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Why a 154-game schedule won't happen

    "I don't think length of season is a topic that can't ever be discussed. I don't think it would be impossible to go back to 154 [games]." -- Commissioner Rob Manfred, to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell

I love the idea of a 154-game season. Think about it: If you were starting Major League Baseball from scratch, would you play 162 games? Would you stretch your season out to the final days of October -- or even possibly into November, which could happen this year? Would you want your most important games of the season played in potentially the worst weather of the season? Remember the 2012 World Series in Detroit? Game-time temperatures for Games 3 and 4 were 47 and 44 degrees, but quickly dropped into the 30s and 20 mph winds dropped the wind-chill factor into the low 20s. Not exactly baseball weather. Tigers fans were dressed like they were heading out on an Antarctic expedition. The poor lady running the Dippin' Dots stand told me she sold one ice cream. I'm half-convinced the Tigers lost those two games because it was so cold they just wanted the season to end and go home.

It's important to understand how baseball got to this point. For decades, both leagues played a 154-game schedule. They had many doubleheaders back then, so there were more off days and the season usually didn't start until mid-April. For example, here are the starting dates for various years:

1910: April 14

1920: April 14

1930: April 14

1940: April 16

1950: April 18

1960: April 12 (although the American League didn't start until April 18)

And teams went directly to the World Series. And World Series games were played during the day. The 1960 World Series went seven games and ended on Oct. 13. That was actually a pretty late end date. The 1955 World Series also went seven days and ended on Oct. 4, Johnny Podres shutting out the Yankees with temperatures at Yankee Stadium in the high 60s. Baseball weather.

In 1961, the American League expanded to 10 teams, meaning the traditional schedule of playing each team 22 times wouldn't work. Instead, each team played the other nine teams 18 times -- 162 games. Both leagues started on April 11 that year. The World Series started Oct. 4. The National League expanded in 1962 and also adopted a 162-game schedule.

From 1962 to 1968, the latest conclusion for a World Series was Oct. 16 in 1962 -- and even then, only because Game 6 was delayed for three days due to torrential rain in San Francisco.

In 1969, MLB expanded again and split both leagues into divisions, necessitating an extra round of playoffs and pushing up the season's start date earlier in April -- when the weather can still be cold and wet in the Midwest and Northeast. Still, the World Series ended at Shea Stadium on Oct. 16. Here's that final game. I don't know the temperature, although the players are all wearing sleeves and the fans jackets, so it wasn't in the upper 60s. But it was still reasonable baseball weather. And the 5-3 game was completed in 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Then baseball started playing night games in the postseason in the early '70s. Then the league championship series were extended from best-of-five to best-of-seven in 1985. In 1995, another round of playoffs was added. Along the way, doubleheaders were eliminated. In 1997, the season started April 1. Game 4 of the World Series in Cleveland on Oct. 22 featured a game-time temperature of 35 degrees ... with 15 mph winds and snow. The game took 3 hours, 15 minutes. Definitely not baseball weather.

Anyway, you get the idea. Game 1 in 2004 at Fenway Park -- 40-something degrees, wind, some rain. The teams combined for five errors in a game that took 4 hours to play. How about the Rays and Phillies all bundled up in 2008? And that World Series in Detroit? If the Giants hadn't swept, Game 5 would have been delayed by a huge snowstorm that hit Detroit.

So Rob Manfred is at least putting the issue on the table. And why not? Cut eight days off the schedule, start the regular season a week earlier, cut an off day or two in the postseason and you can at least try to finish the season in mid-October instead of November.

But there's a major roadblock, of course: TV revenue (and to a lesser extent, gate receipts). Local cable TV revenue is driving the increasing revenue in the game. Take, as an example, the Arizona Diamondbacks, who reportedly just signed a deal with Fox Sports Arizona worth in excess of $1 billion. Details are sketchy, but sources have said the D-backs will triple their current annual payout of $31 million per season.

If the contract is 15 years and you're losing eight games per season that's 120 games of lost ad revenue for Fox Sports Arizona over 15 years. At the prices the local cable networks are paying for rights, they won't like the lost revenue. So good luck convincing owners to agree on shortening the season and ticking off their TV partners.

Plus, every year there are 28 teams that don't care about World Series weather.