View Full Version : Time for total revamping of MLB(aseball)? I think so
04-02-2002, 05:56 PM
Well, the 2002 Season is under way. Provided labor relationships don’t sour and lead to yet another strike, there’s a growing consensus amongst baseball fans (like myself, who's given this some thought) that something has to be done to shore-up the sport's waning popularity. I realize this is not a life and death topic; hence the “IMHO” forum. Here are my ideas, from most to least important. Feedback at the local pub has been for the most part positive, if I hear similar sentiments on the SMDB, perhaps I’ll CC: Mr. Selig.
1. League Reorganization: The time has come to organize the leagues into 2 leagues, 4 divisions that are geographically logical. Let’s say something like this:
League A: 14 Teams
Northeast Division: 7 Teams; Toronto, Montreal, Boston, NY Yanks, NY Mets, Philly & Baltimore.
Southeast Central Division: 7 Teams; Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Florida & Tampa Bay.
League B: 16 Teams
Midwest Southern Division: 8 Teams; Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota, Kansas City, St. Louis, Texas & Houston.
Western Division: 8 Teams; Seattle, Colorado, San Francisco, Oakland, Anaheim, LA, San Diego & Arizona.
With expansion, inter-league play, etc. the days of American & National are dead. Purists cling to the current, status quo either out of nostalgia or hatred of the DH-rule.
The advantages to reorganization are boundless.
Great Cross-Town rivalries: Yanks/Mets, Cubs/Sox, A’s/Giants, Dodgers/Angels to name a few.
No more cross-country road trips: You know those unprofitable games that no one watches because they’re broadcast at 11PM-2:30AM (for night games) on the east coast and 11AM-2:30PM (for day games) on the west coast.
2. A 136 Game Season: With reorganization leading to the elimination of those unprofitable games and the increased revenues coming from more popular cross-town rivalries, baseball will provide a whole lot more with a whole lot less. Imagine a season like this:
League A plays 16 games against the other 5 teams in their division and 8 games against the 7 teams from the other division in their league. Simple scheduling: two 4-game-home and two 4-game away series with 5 teams = 80 intra-division games / one 4-game home and one 4-game away series with 7 teams = 56 intra-league games.
League B plays 16 games against the other 6 teams in their division and 5 games against the 8 teams from the other division in their league. Simple scheduling: two 4-game-home and two 4-game away series with 6 teams = 96 intra-division games / one (alternating year) 3-game home and one 2-game away series with 8 teams = 40 intra-league games.
With 3+ weeks of regular games truncated from the end of the season, the playoffs will wrap up in early September and the World Series concluding before the 1st of October. No more stupid inter-league play, no wild-cards (can you say NHL?) which pisses off the purists anyway.
3. Speeding up the game: I personally don’t think it’s much of an issue…but everyone else seems to. Here’s a couple ideas:
Optical strike zones: No more leaving it up to human error (are umpires even human?!?). Have a computer with optical sensors at the plate and dead center call the balls and strikes. This will dramatically cut down the time wasted when frustrated batters step out of the box & aggravated pitchers walk off the mound.
Start giving a 1 strike penalty to batters and 1 ball penalty to pitchers who needlessly waste time and hold up the game adjusting jewelry, cups, etc.
Liabilities? I can only come up with three;
1. "What do you do with the DH rule?" I personally don't give a crap, let the players union vote on it.
2. "If you go and reorganize the leagues, you'll never have a great cross-town post series games" To that I say, we just had one in NYC. The excitement in the city wasn't much higher than it was during other post-season face-offs (or for that matter, during the inter-league Yanks/Mets games). The odds of it happening again are slim and the benefits are overshadowed by reorganization.
3. "The players might go for it, but those moron, tight-ass owners won't" Don't bet on it. I can't cite $, but I can almost guarantee Steinbrenner makes more money (ad revenue, attendance, etc.) during one 4-game stretch against the Bosox than he does on a 14-game west coast road trip. My guess is anyone in the player's union would gladly jump at a the offer of a 5 to 8% pay reduction in exchange for playing 16% less regular series games giving them 3 weeks more time at home with the family.
