Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

If I Were Commissioner of Baseball


 

This missive is written specifically and unabashedly in response to this tweet from Baseball America:

I’d like to solicit opinions in the comments section below, but here’s my list:

  • Universally implement the DH Rule

Personally, I actually hate this.  I believe pitchers can and should hit.  I believe it tends to reduce the managerial Art of Strategy in several ways:  construction of lineups, bunting, and even defensive play.  You could argue that pitching around 8th-place hitters “to get to the pitcher” reduces offense, but I think it places a greater emphasis on the production needed at the top/middle parts of the order.  I like seeing managers fret over trying to get his own pitcher through a tough inning so that he doesn’t have to waste a player when that pitcher is coming up to the plate soon.  I like the double switch.  I like seeing pitcher-athletes hitting.  I like seeing how they run the bases… sometimes.  These things are and should be part of the game.

But alas, the inevitable has occurred:  the reach of the DH has extended its tentacles far enough… all levels of professional and non-professional ball.  The National League is now virtually an island unto itself.  We have seen our enemy, and now are forced to embrace him.  As Commish, I would fully institute the DH.  Not because I want to.  Because I have to.

  • The All-Star Game

The idea of playing for a World Series home-field advantage is stupid.  The team with the best record should have that advantage.  That’s change number one.  Here’s number two for an incentive to play hard:  members of the winning squad get a $50,000 bonus each, plus $50,000 for their favorite charity.  Losers get squat.  If you’re selected for the winning team and do not participate on the active roster, then it’s $5,000/$5,000.

More:  the internet voting thing is just out of control.  Yes, let’s allow that to play a role, but only as part of a larger picture.  The managers and players get to vote for All-Stars.  Their votes are weighted 50%.  The fans get the other 50%.  I’m also thinking about some sort of statistical thing, but maybe that will wait for a couple more years into my term.

  • Stadium Fund

I hate seeing municipalities being stuck with – or held hostage by – their local professional team for the sake of grinding tax monies out of them for new stadiums.  The poster children for this problem will be the citizens of Miami-Dade County in Florida, who will end up paying a confiscatory cost for the new Marlins Park… over multiple decades… back-loaded.

I therefore will institute a league-wide tax of the teams:  $10 million per year.  These funds will go into a baseball stadium bond fund.  Once every 30-35 years, team owners will be permitted to remove their share of those monies from the fund for either the construction of a new park or the renovation of an existing park.  The idea here is that with cash in hand, teams will at least be able to demonstrate a good faith partnership with their local governments and thus perhaps share the expenses… or possibly not even have to call upon the locals for any tax money at all.

  • Baseball in America… and the World

It is vital to the success of baseball to expand the markets – but that must be done on multiple fronts:  nationally and internationally.  Off-season touring professional teams should be encouraged for games throughout the world.  Facilities need to be built/upgraded in the inner cities and suburban areas alike.  Equipment should be readily available where needed.  Cal Ripken Jr. and brother Bill have been leaders in these movements.  Their examples should be seized upon by Major League Baseball and promoted nationally.

  • The Hall of Fame

There are multiple issues here:  steroids and Pete Rose are the two hot-button issues.  There is a lot of passion about both.  I am also concerned about the long-term outlook of having the Baseball Writers Association of America being the sole arbiters of Who Gets In… particularly in this new media era.  I’ll put that latter issue on hold for now.  But as for the rest…

Specifically, a framework for how to handle steroid era players should be hammered out with a committee of former players, owners, managers, fans, and writers.  Once that is in place, I would like to have a definitive criteria for which players get onto the ballot for HOF consideration.  Once they are allowed on the ballot, neither steroids nor any other adverse character issue (other drug use, criminal history, whatever) will be allowed to be considered.  At that point, they are elected based on baseball merit.

Peter Rose would likewise be addressed by the same criteria.  The Commissioner (me) would not maintain a ‘banned’ list – such a list would be determined by the overall agreement as the committee dictates.  If this agreement says “players guilty of gambling on baseball should be excluded”, then so be it.  If the agreement says “any excluded player may be forgiven by doing X, Y, or Z”, then such would allow a definitive grounds for reinstatement.  Either way, this would remove the decision from one individual and return it to those with more stakes in the game as ‘baseball people’ – including the fans.

