David over at Tribe Cards issued a challenge to the other bloggers, and hell, I figured I’d take him up on it. There’s plenty I’d like to change about baseball, and reading others’ entries has been downright fascinating. So, in no particular order, here are the things that I’d like to change about baseball that might even make it better (though I have no illusion that my answers are the only right answers):
- Balanced Schedule. Okay, I said these were in no particular order, but I think this is what I would try to do first. The current schedule puts some teams at a severe competitive disadvantage (looking at you, AL East). You’re never going to have complete parity until the financial system is overhauled, but balancing the schedule would help. Oh, and this would change
- Interleague Play. I know a lot of people hate it and a lot of people love it. I’m indifferent about it, and I think maybe making more people indifferent to in-season interleague play is the solution – look at the NFL. The NFC and AFC play each other in-season all the time and yet the Super Bowl is still a huge draw. A balanced schedule would mean an interleague game is going at any given time. Maybe it’d be a pain in the ass for the schedulers, but I think competitive balance is more important than making their jobs easier.
- Phase out the DH. AL play bores me to tears, and I think this may be the one place where I think tradition meets common sense. The pitcher hitting makes the game more, not less, interesting. There’s all kinds of roster trickery that happens in NL games that aren’t in AL games, and I can’t help but think that was what was originally intended. By the same token, I wouldn’t want to put any current DHs out of work, so there’d be a phase-out, say, within 10 years time, to allow teams the time to restructure their organization around the concept of no longer having a DH.
- The First-Year Player Draft. I love the draft. Let me repeat that, I love the draft. always have. But even I can’t apologize for it basically being a system of indentured servitude that screws talented young players just for being talented young players, and it’s hard not to argue that the draft as it stands is broken. Eliminate the draft and replace it with a new revenue-sharing system designed to make amateur free agents more signable; you could scale the amount of revenue “tax” a team pays relative to the amateur free agents it signs, or put those free agent payouts as part of the overall budget.
- Eliminate the All-Star Home Field Advantage. I think we’ve seen it’s a useless gimmick.
- Build more initiatives to get children and minorities interested in the game. Baseball may be incredibly popular, but there’s no arguing that there is a dearth of African American players in the game right now. I like what’s being done right now, but as commissioner I’d set up a committee to research new ways to market and build the sport in the inner cities as well as a youth “brand”.
- Umpire accountability. Once hit f/x is in place, use it and pitch f/x to give umpires yearly grades. If they don’t make the cut, demote them. Make harsher penalties for confrontational umpires. And yes, incorporate limited instant replay. There’s no reason we can’t get these calls right in this age.
Jeez, I guess I had more ideas than I thought I did when I started this. I mean, I get it, tradition can be a really good thing, and whether for good or bad baseball lives and dies on its traditions, but at the same time, being too shackled to the past can keep anyone from moving forward and finding new ways that work. MLB has done some great stuff during Selig’s reign (if you’re not familiar with what MLB has done with media, check it out, it’s amazing), but there’s so much more that could be done to move forward.