunny, crisp October day or even Indian Summer?

    You’d have warmer weather during the day too. And the game would end before 11 PM. You might even have better ratings outside the markets involved. Who in California races home to see a game starting at 5PM local time when they don’t have a rooting interest?

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    • twinsfan says:

      I would LOVE to watch some sunny afternoon WS baseball.

      Eventually the day will come when $$$ isn’t the *only* thing that matters, unfortunately it won’t be any time soon.

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    • Chuck says:

      You’re seeing this through dreamy nostalgic gauze. October afternoon baseball could never happen anymore, since football rules autumn afternoons on all four networks. And football is bigger in relation to baseball than its ever been. Football would be pissed Baseball, Baseball would be pissed at the lower ratings, and fans of both sports would be pissed at having to choose between their football team and the World Series. The only one who wins in this arrangement would be you.

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  2. joeiq says:

    I got excited when I read the headline. But that all faded while reading the article.

    My problem is the non game days in october for teams. Seems like a given team only play in half of days in october.

    So starting the season earlier isn’t going to help that. I don’t care if they get done Oct 30th instead of November 2nd. I care about waiting 3+ days between championship series and world series.

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  3. Henry says:

    Uhm…the Americans won the 1903 Series. Not the Pirates.

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  4. The Bunk says:

    “so why do you play coop?”
    – “Mr. October”
    “you mean the guy on the chip n’ dale’s calendar?”
    – “no, that was dwayne zachamore”

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  5. Cidron says:

    ok, Fox (and others in other deals, past present and future) spent money, so they get to say how its run? Thats not how it should be. My product, My rules, My .. MLB, when did it become MLB-according to FOX? Let them work around your sched. Yes, they spent the money for the rights to BROADCAST the games. Let them do THAT. Its still MLB that should control the sched. Whats next? Fox telling MLB that player A needs to go to team A as that team “draws more fans”, and they really would like that player… ugh.

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    • fothead says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this already happens through back channels. It does in the NBA. JUst ask William Wesley, if he’d tell you.

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  6. aweb says:

    Why are several people quoted stating that it might be nicer in November than late October? It’s possible, but less likely.

    Games in April can be rescheduled for later in the year, when it is more likely to be nicer. There’s also a nearly standard offday in the middle of the first series of the year (are they keeping that?) that allows for quick reschedules. Games in November can only be rescheduled for later and later, colder and colder, more and more likely to snow (in some places). Ending the World Series earlier makes it less likely it will be played under horrible conditions. Baseball isn’t football – it’s not a sport that becomes interesting on a different level when the playing conditions are tougher. I hate watching cold baseball decide the WS, and I’m glad there’s less chance of it in the future.

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  7. Chuck says:

    Personally, I like seeing meaningful baseball in November. The later in the year it goes, the happier I am. It shortens the bridge between baseball season and the holidays.

    Besides, the weather is typically worse in early April than early November in every four-season city in the country. The temperature is lower by some 4-6 degrees on average, and it’s rainier. Yeah, I know they can make up postponed April games later in the year, but given the way state of the art sod metabolizes water in most stadiums these days, that’s less of a consideration. In fact, now it’s more likely that they’ll play in cold rain now, because the sod of today soaks up the water so well. That’s bad enough for players, but it’s also horrible for fans having paid a king’s ransom for tickets to have to sit through.

    I know nothing I say here will change it back, but I think nostalgia and/or focus group results are overruling common sense here among the powers that be at Baseball.

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  8. philkid3 says:

    Couldn’t the whole April weather issue be mitigated a bit by playing most of the games in warmer cities?

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