Monday, July 10, 2006

Commissioner for a Day: Major League Baseball

(HT: Sports Illustrated)

SI did a cool bit on its website, inviting their various national writers to take over the sport they cover as "Commissioner for a Day". It's such a cool concept (especially during the usually boring sports month that is July) that I figured I would steal it and post some thoughts on the various sports.

I'm going to start with Major League Baseball, simply because it was the first SI piece that I read (Tom Verducci had the honors), and because the All-Star Game is Tuesday night.

I invite all of you to post your thoughts on what you would do if you ran Major League Baseball for a day. Either post a comment or send me an e-mail.

1. The All-Star game would start at 8pm ET.

Any pregame filler has to start during the 7pm ET hour, because the first pitch of the All-Star Game is being thrown no later than 8pm ET.

"But Mr. Commissioner Ciskie, the network wants the ceremonies to air in 'prime time', and they're paying us a lot of money for broadcast rights."

I don't care. Much of the problem with the All-Star Game lately is the fact that MLB has coddled FOX way too much. They've taken a great exhibition game that could stand alone and turned it into a made-for-television event. It's not rocket science. You need to market this game to the kids before you lose them all to football and soccer, and you're not marketing the game to kids when the "Midsummer Classic" regularly doesn't end until midnight ET. It doesn't matter that there isn't school the next morning. The eight-year-olds aren't staying up that late unless they're staying with the grandparents, and then they're not watching baseball.

Along the "stop coddling to the TV networks" lines...

2. At least two games in each Division Series, League Championship Series, and World Series must be scheduled in the afternoon.

The Division Series are in good shape as far as this goes, though the Yankees rarely play afternoon playoff games because OMG THEY HAVE TO BE ON IN PRIME-TIME!!!.

The LCS used to be in good shape, until FOX decided that regional coverage was better for ratings than a doubleheader.

And I can't remember the last time a World Series game was played in the afternoon.

Again, who are you marketing yourself to if you're Major League Baseball, families or the TV network?

If the defense is "ratings are better in prime-time", then why does the Super Bowl start at 6:20pm ET?

3. Players who hang over the plate and don't try to move away from pitches won't be awarded first base for being hit.

This can't be all-encompassing and I know that.

It's already a rule, and I know that, too.

But I'm tired of guys leaning into pitches because they're protected by huge chunks of body armor, or because they can twist their body so they're hit in a spot where it doesn't hurt much.

The rule is that you have to try to get out of the way, not that you have to move your body so you don't get hit in the hand or the forearm or the groinal region.

Pitchers have to be allowed to pitch inside without running the risk of a wayward curveball hitting someone in their elbow armor.

The NHL is living proof that you can indeed call the rulebook the way it is written without damaging the game.

4. Force teams with retractable roofs to have the roof open whenever there is no rain and temps are in the 60s or higher.

This is a real problem at Miller Park in Milwaukee, where the roof is closed on nice days all the time.

Obviously, if it's too hot, you close the roof. But the standard needs to be uniform.

Baseball is an outdoor sport. Don't abuse the technology.

5. Suspensions take effect immediately, with no appeal hearing taking place more than 36 hours after the indicent that led to the suspension.

Verducci posted this idea. I love it.

Baseball's system has always been dumb. A player gets suspended, and he basically gets to pick and choose when he serves the suspension. If a Yankee gets suspended, he can appeal long enough to play in that big series against the Red Sox, then when the Devil Rays come to town, he drops his appeal.

Players should be suspended immediately, and appeal hearings should be held within no more than 36 hours via teleconference.

6. Each team must set aside one "box seat" section once per home series, and sell all seats in that section for $20 or less, and they also must reserve a minimum of one luxury box per game to be given to a charitable organization.

I'm not in favor of mandating charity, but I think it would be a good step for baseball to improve their public relations as they continue to struggle through what is hopefully the tail end of the steroid era.

Not only that, but "Joe Fan" would be able to enjoy the "fat cat" seats every now and then. Doing it just once per home series would mean that owners wouldn't be killing their bottom line.

7. Make a promotional deal out of the "retro uniform" specials that most teams are doing, by setting aside one week per season as "Retro Week".

In Retro Week, every team would wear retro uniforms for a week's worth of games. Teams at home would charge "retro" prices for tickets, souvenirs, and food. Teams can use the "old school" look whenever they want, but every team wears old uniform designs for this entire week.

8. Put in a directive that replay will not be used in baseball.


It's not hockey, and it's not football.

Bad calls will happen, but there aren't really any plays in baseball where the umpire can't possibly get the call right without the use of replay.

(If you watch replays of close calls at first base, it's incredible how many of them are called correctly. It's very rare that a first-base ump blows one of those calls.)

And no form of replay is going to realistically do anything about floating strike zones, which loom as the only serious problem with baseball umpires.

Well, except for...

9. Umpires will be subject to public discipline for overly confrontational actions toward managers or players.

Yes, it's sometimes funny when managers and umpires are face to face and jawing back and forth.

It's also getting old.

Umpires should walk away from such arguments. They've made their final decision. Eject the manager, coach, or player involved and get away from the confrontation. Too often these days we see umpires either instigating or at least not stopping these intense arguments.

Furthermore, anyone involved in a prolonged argument with an umpire should be subject to harsher penalties than just an ejection or a fine. The NBA suspends those who don't leave the court in a "timely manner" after being ejected. Baseball should do the same.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I disagree with your thoughts on Miller Park being closed too often. I've been to probably 10 games already this season and I feel like they've done a good job deciding what to do with the roof.

The thing I'm sure you have a problem with is that whether the roof is open closed is based on what's best for the fans.

While I can agree to a point with the thought that this is a professional sports game and thus the state of the roof should be whatever is best for the game, but that's just not practical.

The fans are paying for this, in more ways than one. Besides the price of the ticket, us Milwaukee county citizens have been paying extra taxes to pay for the stadium for years now.

The roof takes a while to close and I guarantee you that if it were to rain and they hadn't been ready and it started to rain inside, a ton of fans would go nuts and complain. The Brewers would never hear the end of "not being prepared"

Plus, because of the way the wings work, while it's taking that long long time to close, you can have a weird situation where the infield is covered, but the CF is getting poured on.

You're probably right and they're pretty cautious about it, but I feel like they often make the best decisions. I mean, last weekend they called for rain and it was raining before I got home from the stadium, which is only a 15 minute drive. But as the showers weren't predicted til evening and it was a day game, the roof was open.

Ultimately, I think that while it is definitely an outdoor game, you have to account for the fact that this is Wisconsin. And I'd rather give up the perfect aura of outdoor baseball so that we don't have to see games in snow. Or wearing winter coats, gloves and scarves. In April.