Wednesday, April 30, 2014

If I were commissioner for a day

A lot of people think they have all of the solutions to fix the so called problems that baseball has at the moment.  Those problems range from length of games to hall of fame voting to the free agency to many, many others.  Like me, I'm sure that you would all love to be able to implement some changes to the game that we all know and love.  Well I'm taking a crack at it.  Let's say that Major League Baseball allows me for one day to step in and make any changes that I see fit, as long as they positively effect the game.  Well here are my changes:

Implement the DH in the National League

The National League and the American League having different rules, but having the same roster construction is a big problem in baseball.  The ability to simply throw some in the DH role if they can't play defense or if they are getting up their in age is a distinct advantage for the AL when it comes to roster construction.  There is a reason that you have seen the big free agent sluggers land longer and larger deals to play in the AL.  AL teams were able to ink guys like Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and Robinson Cano to longer deals because they have the luxury to stick them at DH later in their career.  Then there is a guy like Jose Abreu.  While he was expected to hit, there were big question marks as to what kind of fielder he would be.  This is one of the main reasons that most of his suitors were in the AL.  Until this problem is fixed, the AL has a distinct advantage when it comes to building a roster.  Also, with the increased number of interleague games, it creates problems for both leagues.  When playing in AL parks, NL teams are forced to use bench players as their DH while AL clubs can use their regular DH.  When playing in NL parks, AL teams are forced to have their pitchers hit, which increases the chance of injury for guys that aren't use to hitting or running the bases.  The only solution here is to add the DH to the NL as well and level the playing field for everyone. 

Create a more balanced schedule

I read a great article by Matthew Truebllod over at Arm Side Run ( about how the MLB schedule is preventing many fans from seeing most of the league's players.  More hardcore fans often have or some sort of package like Extra Innings so they are able to watch more games, but the casual fan usually only watches what is on their television or whomever comes to their home park.  The current schedule, with the extreme amount of intradivisional games, doesn't allow for the casual fan to see all of the league's talent.  Matt uses Andrew McCutchen as an example, showing that in his 2013 MVP winning season, Cutch played 115 of the 157 games he played in NL Central parks.  That means he only played 42 games of an 162 game season in parks that were not in the NL Central.  This lack of exposure is really hurting the game.  This is why baseball should go to a schedule to what the NHL implemented this year.  Each teams plays a home and home with every team in the league.  The remaining games would be played against divisional opponents.  While this might require more 2 game series and subsequently more travel, it would greatly improve the exposure of the league.  Fans would get a chance to see all of their star players come through their home park every year.  The schedule would look something like this, using the Cubs as an example.

4 games (2 home and 2 away) vs. all of the AL teams=60 games
6 games (3 home and 3 away) vs. all other NL teams outside of the Central-60 games
Final 42 games (5 or 6 home and 5 or 6 away) against remaining 4 NL Central opponents

This schedule might be a little more difficult logistically, but I believe it would great help the league as a whole.  It could obviously use some tweaking and this is just a very basic look at things, but that's my suggestion.

Fix the Hall of Fame voting

The Hall of Fame is a museum showcasing the best things Major League Baseball.  The steroid era is one that not only existed in baseball history, but it also brought back baseball in 1998 with the home run race.  This is why there should be nothing keeping guys linked to steroids out of the Hall of Fame.  While I'm the least certain of how to fix the voting problem, I believe numbers are the answer.  Jay Jaffe has created JAWS, which is a numbers based system to decide who should be in the Hall of Fame.  The Players Union and the league, in partnership with Cooperstown should come up with some sort of system similar to JAWS to get players into the Hall.  There is no reason that guys like Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, Roger Clemens, and many more absolutely deserve to be enshrined among baseball's greats.

Fixing the length of games problems

I for one have no issue with the length of games.  The longer I can be watching baseball, the better.  However, this is a serious problem for the baseball's ability to attract and keep the casual fan.  I have a couple solutions that might potentially fix this problem.  The first is very simple, force batters to stay in the batter's box in between pitches, similar to in high school. This is basic, but some guys take FOREVER in between pitches messing with their batting gloves, adjusting their jock, etc.  All of this is incredibly unnecessary and adds minutes to games.  The second solution is to limit the number of mound visits per inning game.  There will no longer be any mound visits by a coach unless he is removing a pitcher.  Coach visits are 99% of the time useless and are nothing more than a coach giving a brief pep talk to his pitcher, which most of the time the pitcher doesn't pay attention to anyways.  In addition to coach visits, defensive players will not be allowed to visit the mound either.  If the players want to talk defensive positioning or strategy, they can do it through hand signals or however they want to.  Hell, allow the bench coach to hold up signs in the dugout like college football players signaling in plays.  I really don't care how they do it, but there are much faster ways than coming to talk to the pitcher multiple times per inning.