Monday, September 20, 2010

Bombing baseball back to the stone age


Several bloggers have taken the latest blog bat-around challenge and come up with several very sensible ideas in the event that they ended up the commissioner of major league baseball. I agree with some of the ideas. I don't agree with others. But, overall, they are logical, and I could see many of them working within the structure of today's major league baseball rules.

(Well, except for this one).

I am going to go in a different direction. I'm not going to consider the current framework of major league baseball. Screw the current framework. In a lot of ways, it's the reason for the current problems.

No, instead, what I propose is a complete overhaul of major league baseball. It will be messy. It will be chaotic. It is guaranteed to piss people off. It's unrealistic and totally unenforceable. But if I want baseball to be the way I want it to be, then it's going to have to happen.

If I was commissioner and these rules were enacted, I'm sure I'd be the most unpopular commissioner in the history of sports. In fact, I'd have a pretty good chance of being the first commissioner to be assassinated. But nobody said this fake commissioner job would be easy. When you're bombing baseball back to the stone age, some punk-ass progressive is going to get his mohawk in a poof and be all whiny that his Colorado Rockies don't exist anymore.

Sorry. Returning baseball back to 1952 and the days of Billy Cox is for the greater good. They don't call it the "golden age" for nothing.

And to help me in illustrating these insane ideas are cards sent to me from madding. Yes, I'm getting him involved in my hair-brained, crackpot scheme to overthrow baseball. He'll probably never send me cards again.

OK, get ready for the "cranky purist":

Absolutely fantastic card! Look where the ball is!


1. Return baseball to a 16-team league. You're enraged already I'll bet. I'm puzzled by the number of bat-arounds I've seen so far that have proposed expansion. I know it's in order to make the leagues balanced. But I don't want two more Triple A-quality teams acting like major league franchises. We have enough of those in the majors as it is. Several of baseball's current issues -- scheduling, All-Star Game problems -- can be attributed to the fact that there are too many teams. But, for me, the big expansion-related issue is dilution of talent. There are a lot of players in major league uniforms that don't know what they're doing. All you have to do is watch someone run the bases or a reliever not be able to get the ball over the plate to get the idea that maybe what you're watching is not major league quality.

I'm all for returning to a style of baseball in which you see what is featured on the above card on a semi-regular basis. Bring on the Everyday Squeeze Play!


So, how do I propose getting down to 16 teams? I don't know. I'm the fake commish, not the real commish. But I do know which teams I'd get rid of: any team that uses the word "Rox," any team that can't figure out if they represent Los Angeles or Anaheim, any team that changes their team colors from purple to burgundy, and any team that can't fill their stadium at least 15 times a year.

So that means goodbye to the Rockies, Angels, Diamondbacks and Marlins. Plus, I generally don't enjoy expansion teams, so adios to the Mariners, Blue Jays and Rays. Goodbye, also to the Nationals, the Brewers, Padres, Rangers, Royals, Astros and Twins.

That leaves the Dodgers, Giants, Reds, Braves, Phillies, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Mets, Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Indians, A's, White Sox and Orioles. I could be convinced (re: bribed) to lose the Giants or Mets or both and add one of the previously jettisoned teams (preferably the Royals, Twins or Rangers). In any event, I can hear the schedule-makers breathing a sigh of relief right now.


2. No interleague play. Do I want to see the Dodgers play the White Sox? Only if it's in October. I don't get giddy over the Dodgers playing the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Angels. It doesn't make the game more special at all. The game is special already. Interleague is gimmick. And it's a tired gimmick. You can cite attendance figures all you want. I don't care. The commish just killed off 14 markets!! You think I care about attendance?


3. Enforce the rule book strike zone: I know the pitchers will be with me on this one.The strike zone is from the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants to the hollow beneath the knee cap. It's in the rule book. I know that definition may be open to interpretation by umpires, but I also know that there is nothing in that definition that says the strike zone is between a players belt buckle and his mid-thigh. Umps who do this garbage get to pick up garbage at the stadium the next day.


4. Allow more than one company to market baseball cards. All of the companies would be allowed to use MLB logos and names. But as commissioner, I would require one company -- it would rotate each year -- to produce an all-unlicensed set. Because that would be fantastic. And no sneaky stuff like Upper Deck. You be unlicensed and you be proud.


5. No instant replay. Did Piazza's hit go over the wall? Was it fair or foul? Did it hit the yellow line? Did a grubby kid touch it while it was in play? Do we have umpires on the field to make those calls? We do? Then why is this a question?

Yes, umps make mistakes. People make mistakes. I don't have a problem with this. People keep bringing up the World Series and crucial plays that will decide a championship. Has this happened a lot? Maybe a couple of times. Are people committing suicide in the streets because it happened? Not that I'm aware of. The world will go on.

People get so pissed off because other people are imperfect. I rather like the human element. The game will be a lot less interesting if we let technology determine every call. Guaranteed. (And, no, the commish will not use instant replay to enforce the strike zone. The threat of garbage detail should be enough).


6. Create a draft for international players who want to join the majors. I have no idea what the rules are for getting an international player on an MLB team now. Is it still some territory rights thing? Or is it some "I saw him first" deal? Whatever it is, it needs to be replaced by a once-a-year draft. Stinky teams get first pick, per usual. Teams shouldn't be punished because they don't want to blow their budget scouting in Albania. I know the Dodgers have taken advantage of whatever rule is in place now, but the commish plays no favorites.


