This missive is written specifically and unabashedly in response to this tweet from Baseball America:
Now that Bud Selig is leaving, a question: What would you do as commissioner, aside from making your favorite team win? #MLB
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) September 26, 2013
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?