Angels’ Mike Scioscia proposes reducing schedule to 158 games

Mike Scioscia is a strong proponent of expanding the division series from five to seven games and of finishing the World Series in October, when there is a better chance of decent weather in the Northeast and Midwest than there is in November.

The 162-game regular-season schedule would have to be condensed so the postseason could start about Oct. 1, and that could be accomplished by playing more doubleheaders.

But on Sunday, the Angels manager proposed something more radical: reducing the number of games, not necessarily to the pre-expansion, 154-game schedule teams played before 1961 but something in the 158-game range.

Teams lose money when they lose playing dates, and “if you went to 154 games, you’d lose a lot of gate revenue,” Scioscia said.

“But if you blend it, where you cut down some games and some dates, you could minimize the [financial] impact, tighten the schedule by a week to 10 days to accommodate an expanded division series and get the World Series done in October.”

As a member of Commissioner Bud Selig’s 14-member special committee to review and examine on-field related issues, Scioscia has more power than most to enact change in the game.

He was an outspoken critic of a playoff format that had the Angels playing only nine games in 21 days last October.

At the recommendation of the committee, which was formed in December, several off days were eliminated from this year’s playoff schedule.

Teams can reduce dates and maintain revenue by playing day-night doubleheaders. A regular doubleheader gives fans two games for the price of one but costs the home team a game’s worth of revenues, significant for a team such as the Angels, who draw well.

“From an ownership perspective, any time you lose a date, you lose revenue,” Scioscia said. “A split doubleheader doesn’t hurt revenue, but they’re much tougher for players. I’m fine with regular doubleheaders, but I’m not at all in favor of split doubleheaders.”

Running in place

It’s probably too little, too late, but the Angels ran their win streak to four with a 3-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. The Angels remain 10 games behind the Texas Rangers, who have won five in a row.

Dan Haren gave up three singles in seven scoreless innings to improve to 3-4 with a 3.04 earned-run average in 10 starts since he was acquired from Arizona on July 25. Relievers Jordan Walden and Fernando Rodney completed the shutout with scoreless innings.

Mike Napoli doubled and scored on Juan Rivera’s single in the sixth and clubbed his team-leading 24th homer of the season, a solo shot to left-center field, in the eighth.

“You never like to say you have to win 15 in a row, but we do play Texas seven more times, so we’re somewhat in control of our destiny,” said Haren, who struck out six. “They’re pretty far ahead of us. We have to play perfect baseball the rest of the way.”

Napoli’s hits made up for his fourth-inning error, when the first baseman missed shortstop Erick Aybar by several feet with a throw to second on Franklin Gutierrez’s fielder’s-choice grounder, forcing Haren to pitch his way out of a second-and-third, no-outs jam.

“I threw it to Peter [Bourjos, Angels center fielder] instead of Aybar,” Napoli joked. “Dan picked me up.”

Looking ahead

Scioscia may have provided a glimpse of the Angels’ winter plans Sunday when, in response to a question about whether the team needs “tweaking” or an “overhaul,” he replied, “Tweaking.”

The Angels expect their top hitter, first baseman Kendry Morales, to fully recover from the broken leg that ended his season May 29, and they will probably pursue an impact hitter such as Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford, who will be a free agent.

Scioscia seemed to imply that major changes would not be made, but he cut off a reporter in the middle of a follow-up question.

“Let’s not get into next year,” he said. “Let’s leave it at that. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”