04-02-2002, 11:53 PM
Originally posted by JohnBckWLD
I realize this is not a life and death topic; hence the “IMHO” forum. Looks like you accidentally posted in GQ, so I'll send this over to IMHO.
I don't wish to be rude, but you start with an awful premise, which is ...
... there’s a growing consensus amongst baseball fans (like myself, who's given this some thought) that something has to be done to shore-up the sport's waning popularity.
Have you bothered to look into the actual attendance figures at MLB games? Because you might be surprised. And I have not heard of any such consensus. Yes we all agree that the labor situation is screwed up, but nothing you have suggested addresses that.
1. League Reorganization:
... With expansion, inter-league play, etc. the days of American & National are dead.
This would make them stay away in droves. Look, when it comes to baseball, nostalgia is what sells. The attendence boom of the last couple of decades has largely been driven by the new ballparks, whose outstanding feature is their "quaint" look and feel. Call them "purists" or whatever you want, but one of the things people like about baseball is it's historical continuity.
The last time the leagues went on a modernizing kick was the 60's and 70's. Astroturf, indoor games, contemporary-looking uniforms, expansion, the DH rule. And attendence dropped or stagnated for years.
Which is not to say all the changes were all bad; but the point is that "jazzing things up" is not what is needed nor what is wanted.
Those interleague games have not been a raging success outside of the obvious NY and Chicago matchups, and your plan only has more of these manufactured "rivalries." You said you were only nmaing a few; in reality you named just about the only new matchups that would generate much passion. Philly/Baltimore, Florida/Tampa, St.Louis/KC, all have in point of fact not drawn huge crowds.
You say that:
...Steinbrenner makes more money (ad revenue, attendance, etc.) during one 4-game stretch against the Bosox than he does on a 14-game west coast road trip.
Maybe so ... but the Yankees draw well, and get good TV ratings; thus the west coast owners would be loath to give them up.
A 136 Game Season:
Do you really think the owners are going to just lop off 16% of their ticket revenue and TV money? For what? So we can end the season before football gets really underway? Even if this were a good idea, it would never happen.
Speeding up the game
This is needed; whatever it's merits, I don't think a computerized strike zone would make a difference in game time. A limit on timeouts, as you suggest, would help, as would a limit on throws to first base when holding runners. The latter would also encourage those fun-to-watch stolen bases.
The game is fine. The game has always been fine. The labor situation is a mess. The labor situation has always been a mess, back to the 1880's. The current problems are something like the flu; and you don't perform surgery for that.
Troy McClure SF
04-03-2002, 02:26 AM
Originally posted by furt
...Astroturf, indoor games, contemporary-looking uniforms, expansion, the DH rule.
Which is not to say all the changes were all bad
Y'don't think? At least for the ones you mentioned there?
And a computerized strike zone seems hideous to me. It sets a precedent that could whittle away at the very foundation of sport in general. Plus, called third strikes are responsible for probably half of umpire/manager screaming fits and player ejections. Not to mention, the obvious (perfectly-legitamate) labor issue of eliminating an entire profession.
Gah! You can't computerize baseball! [weeps in a corner]
Sorry, it's Opening Day here in San Francisco and I'm feeling quite passionate about my game.
04-03-2002, 02:57 AM
I don't know about the rest of ya, but I want a chance to see ALL teams here at Dodger Stadium. I'm excited about the Red Sox coming here this year.
If they want to change the league configuration, that's OK. But I still think every team should play every other team.I realize this is not a life and death topic This statement will not help your credibility as a baseball fan.........:D
04-03-2002, 05:18 AM
Who knew - Selig on the SDMB.
Originally posted by spooje
I don't know about the rest of ya, but I want a chance to see ALL teams here at Dodger Stadium. I'm excited about the Red Sox coming here this year.Haven't they been in Anaheim every year? Isn't that close enough?
