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What Baseball Can Do Without
Lots to Talk About....
I’ve been reading a lot about baseball over the years and find myself intrigued with, and by, many baseball insider’s views of what baseball needs and what it doesn’t. I, of course, have formed my own ideas as well and thought this would be the perfect time to share my opinion – since there isn’t much else happening in baseball at this time (the Yu Darvish sweepstakes aside of course). I present these in no particular order:
The DH: I admit, I’m a National League fan (if you’ve read any of my previous baseball-related hubs, you know by now I’m a Mets fan – though I can’t really justify that right now). But humor me here. The DH was supposed to be an experiment, a one-year experiment. What it has become is the separation of the league into two different types of baseball games with different rules. NO OTHER SPORT WORKS THIS WAY!! I would argue that with the DH in place, a great deal of strategy has been removed from American League games. In the National League, the manager has to plan ahead and make moves and countermoves, often using his whole bench through a series of double-switches to keep the pitchers batting spot filled with someone other than a relief pitcher. In the American League, it simply doesn’t exist. What DOES exist is an overpaid hitter, and usually only a hitter as the DH is usually the DH because he can’t field and no strategy exists in the game. The DH rule also leads to unbalanced teams facing each other in the World Series. When the NL team goes to the AL park and gets to use a DH, who do they use – a guy off the bench. Is he equal to the professional hitter the AL team has?? If you pit last year’s Red Sox to last year’s Mets it would be David Ortiz vs. Willie Harris/Scott Hairston. Even if you put your best hitter at DH, then someone off your bench is starting. It simply doesn’t make sense.
Interleague Games: This was cool for a while but let’s face it, this has led to some incredibly uneven schedules for teams fighting for playoff spots. Teams that have to face the Yankees for 6 games are being measured against teams that have to play the Royals for 6 games – the inequity in that formula really doesn’t make sense. This might be fixed by realignment next year. Baseball would have to contract two teams and make four 7-team divisions but it could work as every team could then play a balanced schedule vs. every other team.
Baseball in Florida: The Jose Reyes signing aside (since that’s what people will use against me in my claim here), baseball in Florida simply doesn’t work. When the Marlins were good in the past, nobody went to the stadium, same thing for the Rays. It just doesn’t work. It could be the relative age of the people living in Florida, the weather, the fact that tons of minor-league ball games can be seen for a fraction of the price of the MLB game. I don’t really know what it is. But Florida baseball is good in spring because it isn’t ridiculously hot yet. Doming a stadium might help with the weather but I bet we’ll still see an empty stadium before long in Miami, no matter how well the club plays.
A Compromised Commissioner: Bud hasn’t done an awful job but there is no mistaking the fact that he was an owner and sides that way. I’d like to see someone completely independent be named commissioner though that will never happen. Whitey Herzog would have been a good choice years ago (I never liked Whitey as an 80’s Mets fan but after reading his book, I have to admit he’s got more baseball smarts than almost anybody else I can think of). Bob Costas would be an interesting choice though he’d never take the job. I think Tim McCarver would be an interesting choice here as well.
Steroid Panic: Yes, PEDs are bad for you and illegal. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, as strong as PEDs can make you, they can’t help your hand-eye coordination or make you a more skilled hitter. It simply doesn’t happen. Baseball is a skill sport as is Hockey. Football and Basketball are far more physically taxing. Let’s give bats to all those huge football players and see how many of them can hit a slider, curveball, split-finger fastball or anything thrown at 95 miles an hour. Steroids are a problem in baseball, but not the problem people think they are.
The BBWAA: Better known as the idiots who vote for the Hall of Fame. I have to admit that I don’t have a great solution for this dilemma, but this society of baseball writers just doesn’t seem to put a whole lot of thought into their selections. NOT ALL OF THEM ARE BAD, but many of them make no sense. I can’t wait to see the Hall of Fame balloting this year when some moron will give Tony Womack a Hall of Fame vote, or the fool who gives a vote to Eric Young, but fails to vote for Jeff Bagwell or Barry Larkin. A better system needs to be put in place.
Posting System for Japanese Players/Political Refuge for Cuban Players: I know Baseball is working on this but an International Draft would be great. Teams could draft players from international leagues and then negotiate with those players or the player’s team. This draft should be in addition to the regular amateur draft. As many players from around the world are considered professionals, they shouldn’t be drafted alongside amateurs – that wouldn’t be fair to either the amateurs or the professionals. No more insane posting fees, no more guesswork. And for the Cuban players – teams should include them in the draft. If those players ever choose to enter the MLB, the team that drafted them gets first rights to sign the player when they become available.
Astroturf: It’s hot, it leads to all sorts of injuries and it isn’t cheap to maintain. This is one advance we can leave behind.
“Real” Consequences for the All-Star Game: This was always a stupid idea. It’s an exhibition game. It should have no bearing on who gets home field advantage in the World Series. Never mind the conflicts of interest involved, it simply makes no sense. Blame Bud for his foolishness here. Simply rotate home-field advantage as in years past or let the teams flip a coin or something. There is really no equitable way to handle this. Actually if realignment happens the way I described above, you could theoretically use the head-to-head standings for the two-teams involved. If the Cardinals played the Rangers during the season, whoever had the better record in those games gets home field advantage.
All Star Game Skipping: Hey players, if you were VOTED in by the paying public, SHOW UP. If you never want to go to the game and like the time off (as is your right) then make sure your name isn’t on the ballot in the first place. If you are voted in but happen to be legitimately injured then fine, go home for some therapy but otherwise you should be present.
The Wave: Semi-cool in the 80’s, not so much now.
Guaranteed Contracts: Oh how Baseball would change if players were paid for performance rather than guarantees. It will never happen but it doesn’t take much to envision how different things would have been on some of these super-long, extremely expensive contracts that didn’t work out. Mike Hampton is the poster boy here. Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa make the list as does Barry Zito, Darren Dreifort, Chan Ho Park and a host of other insane signings.
One Dumb Owner: Every year, one owner does something immensely stupid to completely change the salary structure in baseball. Enough already. I know when the owners get together to discuss anything, the Union cries “Collusion” but can’t somebody explain that ratcheting up salaries ratchets up ticket prices for the public and they are already WAY TOO HIGH!!! What do Angels fans have to look forward to after Arte Moreno opened the vault for Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson? Much higher ticket prices, that’s what. Last year someone gave Jayson Werth a truckload of money and everyone knew that was a mistake too.
Scott Boras: Hey, I believe Scott Boras does a great job for his clients – but he’s also influencing ticket prices by finding the idiot I mentioned above. I’ve never liked his antics or his ethics at times, lying about mysterious bidders and such, but I guess that’s part of the game.
Maple Bats: If they break and shatter too easily, why are they being used at all.
Well that's the list for now. I'll liekly do a follow-up to this with what Baseball Actually Needs in a day or two. Feel free to Comment and give your opinion on what Baseball can do Without....