Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blog Bat Around: The Commissioner

David from Indians Baseball Cards Has issued a new round of Blog Bat Around. This new installment deals with the announcement of Bud Selig finally giving up his "temporary" power as acting commissioner in 2012.

What would you do as MLB's next commissioner? Would you stand pat or would you issue a plethora of changes? What would be your legacy?

With much thought, I narrowed many ideas, some with merit, some Nikola Tesla crazy, and came up with the ideas that most made sense to me. There wouldn't be anything as disturbing as caught steroid users wearing pink versions of their uniforms with frilly lace. Although that could be an effective deterrent. Instead, I will focus on a few on field and a few off the field changes.

If I were given the reigns of baseball commissioner after Bud Selig stepped down, I would change a few things about the game we love.

First let’s go with the on field changes.

I would add two teams to the American League. This would not only ensure that every team plays the same amount of interleague games, it would even teams out between the leagues. The first team would be located in Central Canada, possibly Winnipeg, Manitoba. The people of Winnipeg already support their minor league Goldeyes. Another team in Canada is a must. The farther away the team is from the debacle in Montreal, the better off it will be. Vancouver, British Columbia is too close to Seattle. Winnipeg is far enough from Minneapolis to be successful. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Edmonton, Alberta are also possibilities.

The second team would be located in a central location between the West Coast and the Midwest. More than likely in Billings, Montana. It has a population over 100,000. It is also located in MLB’s version of the Bermuda Triangle. These two locations would expand the popularity of the MLB without sacrificing the territories of established MLB teams.

The 162 game season would also bring some changes. April and September will be exclusively dedicated to divisional play. Every team will start play within their division and each team will end play within their division. This should create a sense of urgency at the beginning of the season and exciting pennant races at the end. To accomplish a smooth transition, each league will be split into four equal divisions. There will be no wild card team. The winner of each division will enter the playoffs. The existing three tier system will stay in place. Two divisional games and one championship game per league, with each league’s winner meeting in the World Series.

Interleague play will remain, but will be played throughout the months of May and June through mid-July. Eight teams will play interleague games at any given time throughout this time period. The other twenty-four teams will play regular league games. Each team will play six interleague series (three home, three away) during this time. This will ensure that fans of interleague play will have something to watch and fans of regular league play will always have something to watch during the two and a half months leading up to the All-Star Game.

The All-Star Game will no longer determine home field advantage in the World Series. It will be just an exhibition game. Regardless, it will be played until a winner is declared. Each team will be allowed to ask MLB players in good standing (current or retired) watching the game in the stands to enter the game in the event that extra players are needed. Players in the stands have the right to refuse, but will suffer the humiliation of ridicule, unless injured. To help ensure that players take the game seriously without the added implications of home field advantage, the All-Star MVP will also receive a monetary bonus that is equal to one year of his current salary.

The designated hitter position will remain in the American League parks only. Connie Mack originally thought of the DH position back in 1906. That legacy and link to our past will remain.

Now for the off the field changes.

Any lifetime ban will be upheld, without question or discussion. Once a player is deceased, he will be reinstated and will be entitled to any benefits or accolades that a player in good standing would be eligible for. Simply put, this would mean that players like Buck Weaver will be reinstated and could receive legitimate votes towards Hall of Fame consideration. Players such as Pete Rose would not be eligible for this treatment until they are deceased. A lifetime ban should only cover the individual’s lifetime. As long as a banned player is alive, he will receive no acknowledgment from MLB.

A salary cap would be in place, which would be determined during postseason play, and announced at the conclusion of the World Series, for the next year. Each team that exceeds the salary cap will be subject to a luxury tax that is equal to the amount over said salary cap. In addition, each team that exceeds the salary cap will have ticket prices and concessions half the price of the previous season for any amount of time that they are in excess of the salary cap. This will hopefully curb abuse of the salary cap by hitting a team in the pocketbook more than any luxury tax, alone, would be able to do. If a team wants to exceed the cap, it will cost them dearly.

I think these changes, while possibly unpopular at first, will allow the game to naturally grow and thrive into the lexicon of the 21st century. They should allow every team to be more in control of their own destiny and expand MLB into previously untapped territories. It will also allow the population to focus more on the sport itself rather than the questionable decisions past commissioners.

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