I'm one of the people they would lose if radical realignment ever happens. I still haven't gone to one of those interleague travesties and I refuse to do so. In fact, I'm still not quite pleased over the addition of the wildcard to the playoffs. I like the tradition, the nostalgia mentioned in earlier posts. So, if the bizarre regional thing ever happens, I'm gone. (I live in Seattle - who is the cross-town rival? & IIRC, haven't the stats shown that after the first year of interleague, when it was a novelty, the attendance was not noticeably different than it had been before?) If the season is slashed down to 136 games, I'm gone. & no, I don't think I'll be alone. Some of the speeding up of the game suggestions I've read are fine and might be good ideas. Some tamper far too much with the game, and if they're added, I'm gone.
(There's always minor league ball...)
04-03-2002, 05:33 AM
Originally posted by amarinth
Haven't they been in Anaheim every year? Isn't that close enough?
Anahiem is, at minimum, an hour and a half drive, one way, away. I make it down there a couple of times a year (I'm going in 2 weeks:D :D :D ), but I cannot get there regularly.
04-03-2002, 09:48 AM
Originally posted by JohnBckWLD
, there’s a growing consensus amongst baseball fans (like myself, who's given this some thought) that something has to be done to shore-up the sport's waning popularity...
As have others, I must point out that baseball attendance is up, and goes up almost every year. That said:
League Reorganization. I can't agree with you here for two reasons:
i) It will accomplish nothing. What did the NHL's reorganization accomplish? Diddlysquat, aside from making another Leafs-Habs Stanley Cup an impossibility. There's no gain in popularity to be made here.
ii) If anything, it will hurt the sport - maybe not much, but a little. I will disagree with other posters who have said baseball sells nostalgia; what baseball sells, as do other sports, is LEGITIMACY. To make people care about the results of the sport there must be some sense of permanence and consistency, that this year's World Series will be compared to a World Series played under essentially equivalent conditions in 2058, just as we can compare this year's Series to the one in 1935. Getting rid of the National/American League structure for no particular reason removes one small brick in that wall of legitimacy. If there was a good reason to do it I might believe it was worth it... but there isn't.
I simply do not believe that cross-town and regional rivalries have anywhere near the significance people think they do on the bottom line.
136 Game Season - Again, totally impossible.
1. Reducing the season from 162 games to 136 reduces revenue by almost 20%. No frickin' way anyone involved will want this, and I can't blame them. Why would they want to sell less product and make less money? You're insanely overestimating the impact of cross-town rivalries, which A) don't make nearly as much money as you think and B) would be far less interesting anyway if you scheduled a whole bunch of them.
Think about it; how many extra tickets are sold based on the visiting team? Very, very few. I go to 20-25 games a year and I almost never base it on who's playing; like most people, I just go when I can and when I have money. The vast majority of ticket revnues are coming from season's ticket holders and suite rentals, which obviously are not affected by crosstown rivalries, and from casual buyers who just go to a game when their schedules allow. The number of ticket buyers who are NOT season ticket holders but ARE going to enough games and live close enough to the stadium to make decisions between attending different games based on the opponent is very small.
2. Again, you are simply underestimating the critical importance of consistency and LEGITIMACY. If there was a good reason to change the season from 162 games to 156, i'd say go for it. changing it to 136 games is a drastic, drastic step can completely changes the statistical standards of the sport - and in baseball, statistical standards are everything. By going to 136 games you've just eliminated almost all 20-game winners and 200-hit seasons and you've put every season record hopelessly out of reach. No single season record will ever be broken again, except for percentage records. So now we need two record books. The transition from 154 games to 162 was bad enough. Going to 136 would be horrible.
Personally, I like the idea of getting rid of the wild card, although three rounds of playoffs is okay by me.
Speeding up the game - I think this is a good idea. I agree with Bill James; the problem is not the LENGTH of the game, the problem is the PACE. It doesn't really matter if the game goes 2 hours 30 minutes or 2 hours 50; what matters is that MLB is allowing the game's pace to slow to a crawl. There are delays, delays, delays.
1. I think mechanized strike zone calling is a good idea - when it's easily implemented. So far, however, there's no one good way to do it. It's years away yet.
2. Having umpires speed up the game is a good idea, too. They used to; they can do it again, and if calling penalty strikes and balls is necessary, why not?
3. I would STRONGLY suggest that batters be prohibited from leaving the batter's box once they step in, unless their bat breaks or they're legitimately distracted.
