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Old 06-19-2006, 07:38 PM   #1
Taco John
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Default 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.

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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.
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