A response to Changes We Could Believe In by Nick DeWitt
Changing baseball is good. But too often it seems as if a reactionary element of the MLB fanbase automatically denounces any innovation as heresy. Take the DH rule.
The DH has extended the careers of popular players who would otherwise be forced into retirement and has created a niche for players with a very specific set of skills. I liked seeing Frank Thomas make a comeback. I liked rooting for Edgar Martinez. And while I think it is great to see Mike Hampton or Carlos Zambrano occasionally blast one out of the stadium, I wouldn’t trade that for the 30- and 40-homer seasons I’ve seen David Ortiz put up. That Big Papi can rise to such a beloved, iconic status is evidence that other fans feel this way, too.
I stumbled upon Bleacher Report, and one of the first articles I read on the site really inspired (read: bothered) me, and so I figured I would respond to Nick DeWitt’s Commissioner fantasy.
DeWitt uses this sort of “old is good; change is bad” attitude to make recommendations for improving the game. Except for one recommendation (which is actually not a recommendation, but a request to keep things the same), I disagree with everything he says. Let me break it down for you.
The recommendations are his; the responses are mine.
"Remove the Corporate Sponsorships from Stadium Names"
Honestly, does calling a stadium PETCO Park or Citizen’s Bank Park make you not want to go there? Does it make you think less of the players who play there? People who don’t want corporate sponsorship for things they like don’t understand that those corporate sponsors are supporting the thing they like.
Corporate sponsors for ballparks means the game is healthy and being invested in. If you’re looking for an interest that isn’t supported by corporate America, try on a pair of girl jeans and start trolling MySpace music’s “indie” section. Baseball is not for you.
"How about a New All-Star Game Format?"
DeWitt wants the game to be played every year in Cooperstown, without players from all 30 clubs, and without the old timers’ softball game. I want the game to be played in many different cities across America so that more than just upstate New Yorkers can attend. I want every team to have an All-Star so that more than just New Yorkers can play in it.
Also, trying to root the All-Star game in Cooperstown’s history while trying to stop old players from playing is like saying you like Sting, just not his music.
"No More DH"
See above. DeWitt says the AL and NL should be “playing the same game.” They are: baseball. Don’t get it twisted just because Roy Halladay doesn’t pick up a bat.
"The Pipe Dream"
DeWitt wants to bring the Dodgers back to Brooklyn. Several trends are emerging in DeWitt’s suggestions: 1) They are dinosaur moves that imply all the good stuff in baseball already happened, and we should just try and go back to those moments. 2) He is one of those people who think the world revolves around NYC. 3) He doesn’t have good ideas.
"Re-Zoning the Divisions"
DeWitt wants the divisions to have 15 teams each. While this may displease his numerological aesthetic, it’s a whole lot easier to schedule games for leagues when those leagues have an even number of teams.
"The New Commish"
DeWitt says Selig should step down and a strong-willed new guy like the Pirates’ Frank Coonelly should step up. I’m not saying Bud needs to stick around—he did fall asleep at the wheel on the whole steroids era—but let’s not forget how successful and dynamic the business of baseball has become under Selig.
The six divisions, the Wild Card, increased revenue sharing, MLB.com, the MLB Network, today’s steroid testing policy—all these are a positive part of his legacy. Coonelly has been serving as the Pirates president since 2007. I would rather have someone with a little more experience and a little more of Selig’s dynamism.
"Level the Playing Field"
DeWitt wants a salary cap for baseball. First, the way a team improves is not just through money. Yankees fans know that throwing money at a team doesn’t necessarily make it better, while Twins fans know you don’t need money to make a good team.
Second, having some dynasties is good for baseball, because it lends the game a sense of consistency that the NFL, with almost any team being able to make it any year, lacks.
"Keep the WBC Going!"
I agree; this is awesome. It is also not a real recommendation, since it doesn’t change what’s going on.