04-03-2002, 11:28 AM
Reported attendance goes up every year, but that doesn't mean all of those butts are hitting the seats. Even then, it's not like we are seeing attendance grow by leaps and bounds. The difference between 2000 and 2001 is a grand total of 136,312. Over the span of 2,413 home games that means attendance grew by an astonishing 56 people per game.
The better metric to use would be revenue generated, but with baseball that number could be anything.
My only hope is that Bud Selig gets lost on the way to the office and fades into the foggy reaches of the past.
04-03-2002, 11:32 AM
As an aside, I vote for raising the mound back to 13".
04-03-2002, 11:46 AM
have 3 innings of 9 outs each-- allows for some action to get going
no more "pitcher plays catch with first baseman"-- get on with the game, dammit!
batter stays in the damn box, like mentioned above
shorten the base lines! lets get some dudes on base once in a while!
not radical enough? try these to really spice up the ol' ball game!
you can throw the batter out by beaning him with the ball (after he hits it, while he is running)
the basemen's job is to prevent the runner from reaching the bag- BUT- the batter gets to take his bat with him! (will need smaller bats i think!)
cheerleaders seem like an obvious addition and the crappy organist seems like an obvious deletetion
04-03-2002, 04:22 PM
I like a shorter season, but it's not as bad as the NBA. 3 balls 2 strikes would speed it up. Or 3 balls 3 strikes and have fouls count as strikes.
04-03-2002, 04:33 PM
Originally posted by curious george
I like a shorter season, but it's not as bad as the NBA. 3 balls 2 strikes would speed it up. Or 3 balls 3 strikes and have fouls count as strikes.
So if you hit a foul ball on what would be the third strike, you're out? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the batter trying to have a good at-bat? I think fighting off pitches is a crucial part of the game, you can't take that away.
Some of these ideas to revamp baseball are extreme. I'll just say that the length of the game is less important than the difference in the team's salaries.
You really want to revamp MLB? How about making all the minor league teams independent, massing all the MLB teams into one big division (calling it, I don't know, "The Baseball Premier League"), putting AAA, AA and A teams into Divisions 1, 2 and 3, and introducing promotion and relegation. Works for European soccer, doesn't it?
04-03-2002, 07:37 PM
I just wanted to add one thing about the OP: JohnBckWLD, you say the AL/NL distinction is 'dead,' but you essentially preserve it in your configuration. And as such, putting the crosstown teams in the same league is untenable.
Also, Originally posted by RickJay
like most people, I just go when I can and when I have money. The vast majority of ticket revnues are coming from season's ticket holders and suite rentals, which obviously are not affected by crosstown rivalries, and from casual buyers who just go to a game when their schedules allow. The number of ticket buyers who are NOT season ticket holders but ARE going to enough games and live close enough to the stadium to make decisions between attending different games based on the opponent is very small
I don't know if you're basing this on some statistics I haven't seen or what, but I can tell you from my personal experience that this is false. Here in Oakland in the last two years, a Yankee game is the best guarantee of a near-sellout. The stadium is always packed when the Red Sox come to town (I know because I've been at every Boston/Oakland game in the last 2 seasons), which is rarely true otherwise. Looks to me like many people come to games based on the visiting team.
04-04-2002, 07:42 AM
1. League reorganization: I'd be in favor of rearranging the divisions within the NL and AL. Getting rid of the NL and AL would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
2. Shorter season: I don't see how this would help anything. If I had my druthers, I'd shorten the playoffs instead. Eliminate wildcards. Eliminate that first round. Make only 2 divisions per league (see above) Have one series to determine the NL and AL champs and then have the World Series. By doing this, you'd make the 162 games in the regular season count more (you need to be #1 in your division to get to the league championship) and thus be more interesting.
3. Pace of the game: Computerized strike zone? No way! Changing the rules for balls/strikes/outs? Forget it! Some other suggestions, like the batters box thing, would really help. And limiting the amount of time that Andy Pettitte is allowed to stare at the batter with those freaky eyes of his would help, too.
RickJay makes a good point about the consistency of the game. We can maintain that while still making positive changes.
