When we think of America’s favorite pastime, baseball comes to mind. Major League Baseball (MLB) has a rich history that spans over a century, with fans cheering on their teams in packed stadiums across the nation. The MLB season is a showcase of skill, strategy, and endurance that keeps fans on the edge of their seats.
During an MLB season, each team plays a total of 162 games. This number allows for a fair competition and ample opportunities to secure a spot in the playoffs. The schedule is divided into home and away games, with matchups against divisional, league, and interleague opponents.
Avid fans and newcomers alike are drawn to the excitement of the game, the passion of the players, and the electric atmosphere of the stadiums. Let’s dive into the intricacies of the MLB schedule, explore its rationale, and discover how the season unfolds for your favorite team.
The Regular Season
Each Major League Baseball season consists of a total of 2,430 regular-season games played by the 30 teams across both the American League (AL) and National League (NL). Each team plays a total of 162 games. The games are divided into several series, usually consisting of three or four games each, against various opponents within their league and division, as well as interleague play.
Interleague play, introduced in 1997, is when teams from the American League face off against teams from the National League. Each year, every MLB team plays 20 interleague games, which are usually scheduled in small clusters throughout the season.
The All-Star Game
The MLB All-Star Game, also known as the “Midsummer Classic,” takes place in the middle of the regular season and features the best players from both leagues. Fans, players, and managers vote on the starting lineup, while the managers of the previous year’s World Series teams select the remaining players. This exhibition game does not impact the overall standings.
The Wild Card Game
Once the regular season concludes, ten teams advance to the postseason. The two Wild Card teams in each league (the teams with the best records that did not win their division) face off in a one-game playoff to determine which team moves on to the Division Series.
The Division Series, also known as the American League Division Series (ALDS) and National League Division Series (NLDS), are best-of-five matchups between the Wild Card winner and the division winners. Two series occur in each league, with the winners moving on to the League Championship Series.
League Championship Series
The American League Championship Series (ALCS) and National League Championship Series (NLCS) are best-of-seven series that determine the league champions. The winners of these series then advance to the World Series.
The World Series is a best-of-seven championship series between the American League and National League champions. The winner is crowned the MLB champion for that season.
The MLB schedule is meticulously crafted, taking into consideration various factors such as travel, rest days, and avoiding conflicts with other major sporting events. The schedule is typically released in August for the following season.
Occasionally, teams may play two games in a single day, known as a doubleheader. Doubleheaders are often scheduled to make up for postponed games due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
Throughout history, there have been several record-setting seasons, such as the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won a staggering 116 games in the regular season, tying the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most wins in a single season.
While most MLB seasons consist of 162 games per team, there have been instances where the number of games was reduced. Most notably, the 1981, 1994, and 1995 seasons were shortened due to labor disputes between the players and owners. The 2020 season was also shortened to just 60 games per team due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Impact of COVID-19 on MLB Season
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the 2020 MLB season, resulting in a shortened 60-game schedule. Additionally, various safety protocols were implemented, including frequent testing, social distancing, and the absence of fans in the stadiums. In the subsequent 2021 season, the MLB returned to a full 162-game schedule, with safety measures still in place, and a gradual return of fans to the stadiums.
While the MLB season has largely remained consistent in recent years, the league is always considering adjustments to improve the game and maintain fan interest. Potential changes may include shortening the season, altering playoff structures, or modifying the pace of play to keep the game engaging for fans.
How many games are played in an MLB regular season?
Each MLB team plays 162 games during the regular season, totaling 2,430 games across all 30 teams.
How long does the MLB season last?
The MLB regular season typically begins in late March or early April and concludes in late September or early October. Including the postseason, the season can extend into late October or early November.
What is interleague play, and how many games are played?
Interleague play occurs when teams from the American League face off against teams from the National League. Each MLB team plays 20 interleague games per season.
As the final innings draw to a close and the MLB season wraps up, we can appreciate the extraordinary journey each team has taken. Over 162 games, players have exhibited exceptional talent and tenacity, while fans have witnessed unforgettable moments that define the spirit of baseball.
In retrospect, the MLB season offers a thrilling experience that captures our hearts and fuels our love for the game. As we bid farewell to another action-packed season, let’s look forward to the next, when new rivalries will be forged, records will be shattered, and the pursuit of greatness continues.