This is my first time to join in on a Blog Bat-Around topic so I bear with me. This topic was started by David at Indians Baseball Cards and Random Wax
who asked what we would do if we were MLB's commissioner.
As a disclaimer, I've never been a fan of Bud Selig, partially stemming from how he was both the owner of the Brewers and the commissioner of baseball for a time. There seemed to be a major conflict of interest there and he has always been known to be more of an owner's commissioner. He also almost ruined baseball with the way he "handled" the steroid era and I don't know if I'll ever get over the 2002 All-Star Game. I was at a hotel watching the "end" of the game and thinking that a damn coin flip would've made more sense than just calling a tie. There's no tying in baseball!
Moving on to what I would do to change baseball...
1) Install some sort of salary cap.
I know that this would be extremely complicated and might never pass a vote with the owners, but I think it has to be done. Teams with $200+ million payrolls and $30 million payrolls can't really compete. I know that the poor teams will beat the rich teams on occasion, but so many things have to work out for it to happen. I'll cite the current Rays as an example. I don't know what their exact payroll is but I know it's not much, especially compared to the Yankees and Red Sox. They currently have the perfect storm of great scouting/drafting and developing their star players during their arbitration years. Can they stay competitive over the next 5 years? Only time can tell, but it will be hard, unless they can increase their payroll, or play on a more level monetary surface. Will the Yankees & Red Sox stay competitive since they can afford the sign players to bad contracts (Dice-K for $100 million!?!) but still have enough payroll to spend on other veterans who can pick up the slack? Yes they will.
2) Use the DH in both leagues.
Who ever wants to see a pitcher hit? Anyone? I know that there are about 10 pitchers who can actually hit the ball with some consistency and probably a few hundred more who like to
hit, but wouldn't it be more fun for fans to only watch hitters hit? I mean, hitters are very rarely asked to pitch, and when they are, the game is either a laugher or ridiculously long. Also, National League starting pitchers have a statistical advantage compared to their American League counterparts since they get to face a pitcher in the batter's box every third inning or so. This definitely pads the strike-out and ERA stats.
3) Give every team a chance to make the playoffs by restructuring the divisions every few years.
Now, I really don't know how this would/could work and I'll admit that all of my ideas have major holes in them, but something should be done. As a fan of team that plays in the toughest division to win in baseball, it's extremely frustrating that the Orioles would have to win 90+ games to even come in 3rd place in the A.L. East. I'm not saying that the O's are close to competing and I know they haven't even had a .500 record since '97, but it's tough to know that they have to get so
much better to even have a whiff of the playoffs while some other divisions are won by teams' with a .500 record every few years. So, realign the divisions. Somehow. I just don't know how.
4) Increase instant replays. Get rid of the umpires who like the spotlight.
Honestly, I feel like replacing umpires with computers is possible with the technology we have today. But the umps are important to keep around; they are part of the game and should stay a part of the game. However, they are human and blow calls, sometimes very important ones, that everyone else in the stadium can see was wrong within 30 seconds. So why shouldn't they be able to see it too? The simple solution would be to add a fifth ump at a computer station who can alert when an incorrect safe/out, home run or fair/foul call occurs and immediately correct that call. It creates jobs, and you would never have another Tony Tarasco situation (I still hate Jeffrey Maier). On a similar, yet unrelated, note, I would get rid of the few umpires who like to become the story of the game, rather than just call it, as well as the umps who are flat out awful. So goodbye Cowboy Joe West and CB Bucknor, among others.
5) Fix the draft signing deadline.
The MLB First-Year Player draft is held in mid-June, yet the signing deadline is not until mid-August. But why? Sure, I understand that sometimes negotiations take some time to work out, but 2 months? The new signing deadline is July 15. You either sign the players or you don't. A month should be plenty of time to get it done, and the players would now be guaranteed at least a half season in rookie ball with their new organizations. From what I understand goes on now, many of the top picks (and their agents) have no discussions with the teams that drafted them until a few days before the deadline anyway. So does it really matter when that deadline is? If they only need a few days to work things out, we could move the signing date up even further, say to June 30, but I'm fine with having it be July 15.
6) Ensure that every MLB
I know that this would be a huge number of cards, but the guys who only play in a few games deserve some love too and this would also help my autograph quest. It's not like the rookies and stars need that 20th or 40th card produced every year. These cards could be spread out over multiple releases or just one mega-set but I would make it happen.
The Commish has spoken. Feel free to let me know how smart (or dumb) you think my ideas are. I'd like to hear the feedback.