04-04-2002, 08:43 AM
Originally posted by jjtm
And a computerized strike zone seems hideous to me. It sets a precedent that could whittle away at the very foundation of sport in general.
JJTM, can you expand on this? Personally, I've always thought that some sort of optical/computer sensor system would be a better way to call strikes, so I'm curious as to why you seem to be so passionately against the idea.
I don't think there's a consensus that using the Cyclops has particularly harmed tennis. And fencers have been using an electronic scoring box to determine which fencer touched first for decades now, haven't they?
There are lots of judgement calls in every sport that could never be mechanized, but what's wrong with giving referees and umpires some technological help in those areas where it's possible?
04-04-2002, 08:53 AM
Originally posted by White Lightning
know if you're basing this on some statistics I haven't seen or what, but I can tell you from my personal experience that this is false. Here in Oakland in the last two years, a Yankee game is the best guarantee of a near-sellout. The stadium is always packed when the Red Sox come to town (I know because I've been at every Boston/Oakland game in the last 2 seasons), which is rarely true otherwise. Looks to me like many people come to games based on the visiting team.
Neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox are regional or crosstown opponents of the A's, so how does realignments help here? If there is an attendance jump (and with all due respect I don't think it's as large as you believe; certainly, the A's do not pack the stadium for every Red Sox game) it's transitional, based on who the good teams are right now. Did the A's draw more fans in 1991 when the Yankees stank like last week's salmon?
04-04-2002, 08:55 AM
Would the electronic eye actually be feasible though? In tennis, the lines don't move, but in baseball (based on the rule book) it's depends on the height/bodily dimension of the batter.
Also, would there be issues considering that a strike can occur on a 3 dimensional plane while in tennis it is 2 dimensional.
04-04-2002, 09:51 AM
Originally posted by Mullinator
Would the electronic eye actually be feasible though?I don't know. The missile defence proponents are claiming it's possible to reliably target an incoming warhead traveling through three dimensions at hypersonic velocities, so I guess anything's feasible with enough budget...
But let's assume it is possible for a reasonably-priced machine to accurately determine if a ball passed through a particular batter's strike zone. I'm guessing that there are lots of baseball fans like JJTM who would hate the idea of electronically-called strikes. I'm not sure why, though, and I'd like to hear their opinions.
04-04-2002, 10:54 AM
I'd like to see some changes, but I think historical continuity isn't just important, it's paramount.
I guess the question is, what are the problems? It's important to not fix stuff that isn't broken. And if there's little agreement about what the problems are among fans of the game, then there's probably little reason to fix them.
For instance, my main problem with baseball is the devaluation of the regular season, and the undermining of pennant races, by the wildcard. This seems to be firmly a minority view. As long as that's so, I can hardly expect MLB to rectify it.
Here's my list, in no particular order:
1. The length/pacing of the games, especially in the postseason.
2. The devaluation of regular season games by the wildcard.
3. Too much postseason baseball at once in the Division Series.
4. Uneven competition between large-market and small-market teams.
5. Too few games between division rivals.
6. MLB management that disrespects the history of the game.
7. Too many postseason games finishing up too late at night.
1&7. There seems to be a consensus that the games are too long/slow. And they keep stats on such things, so it's easy to measure. The typical game twenty years ago lasted 2.5 hours, give or take a half hour. Now, IIRC, it's more like just under 3 hours, give or take. And the postseason games go on for-fucking-ever; 4 hours is hardly uncommon. :rolleyes:
It would be interesting (especially for the postseason) to see how much of the time is on-the-field time, and how much is commercial breaks. When I was still watching baseball regularly, I'd been thinking about timing the commercials in a few playoff games, but now that I don't, I haven't bothered.
For night games, of course, there's a direct connection between long games and late-finishing games. I have to wonder why they don't try to do more day games on weekends. The World Series abandoned the daylight hours many years ago; I'm not sure if a reason was given. Maybe they figure they'd lose out to the NFL, but are they afraid to tangle with college football on Saturdays? Sheesh.