  • The Wild Card Game

Yes, I like this… in principle.  But  I would advocate this change:  The 2 Wild Card teams play a best-of-three series to determine who moves on… with the higher-seeded club beginning with a 1-0 lead in the series.  The current system places an emphasis (and rightly so) on winning a division.  Such a change would reward the best 2nd-place club appropriately without making them subject to… oh, I dunno… maybe a crazy infield fly ruling?  Oh, and while I’m still the Grand Poobah of Baseball…

  • The Infield Fly Rule

The definition of an Infield Fly Ball (in section 2.00) will be amended as follows:  ‘when in flight, the umpire(s) in the immediate area of the batted ball shall make a judgment as to where the ball would land, if allowed to drop to the ground on its own.  If such a fly ball were judged to land on any portion of the outfield grass, the ball is not an “Infield Fly”. ‘  Language related to ‘arbitrary limitations’ will be removed.

You pretty much expected that one, right?

_____________

All right – your turn:  what do you want to implement as Commissioner?

 

 

 

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  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    Alan,

    DH: I would put it in place as well, just as you would, only because it’s inevitable. I don’t like it either – but it’s coming, probably after Selig is gone.

    ASG: Agreed, fans shouldn’t vote. Too much favoritism, or lack of knowledge, or any number of things that make the ASG a joke at times. I don’t know about $$ incentives though, as it would have to be substantial to make a difference based on what they already get paid. I agree, best record should dictate home field advantage.

    Ballparks Can’t agree on the taxes league wide, and I don’t agree on taxing locals to pay for such things either. If the owner’s can’t afford a new park based on gate sales and other things, then nada.

    I like your infield fly rule change, and your wildcard idea. It’s almost as if we’ve been talking to each other! I have other ideas which I will ponder more before submitting further ideas, but you have my vote for the next commissioner!

  • Joseph Fain

    If you instituted the DH in the NL, I would have to assassinate you. No offense :)

    • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

      Well, I hate to say it, but get your gun out. I guarantee you that it’s going to happen sooner or later, and really almost has to with the team numbers and current configuration of the MLB. People speak of the option of eliminating the DH, but not going to happen. For a great article on why, go here, read it and weep as I did: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9158659/mlb-designated-hitter-spread-nl

  • Pingback: If I Were Commissioner of Baseball | qubdvfernandez64o

  • http://thekencarroll.blogspot.com/ Ken Carroll

    Excellent piece!

    First, no DH! I need neither a rational response to nor a careful consideration of that noxious, junior-circuit, through-the-looking-glass testament to greed at the expense of honor and order. You wanna pitch? Then you gotta hit.

    And no artificial turf; I don’t care if you do have a dome. Get a big frickin’ can opener if necessary and let the sun shine in and the grass grow. Baseball should be played on real grass.

    You’re right on the All-Star game. More input from the people who play and the baseball writers; less from the fan base.

    WS home-field advantage should be earned throughout the season, not by the outcome of a single game that isn’t even fully supported by the players and GMs.

    Establish a draft for foreign players or incorporate that draft within the current draft.

    Work out an agreement with the umpires’ union to get rid of the worst of the umpires (Ben Stein: Buckner? Buckner?) and promote better ones. Put sets of video cameras on the foul poles facing home plate and the deepest part of centerfield to get fair/foul calls and fan interference calls right nearly all of the time.

    Right again on the infield fly rule. The infield fly rule is there to protect the baserunners, and when that does not apply – or when the fielder obviously loses the ball – it should be waived. At some point a little bit of common sense has to be interjected in the game (See George Brett and the Great Pine Tar Controversy).

    I disagree on the stadium fund. Chris is right on that one.

    As far as the Baseball Hall of Fame, something does have to be done. We need some criteria because the standards obviously fluctuate.

    Here come the (more) controversial parts: Increase the 25-man roster to a 28-man roster (And the 40-man roster to a 43-man roster) so that some weekend double-headers can be scheduled within division and the length of the season can be shortened by a couple of weeks. We don’t need to see snowmen on the baseball diamond.

    As for PEDs, there needs to be a different punishment for people who take PEDs than for a player who smokes a joint.

    As commissioner, I’d offer up a 90-day moratorium for all PED users in MLB. If they come forward and confess all of their usage with all details, then that usage will never be used against them if it comes up in the future. Those currently suspended will remain suspended.

    All individuals (non-players) who assisted in obtaining, delivering, preparing or injecting PEDs to ballplayers will be immediately banned for life from associating with baseball at the major and minor league level.

    Any ballplayer who is later caught will face a one season suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense. The ball club who employed that player at the time(s) of his offense shall be fined 2% of its average annual operating budget over its most recent five years of operation. If the ball club reports the offending player, the fine is reduced to one-half of 1% of the annual operating budget over the previous five years of operation.

    Harsh? Yeah, but it will force teams to keep a better eye on their players because newer, more effective ways of using PEDs wil make detection increasingly difficult.