If you were king for a day, how would you change baseball for the better?
If you were king for a day, how would you change baseball for the better? Here's one man's pitch ... Baseball
By Chris Jenkins
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
June 19, 2006
Allen H. Selig and I, sad to say, have pretty much the same haircut. Also the same befuddled look on our faces at all hours of the day.
Bud's had his turn as commissioner of baseball and pretty much botched the job. Under his watch, the World Series went dark and baseball's reputation grew even darker, the darkest since the Black Sox scandal.
When the game came rushing back in 1998 toward unprecedented popularity, it did so under false pretenses and came at a steep price. The escalated salaries and new ballparks, almost all built one way or another on a foundation of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, drove the prices sky-high and made the national pastime less accessible to its fans.
You have to give it to him, though. Bud figured out a way to make the All-Star Game meaningful.
Anyway, after 14 years, it should be somebody else's turn at the top. Might as well be mine.
As acting commissioner (isn't that precisely how Bud started?), these are my demands:
Blood tests. Every day.
Better yet. Leeches. The mere thought of those slimy little bloodsuckers should be enough to finally convince even the steroidin'est, HGH'in'est, most geeked-up ballplayer to stay clean.
All bats must be made of the same type of wood, and not the modern balsa kind that explodes when a hitter taps home plate with it. If the MLBPA is truly all about protecting its players, it should institute a safety standard for bat makers to follow. Might even save a few trees ... not to mention lives. Seriously. Somebody's going to get killed, either on the field or in the stands.
Pitchers hereafter shall be allowed to touch their fingers to mouths on the mound. Hell, let 'em all load up from here to Niagara Falls. Given the claustrophobic size of the new ballparks, the diminished art of pitching and crackdown on various other juices, a lot of these guys will be needing all the help their arms can get.
Baseball folk will cease using “too expensive” as an excuse for anything, particularly a more elaborate form of drug testing. The average player salary is up to $2.3 million a year. The Washington Nationals just sold for $420 million, a nice little windfall for owners of the 29 other teams, most of whom already are raking it in hand over tightly wadded fist. Whatever thousands of dollars the best tests available would cost – and the restored credibility they would bring – it's car-wash money to these dudes.
First pitch on playoff and World Series games are to be delivered before the monologues by either Letterman or Leno, whichever comes first. Ratings may be boffo for postseason games that start in prime time and are commercialized out to last until 1:30 a.m. on the East Coast, but the game is losing generation after generation of kids either in bed or crashed on the couch when Albert Pujols hits that 14th-inning homer to the moon. Try a day game one World Series weekend. Just once. For old time's sake.
Each club can feel free to install an espresso machine, and uniformed attendant, next to the Gatorade cooler in its dugout. Put it in the place of the old amphetamine jar.
The NL West ... aw, never mind.
To level the playing field, institute the “designated pitcher” in the American League, whereby each club can identify one pitcher in every game who'll face only the opponent's designated hitter.
On second thought, that's stupid. Do away with the DH altogether. Now!
Every person in America should receive the gift of just one more inning of Vin Scully before it's too late.
A crack team of archaeologists and paleontologists will be commissioned to present irrefutable proof to the networks that there is life outside Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.
The embarrassingly hopeless franchise owned by David Glass hereby is renamed the Kansas City Boils. Or, perhaps more fittingly, the Royal Flush. At the very least, withhold the franchise's revenue-sharing check.
A bonfire is to be built in downtown Cooperstown to burn the infernal “Book” that almost every manager seems to use as his Bible.
With every intentional walk, the batter will be given not only first base, but second as well. Hey, fair's fair. The guys getting the four-finger treatment – Barry Bonds, Pujols, Jim Thome – are in scoring position when they step up to the plate anyway.
Electrodes are to be placed strategically beneath the mound and batter's boxes, set at just 120 volts and planted at cleat depth, timed to go off every 30 seconds between pitches. It's the latest and most desperate, but far more entertaining, attempt at speeding up what's already the slowest game this side of Australian-rules mah-jong.
The “unwritten rules” are to be written. Just so everybody can see how dumb they – the rules, that is – really are.
Bring back the cheap seats. By the thousands.
Finally, but most importantly, and most impossibly, the attitude of major league players (and even some minor leaguers) has to change. Down with the jockocracy. That “it's-our-world” mentality and sense of entitlement that permeates baseball at every professional level – far more than any other sport – is what got it into such a huge mess. The commissioner intends this not as a wholesale indictment. There are still some great ballplayers who are greater guys who understand they have to live by the same rules as the rest of society. But even most of them looked the other way while the cheats dragged their game into the quagmire.
P.S. For every game in which Bonds doesn't hit a home run – going back to the date of his possibly perjurious grand jury testimony – a homer will be subtracted from his career total.
What the heck. You're only commissioner once.
The late great Hunter S. Thompson provided the following suggestions for baseball. This was part of his espn page 2 column...which I guess is dead now...so there is no link.
Hi, folks. My name is Thompson, and I don't have much space for this high-speed presentation, so let's get started and see how tight we can make it. My job is to devise a whole new set of rules and concepts to shorten the time it takes to play a game of Major League BASEBALL, or any other kind.
Everybody agrees that Baseball games Must be shortened, but nobody is really Working on it. ... And meanwhile, the games get longer and longer. The good old "meat in the seats" argument won't work after midnight, when the seats are mainly Empty, and TV networks get nasty when they start having to refund money to advertisers when the ratings sink lower and lower. Pro wrestling and golf are bigger draws than baseball games. ... I have not been to a live baseball game in 20 years, and I hope I Never see another one. Not even the New Rules would drag me back to the Ballpark -- but I am a Doctor of Wisdom, a professional man, and some of my friends in the Business have asked me to have a look at this problem, which I have, and this is my solution, for good or ill.