2&3. My personal hobbyhorses here, that hardly anyone else cares about. But what the hey, there's a solution to both. First, though, the problems, as I see them:
2: It depends on what you want, I guess. For me, pennant races were always the compelling drama that hooked me on the baseball season. If Team A finished 100-62 and Team B in its division finished 99-63, Team A went on, and Team B's winter began. That fact gives, or used to give, meaning to all 162 of those regular-season games. Give me a chance, and I'll talk your ear off about pennant races. But there hasn't been one since 1993, because it doesn't matter which team finishes with 100 wins, and which with 99.
3: Take a look at the NFL's postseason. They have a lot of teams involved, but it works because they never have more than 2 playoff games per day. You can sit down and watch 6 hours of football.
But MLB's Division Series, OTOH, have four five-game series going on simultaneously, with three or four games each day. Even if some of them weren't scheduled against each other, you still couldn't watch them all. Two MLB playoff series at once produces about as much baseball as it's possible to watch.
Here's my solution: go back to two divisions in each league, but keep the wildcard. Give the team with the best record in each league a first-round bye, and let the winner of the other division and the wildcard team play a 5-game series to play the team with the best record.
This gets you the same three-layered playoff structure, and probably without much loss of TV audience. The wildcard would still exist to keep more teams in the action later in the season, but winning the regular-season championship, so to speak, would mean a great deal.
Of course, this will never happen, as long as people keep going to see regular-season games, because it would mean some loss of postseason revenue. So from the ownership POV, there's no problem. I keep hoping that'll change. :)
4: This has been well-discussed here and elsewhere. To the extent that it's a problem, the natural solution is increased revenue-sharing. Apparently the union has to sign off on revenue-sharing plans, because they would affect player compensation - negatively, so they're agin it. There comes a time for the union to not have the same shortsightedness as the owners, and the time is now.
5. Nothing to be done here, other than possibly abandon interleague play. (Or 'contraction', that dirty word.) The more teams you play, the less you can play any one team.
6. Actually, contraction that got rid of recent expansion teams wouldn't be bad. But killing any of the original 16 AL and NL teams - as Selig is threatening to do - would be an abomination of unprecedented magnitude. They could disband the existing Florida teams, with their brief history, and move the Expos and Twins down to Florida in their place. That would be far less damaging to the continuity of the game than to kill off the Twins, or even the Expos.
Originally posted by RTFirefly
6. Actually, contraction that got rid of recent expansion teams wouldn't be bad. But killing any of the original 16 AL and NL teams - as Selig is threatening to do - would be an abomination of unprecedented magnitude. They could disband the existing Florida teams, with their brief history, and move the Expos and Twins down to Florida in their place. That would be far less damaging to the continuity of the game than to kill off the Twins, or even the Expos. I don't get this one. First off, I don't know where you get 16 original teams in each league. There are currently only 30 teams total. I assume you meant back to the original (sic) 14 teams in each league. And if you are considering contraction of recent expansion teams, why include the Marlins? The most recent expansions were the D-backs and the D-Rays.
Then there's the question of how killing off the Marlins and D-Rays, then moving the Twins and Expos to Tampa and Miami is any different than just killing off the Twins and Expos? What's more important - the historical continuity of the names "Twins" and "Expos" or the historical continuity of baseball in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Montreal? And would those names have any connection to their new locales? That's how you end up with names like "Jazz" in Utah or "Lakers" in LA! I mean, even the Angels move down the road from Los Angeles to Anaheim sort of lost the connection of the name to the place.
And if you're going to consider contraction, why only focus on contraction to the original 28 teams? What makes 28 a good number, but 30 bad? Why not contract down to the original 16 teams that played prior to the first expansion in 1960? Get rid of the Angels, the Rangers (which are really the expansion Senators, but keep the Twins which are really the original Senators), the Astros, the Mets, the Royals, the Expos, the Padres, the Brewers (which are really the expansion Seattle Pilots), the Blue Jays, the Mariners, the Rockies, the Marlins, the D-Backs, and the D-Rays. Then move the Dodgers back to Brooklyn, the Giants back to New York, the A's back to Philadelphia (skipping Kansas City), the Braves back to Boston (skipping Milwaukee), the Orioles back to St. Louis and rename them the Browns, and the Twins back to Washington and rename them the Senators. Then baseball will be concentrated back in the Northeast and Midwest and screw the rest of the country!
