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How many games make a World Series champion?

BRONX, N.Y. — We were supposed to be celebrating Opening Day this week. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic is making the 2020 baseball season look bleaker by the moment. No, Mike Francesca, it’s not going to start April 6, not even close.

Hence, on Friday, legendary New York Yankees Hall of Fame closer, Mariano Rivera chimed in on The Michael Kay Show, as to what constitutes a legitimate World Series champion.

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Rivera, who played in the strike-abbreviated 144-game season in 1995, said, “I don’t think you can play a 60-game season and you call yourself a champion.”

Mo didn’t specify what would be an acceptable amount of games, although I’m sure it would’ve been cool with him if the Yankees had won it all in 1995.

So, this got me to thinking, what’s an acceptable number? How does one make it feel legitimate?

As a New Jersey Devils fan, I can tell you the 1995 Stanley Cup feels pretty much as sweet as the titles they won in 2000 and 2003. Yes, they played 48 games instead of 82 but that team was on the precipice of winning in 1994 and they still had to grind through four playoff rounds to win the Cup.

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In baseball, the regular season is a grueling grind but we do have precedent. Before 1961, the season was 154 games long. The 1972 season saw 155 games with the first strike by players. In the strike-shortened 1981 campaign, teams played 109 games and each division had a first and second half champion and a divisional series before the LCS and World Series. Finally, the aforementioned 1995 season with 144 games and the Wild Card era of three postseason rounds.

Yet, if we’re talking about a 60-81 game season, then what?

If it gets to that point, I say MLB should throw everything out the window and have a little fun, give all of its fans something to be preoccupied with. Let’s have a tournament similar to the college baseball World Series with a round-robin style setup. If the games have to be played at neutral site domes, so be it, there’s likely not going to be anyone attending at this point, so if you can somehow keep the players safe and isolated, at least make this much happen in the postseason.

The only other possibility that might salvage something for baseball fans is if by some stroke of a miracle the Olympics are held in Tokyo, Japan and you could field Olympic teams from every country with major league players.

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Otherwise, baseball might have to get creative with this baseball season, whenever it starts.