MLB: Changes We Could Believe in

Nick DeWitt@@nickdewitt11Analyst IMarch 19, 2009

Every organization has to go through some adaptations every now and again to keep things lively, exciting, competitive, and successful.

Baseball is no different. 

In some ways, baseball is overdue for an overhaul.  Things haven't been revisited for years-decades in some cases-that should be looked into for possible changes.

Here is a list of rules, gameplay format, stadiums, and other things that I would suggest as potentially beneficial changes. These, of course, could not be things changed overnight and some might not be able to be changed at all. They're just my ideas.

Call it a "What Would You Do As Commissioner" list. And my challenge is for everyone to leave a comment either agreeing or disagreeing and also adding things you would like to change if you were the boss.

1. Remove the Corporate Sponsorships from Stadium Names

The fallout from Citi buying the naming rights for the new Mets ballpark would never have been an issue in the days before corporate sponsorships. Could you imagine if the protests had actually caused the stadium to be called "Tax Payer Field" or whatever disaster they were brewing?

Baseball stadiums and corporate sponsorships don't mix.  When I have kids, I don't want to take them into Pittsburgh and say something like: "Well, there's the park.  It used to be PNC Park, but then they got bought out and it became PNC-National City Park, then they went under so now we just call it the park because no one knows the exact name."

I want to take them into town and say: "Look, there's Forbes Field. The name is legendary and its been passed down from one of the old stadiums they used to play at."

What was wrong with Forbes Field, the Polo Grounds, or Shibe Park? How about Tiger Stadium?  Even if a corporation has to sponsor a team's home field, couldn't the settle for "The Polo Grounds, sponsored by Citi" or something like that?  I think it makes for a better experience.  I know its a small change, but its a big deal to old fashioned fans like me.

2.  How about a new All-Star Game format?

There's a lot right with the All-Star Game in baseball. But there's also a lot wrong with it. 

So I propose a totally new format.

Right or wrong, baseball's past is in Cooperstown, NY. Maybe it's time we moved the All-Star game there, too. I'd like to tie in the game's great history with the All-Star festivities. What's wrong with a little history lesson to go along with all of those home runs?

Also, dump the gimmicks. The celebrity softball game is a joke. I can't stand it. Former major leaguers and cocky, overacting celebrities play an outrageous game of softball before the All-Star game. Drop that.

Keep the home run derby. But how about we have the home run leaders, regardless of whether or not they're on the teams, hitting and we have pitchers actually throw some pitches. Or even better, have a young vs. old derby. I bet some of those guys could still rake BP fastballs.

While we're at it, how about we eliminate the automatic roster spots for players from bad teams. Mark Redman should never have been an All-Star.  Seriously.  The All-Star game should be played by the best players in the majors, regardless of how many each team ends up with.

Also, the players should select All-Stars too.  The fans play favorites.  Players are much more respectful of each other's talent. I think it would produce a much better game.

3. No More DH

Okay, I know this is unpopular. It also has its supporters. I think both leagues should play the same game. I also think that pitchers should have to try to help their cause. 

Every year, the AL has much higher ERAs because pitchers have to contend with nine hitters rather than eight hitters and a weak-hitting pitcher.

The quality of pitcher batting has improved markedly to the point where guys like Carlos Zambrano and Micah Owings do as much damage with their bat as they do on the mound.

Why force pitchers to sit the bench so an old timer can bang out a few last hits from the DH spot or a defensively subpar player can still hit?

I think the DH allows you to carry a one dimensional player on your team. Nothing against David Ortiz, but if there was no DH rule, he'd have a harder time getting a job.  His first-sack defense is unspectacular and he's injury prone if he plays in the field.

Some AL pitchers, once they come to the NL, are quite good batters. Maybe it's time both leagues played equal games and the DH rule disappeared the same way as the walks counting as hits did a century ago.

4. The Pipe Dream

Okay, so everyone's big wish list for something has a few things they obviously can't have. Here's mine.

I want the Dodgers back in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn has one of the most historic ties to baseball and was home to some of the game's most iconic moments.

The Dodgers should never have left and I bet a lot of Brooklynites would love to root for a hometown team once again. 

New York supported three teams for decades.  I think they could do it again.  New Yorkers are some of the most sports savvy people out there.  Why not bring the Dodgers home?

I know it's never going to happen and that the logistics are ridiculous, but I can dream can't I?  And I'll always have the blue hat with the white B stitched onto it too.

5. Re-Zoning the Divisions

I don't understand why there are 16 teams in the NL and only 14 in the AL. It makes no sense. Send someone over there. Here's a few options that might help.

-Move the Astros to the AL West. This would give each league 15 teams and each division at least five. This is probably the easiest move.

-Completely redistrict so that teams are geographically in the right division. The problem here is that most of the teams are in locations that make sense even if it robs regional rivalries in some markets. This is by far the hardest and least likely scenario.

The biggest issue I have is the six team NL Central. Time to take someone out of there somehow and make six five-team divisions in two leagues.

6. The New Commish

I wonder if Bud Selig will really try to stay on after his contract is up. Hasn't he had enough?

Like him or hate him, our friend Bud has probably been through more turmoil than other commissioners. He also is being blamed for all of it.

Some of it really is his fault. 

My idea? He should step down as soon as his contract expires.  Leave as gracefully as possible. Then bring in a pit bull like the NFL did.

The NFL didn't really need Roger Goodell. Baseball does. It needs a tough guy who isn't afraid to be hated and unpopular because he's doing the right thing.

Baseball needs a principal. One name that comes to mind is Pirates' Prez Frank Coonelly. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy.

7. Level the Playing Field

No, don't take away the mound. But how about some salary capping? How about a better use of revenue sharing money?

A salary cap is a bad word, but look at what it did for the NFL and NHL. Teams that couldn't contend (the Pittsburgh Penguins and New England Patriots come to mind) consistently in an uncapped league in the 21st century suddenly found themselves in the think of success.

Who's to say that the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals, and Kansas City Royals (among others) couldn't benefit from a little bit of salary cap relief?

It's time to allow smaller market teams to compete with the big guns.  The only way to do it, unfortunately, is a salary cap that operates in addition to things like arbitration and free agency.

8. Keep the WBC Going!

The World Baseball Classic is a great way to put baseball on the world stage.  It still has some flaws, namely its time frame (during Spring Training) that need to be worked out, but it is a great formula.

The worst thing that could happen to baseball is for the WBC to fold up.  I think the setup every four years is excellent.  It just needs some minor tweaks now.

So that's what needs to happen to baseball. At least, that's what I think should happen to baseball.

What do you readers think?  Add comments with your opinion and your ideas for improvement of our national pastime!


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