Too many teams, IMHO, is not the problem. The real problem is too few teams with the financial power of the Yankees or the Braves.
04-04-2002, 12:30 PM
I figure I should offer some constructive thoughts as well. I think baseball needs changes in three basic areas:
1. Length of games. I personally feel the games are wayyyy too slow. Their being LONG isn't a big deal, but being slow is bad. Baseball is a game of tension and anticipation; if you allow too many delays the tension bleeds off. I feel the following changes are needed:
A) Limitations on the batter's ability to leave the box once he has taken his position there. If you haven't broken a bat, you can't leave to scratch yourself.
B) I believe limiting a pitcher's pickoff attempts is a good idea and would introduce an element of strategy, as well as speeding up the game. It would also increase basestealing, which isn't a bad thing.
C) I would like to see the time between innings reduced, although that's improbable.
2. The batter-pitcher balance is swinging towards the batter to a historically extreme extent. I believe this is in large part due to non-enforcement of rules, as well as the fact that hitters are just bigger and stronger than ever before.
Now: I am vehemently opposed to the recent decision to ban protective equipment for batters. Viciously, angrily opposed. The decision to prevent batters from wearing protective equipment to save themselves from injury is, IMHO, an absolutely disgusting, stupid, and completely ass-backwards approach to the problem of crowding the plate. It is a classic example of people attempting to solve one problem by creating another. IMHO, MLB is commiting what borders on a crime of negligence. I cannot believe the stupidity involved in this decision or the stupidity of those who support it.
To keep hitters from crowding the plate, the solution is ENFORCE THE GODDAMNED BATTER'S BOX. Move it back a few inches if need be. If you set up outside the box and hit the ball you're out automatically. If you take the pitch it's a strike no matter what, and the umpire tells you to get your damned feet back into the box. In my opinion enforcing the batter's box would solve many, many problems. It would prevent hitters from diving over the plate and setting up too close and getting hit by pitches, and you could let them wear protective equipment again. You'd also give the pitchers an edge they pretty obviously need, and maybe reduce this ridiculous home run barrae without screwing around with the height of the mound.
I simply can't believe this hasn't been done already, or that they decided batters couldn't wear pads. What idiocy.
3. MLB needs revenue sharing, at least with respect to televised games. I am of the opinion that the appropriate seteup is for proceeds from all locally televised games to be split 50/50 between the two teams competing. Makes perfect sense to me.
A salary cap is just an owners' scam.
4. MLB needs a new commissioner. New leadership, fast.
Really, everything else hinges on this. Slow games or no, the fact of the matter is the MLB is led by liars and cheats. As long as Selig and his ilk run the sport they'll continue to do stupid, destructive things. Selig has screwed up again, and again, and again. He has lied, lied, and lied some more. The sport will always be in trouble as long as he's in charge.
04-04-2002, 12:32 PM
I generally agree with furt's comments that Major League Baseball is not suffering from any serious ailments, but there are some things I would propose tweaking (in no particular order).
1) Revenue imbalance. I think there is a small problem here, although it is being ridiculously overhyped by the used car salesman pretending to have the game's best interest at heart (Bud Selig). It is very difficult for a club in a small market to compete with a club in a large market. Essentially, you have to have some good luck and very intelligent executives.
It seems to me that most of the propsoed solutions regarding revenue sharing are completely wrong. It strikes me as ludicrous that the Anaheim Angels can receive revenue sharing funds from the Seattle Mariners, given the relative size of their markets. Anaheim should get more in revenue than Seattle, they're just not as well run. Revenue sharing based on revenue punishes well-run clubs and rewards incompetence.
I would propose some sort of sharing agreement based on market size, i.e., the potential revenue stream. This will give a boost to teams in genuinely small markets without rewarding "loafers" in larger markets.