7. Drop any MLB affiliation with drug companies: OK, I'm deadly serious on this one. Shawn Green is accused by some people of taking PEDs. He's never been implicated, but because he hit 49 homers in 2001, people talk. He's tainted. Does MLB care? No. For all of its backward drug testing rules, MLB continues to be sponsored by drug companies. Hello? How can you convince fans and players that taking drugs to "enhance your performance" -- whatever that performance may be -- is not a good idea if your televised games feature commercials that promote people "enhancing their performance"? You can blame the players or the fans for the fact that Green has a black cloud over his 2001 season, but you can blame MLB, too. And as the commish, I wouldn't let that happen.


8. Keep All-Star Game rosters the way they are but eliminate the Home Team Advantage. The home team thing is ridiculous. I think the players do well enough without any incentive -- not that this is an incentive at all. As for the rosters, I like the fact that every team is represented. As a kid I'd look forward to seeing my players in the pregame introductions and hope they'd make the game. But if they didn't play, I wouldn't whine about it. There's too much whining about that. The commish will eliminate whining!

By the way, did you know Raul Mondesi made the All-Star Game just once in his career? That's not right. But the commish isn't expanding the rosters because the commish whined!


9. Eliminate the designated hitter. Oh, the Players' Union hates the fake commish with a vengeance. But I believe in pitchers being able to hit. I know a lot of them can't, especially people like Ramon Martinez in the '90s. But at one point -- back when they were little urchins -- pitchers did know how to hit. Then they had the bat taken out of their hand during organized ball and they became only half a ballplayer. The commish would mandate that all organized baseball from the lowest level to the highest OBLITERATE THE DH!!! That's right, the commish would have powers over every organized team in the land! What a wonderful world it will be when all pitchers can hit.


10. Change who gets to vote for induction into the Hall of Fame. As commish, I would let the fans and only the fans vote for Hall of Famers. I'd create a committee of regular baseball lovers and they'd get to pick. Since the fans claim to know exactly who should be in -- let them pick. Then the commish will sit back, pop open a beer, and watch the show.


11. Require that every school teach a class called "Good Guys in Baseball." There are lots of good guys in baseball. Both from the past -- like Carl Erskine -- and today, like Vernon Wells. But you never hear about them. As a result, especially with modern players, there gets to be an "us" vs. "them" mentality between the players and the fans. If people would take the time to reveal the good that players do, then there wouldn't be that divide. And I don't like putting it on the players to broadcast the good that they do. Players aren't going to toot their own horn about what charity they develop. It's up to others -- and, yes, even certain aspects of the media, to do this. But the commish won't control the media. That's one thing he refuses to do.


12. End pointless parallels. The commish has spoken!

So, that's what I'd do if I was commissioner. Sure, MLB might be a smoldering pile of rubble by the time I'm through with it. But it will be MY smoldering pile of rubble.

Think I've got a shot?

4 comments:

  1. I like em, especially the draft!

    Butttt I'd probably have more like 20 teams. I like expansion teams, and would hate to see the Rockies and Rays leave. I'd also like to see the Marlins stay, but their fans suck, so they can go. And the Twins have a ton of history, so keep them too. Maybe throw in the Rangers and make it those 4 teams for 20?

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  2. Dude, it was only the "golden age" because the best teams were in New York.

    Myself, I enjoy the 'scientific ball' era, and also the 19th century, but I sure as heck am not advocating major league baseball in Altoona.

    Your 16 team league leaves out the vast population explosion of eligible major league players vs. the 'classic' era (where they had quotas on blacks and not that many Latinos and no Asians, etc.)

    32 is the right number. There are 32 urban areas in the Americas that can support MLB.

    Give MLB to Vancouver and Monterrey.

    THE WHOLE ISSUE with the alleged talent gap is the LaRussaization of bullpens. 14 position players, 11 pitchers. 10 pitchers with a lot of off days.

    The DH can go away. I have about a dozen players to crowbar out of the HOF. If Ron Santo is not in the HOF, then it's a travesty. Also, gambling is a bigger scourge than drugs.

    If you read about history, many of the players in the PCL, IL and other leagues were much better than the dregs of the major leagues up until expansion and the total control of the minors by the majors. I mean, would you rather make good money playing for a winning team or make lousy money playing for the Phillies or Browns.

    So it wasn't so classic, really.

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  3. not sure how you get it down to 16 teams. brewers, royals, nats can go, but i don't see many more you can get rid of.

    2,3,4,5 are all great. 6, the international draft is a must. i am the dominican baseball guy and i don't understand how the dominican players go from being signed to an academy at 14-15 and playing in the dominican summer league to being signed to a big league deal at the day they turn 17. if you can enlighten me to this it would be appreciated. do the teams that sign them to the academy for a couple hundred a month have the first chance to sign them to long term deal at 17. as far as i know it is just a free for all when they turn 17, even if an mlb team had them in there academy for 3 years. in any case something needs to be done.

    7,8,9,10 are all great. not sure how you enforce 11 and 12, but they are ok.

    so i wouldn't have a problem with the nightowl as commish.

    i like smedcards idea of a team in monterrey, mx or santo domingo, dr or san juan, pr.

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  4. I think your ideas are great. Now, the 1950s were NOT so great for baseball because of other reasons, but your principles are pretty sound. At least they might save the baseball card business.

    The Golden Age of Baseball Cards

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