I am keenly aware of the angst and bitter squabbling that will erupt when somebody tries to screw with the National Pastime. ... But it must be done, and if I don't do it somebody else will. So here's the plan.
ELIMINATE THE PITCHER: This will knock at least one hour off the length of a game, which is now up to 3:42. One World Series game took five hours and 20 minutes, which is unacceptable to everybody except the Pitchers. Yes. ... So we will ELIMINATE THE PITCHERS, and they won't be missed. Pitchers, as a group, are pampered little swine with too much money and no real effect on the game except to drag it out and interrupt the action.
LIMIT ALL GAMES TO THREE (3) HOURS: Like football and basketball and hockey, the Baseball game will end at a fixed time. THE SCORE, at that moment, WILL BE FINAL, based on an accumulation of TOTAL BASES IN 3 hours.
ALL BASE-RUNNERS MAY RUN TO ANY BASE (but not backward) -- First to Third, Second to Home, etc. And with NO PITCHER in the game, this frantic scrambling across the infield will be Feasible and Tempting.
ALL "PITCHING", by the way, will be done by a fine-tuned PITCHING MACHINE that pops up out of the mound, delivers a remote-controlled "pitch" at the batter, and then drops back out of sight, to free up the whole infield for running. ... If a batter hits a home run with the bases loaded, for instance, his team will score 16 total bases (or 16 points). But, if it's 3 up and 3 down in an inning, that team will score Zero points.
Think of 22-5, perhaps, or 88-55. Yes sir, we will have Huge scores and constant speedy action for three straight hours.
The heroes of the game will be CATCHERS, not Pitchers. The CATCHER will dominate the game and be the highest-paid player. ... With no Pitcher and no Mound to disrupt the flow, runners on base will be moving at the crack of the bat, and it will be the catcher's job to shut them down or pick them off whenever possible. Foot-speed and a bazooka throwing arm will be paramount. ... There will be no more of this bull about Bullpens and Managers scratching their heads on TV for hours on end, no more lame pick-off throws to first, no more waving off signs and agonized close-ups while pop fouls bounce off the roof.
No, there will be no such thing as a base on balls. Each batter will get five "pitches" from the robot -- only FIVE (5) and if he doesn't get a hit by then, he is Out. ... And the CATCHER will control the kind of drop or curve or speed he wants the machine to throw. And it will obey.
Those damn pitching machines can put a Slider past you at 98 miles an hour five times in a row, with no problem. They can throw hideous wavering knuckleballs and half-moon curves -- all depending and according to what the CATCHER wants to dial up on his remote-control unit. He can even order that the batter be whacked in the ribs by a 102-mph fastball, although that will cost his team TWO (2) bases, instead of one. And you won't want to have some poor Cuban drilled in the ribs when you're nursing a 31-30 lead.
OK, folks, that's it for now. I am already late, and I have written too many words -- but the Concept is sound, I think, and there is a clear and desperate Need for it. ...
Next spring ESPN will put my theories to the test by sponsoring a series of "New Rules" baseball games in New York, Chicago, Omaha and Seattle, among others. ...Tickets will be sold and big-time sports talent will be employed. The success or failure of these Games will determine the fate of Baseball in America.
Purists will b**** and whine, but so what? Purists will Always b**** and whine. That is their function. Res Ipsa Loquitor.
My idea to improve the game is more simple: if the batter doesn't swing at the pitch, he cannot leave the batter's box.
Think about it
And I had a MUCH better idea than Bud Selig, re: the All-Star game he "called" as a tie for lack of pitchers a few years ago. MY IDEA would've had the phone lines burning up across America that night, as the game's ratings would have set all-time records! And baseball wouldda received well-deserved great publicity.
How, you ask?
Simple ... follow the rules.
Out of pitchers? Too bad .... but put somebody on that mound to pitch to the next batter, or I'll award him first base! See? THE RULES OF THE GAME! That's what would happen in a regular game ... the ump would wait a few moments, then penalize the team in the field for delay of game, and award the batter first base. THAT'S the rules of the game.
Back to that All-Star game ... so, Dusty Baker (or whomever) is out of useable pitchers? Put a SS or LF on the mound. The players would laugh and get red-faced as they swing for the fences, but ground to short ... it would be a Home-Run Derby during a game, and many balls would fly outta the park. Every Joe Six-Pack in America would be on the phone, calling their buddies:
It would only last 20 or 30 minutes tops, but imagine the fun as 10 or more runs are scored until we have a winner. (I was screaming at the TV!)"Dude! Turn the game on! You gotta see this! Adam Dunn is pitching to David Ortiz! No, serious, dude ... and Thome is on deck! No, dude ... they ran outta pitchers!"
I would stuff Bud Selig and B*rry B*nds into the trunk of a big muscle car from the 70s. Then I would just crash it into **** until it stopped running.
I'd install a hard salary cap & floor with TV revenues split equally amongst all teams, regardless if a team had it's own network or not....period.
I would eliminate third base, plant trees in the outfield, and replace all the existing players with hot Amish women.
I would require all new stadiums. And they would all have to be built on lands owned and operated by Native American tribes. They would get the franchises for free, so long as they install slot machines in the bleachers and cigar shops in the restrooms.
To reduce overall player salaries, I would eliminate the center-fielder position. I would replace it with a big jumbotron which would show select splatter/vengeance exploitation films from the late 70's, such as "I Spit on Your Grave" and "Last House on the Left."
I would also reduce the game to 8 innings, and allow the fans to shoot toy arrows, with rubber tips, at the team managers and batboys.
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