On a side note, I think that the solution to the escalation in players' salaries is not some sort of salary cap. All a salary cap will do is guarantee more profits to the owners. It certainly won't lower prices for fans nor is it likely to do a lot to solve whatever competitive imbalance problems may exist. Instead, the solution to capping players' salaries (even assuming that should be a goal) is for the owners to keep their wallets in their pockets.
2) The draft. Teams should be able to trade draft picks. That would help out teams that, for whatever reason, choose not to meet high salary demands of the most sought after draftees because those teams could trade the pick and get value in return. As the system is currently constituted, they must pass over the more "valuable" player to pick someone lesser.
Also, the draft should probably be gradually extended worldwide, although I'm not passionate about that.
3) Length of game. The umpires should start enforcing some existing rules, as opposed to the current policy of talking about enforcing rules and not actually doing it. Make the batters get in the box quicker and keep them from getting out of it. Rushing relief pitchers, as MLB is doing this year, seems to me to be a very stupid way of speeding up games.
4) Crowding the plate. First, don't award first base to someone hanging out over the plate who makes no effort to avoid the pitch (or a half-hearted effort). Second, make batters actually stay in the batter's box, as opposed to in the general vicinity. It could be that the size and location of the batters' box should be reconsidered in light of modern game conditions, including bigger hitters.
5) Scheduling / reorganization of leagues. I don't think there's a huge problem here. If I was god of all things baseball, I'd have two divisions in each league, a championship series and then the world series. However, it's not going to happen because no one (owners or players) wants to give up the extra revenue that expanded playoffs provide.
6. Contraction. Contraction is not a solution to any single problem in the game today. Instead, it is a threat used by the owners (1) in labor negotiations (we'll wipe out 50 high paid jobs) and (2) to extort stadiums from taxpayers (buy us a shiny palace or we'll wipe out the team. I find it very hard to believe that even the owners genuinely think contraction is in the best interest of the game. My personal opinion is that they will extort a stadium from Minneapolis and move the Expos to DC, selling it for $400 million or so. However, contraction will "remain an option" so as to continue extorting new stadiums in cities like Oakland, Miami, etc.
I can't even identify a problem that contraction potentially solves, so it's hard for me to discuss it rationally.
I noticed on preview that Rickjay just made several of the same points that I did, so I guess I'm echoing him. I also fully agree on the disgusting slime currently running the game.
On a second reading, I think RTF is referring to 16 total original AL and NL teams (8 per league). My mistake.
But I stand behind my assertion that baseball has been adding and moving teams throughout its history, and nobody has really complained. Well, except for that whole Dodgers/Giants move back in the 1950s.
Why was expansion to 10 AL teams in 1961 and 10 NL teams in 1962 not a problem? Why was expansion to 12 teams in each league in 1969 not a problem? Why was expansion to 14 AL teams in 1977 and 14 NL teams in 1993 not a problem? But all of a sudden, adding 2 more teams in 1998 caused baseball to go down the drain! I just don't get it.
IMHO, baseball's current problems have their roots in the early 80s when Ted Turner's WTBS and Tribune's WGN cable channels spread Braves and Cubs baseball across the US at the expense of other teams. A simplistic explanation, yes, but a valid one, I think. The real problem in baseball is that only a few teams have the financial base to be consistently competetive. Other teams just can't buy the number of top players Steinbrenner can.
Personally, I think baseball could handle a few more teams if the playing field was leveled. I say put some teams in Charlotte, Nashville, San Antonio, and New Orleans. And spread the wealth around a little bit.
04-04-2002, 06:19 PM
The game must be sped up. Several years ago I went to a game that was supposed to start at 7 pm, but there was a tremendous rainstorm that hit the ballpark right at game time. It was the visiting team's last trip into town for the year so they had to get the game in and they waited until 10 pm to start the game. I tell you, that was the most crisply played major league game I've ever seen. Everyone, from the players to the umps to the ballboys, hustled. Nobody screwed around getting in and out of the batters box or standing around the pitchers' mound checking out the blonde babe in the third row. The score was 8-6 or thereabouts and the game only took 2 and 1/2 hours, so I know it is possible to play a fast-paced ball game when everybody wants to do it. The next day's game, however, it was back to droopy, drag it out 3 hours play.
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