Six Changes that MLB Needs to Make—Now
I love the game of baseball—just not the way Bud Selig, Don Fehr, and others are running the Major Leagues right now. I emphasize major leagues, as for many people, minor leagues are a better value.
Here's a brief list of sweeping changes that need to be made to fix problems in Major League Baseball today. Some are the business side of the game, others deal with changes on the field.
Unfortunately, no Steve Phillips jokes here. That would have just been too easy.
Team Payroll Cap
Simple question: Which of the four major sport leagues has a salary cap?
If you said the NFL and NHL, you're wrong.
The NBA is the only league that has a real salary cap. There is a cap on how much a player can make depending on his years in the league, draft position, and whether he's trying to re-sign with the same team or move to another team.
You don't hear about "maximum contracts" in the NHL, NFL, or MLB because those sports don't have salary caps.
The NFL and NHL have "Team Payroll Caps"—not salary caps.
I hate how for years the athletes, especially in Major League Baseball, have complained how their "entitled" to complain when the millions some of them are making isn't enough, and that there's no right to cap salaries.
The problem is they use the wrong terminology in the process without really comprehending the concept.
Congress stepping in may not be the worst idea. The effect that the payroll caps have had on the NFL and NHL include increased parity and player movement, while making the games more competitive and entertaining and giving an advantage to the teams that scout, coach, play, and manage the best—not the ones with the most money.
However, teams should also have a payroll floor, as owners shouldn't be able to just pocket money from revenue sharing.
Alex Rodriguez can still get his juiced $27.5 million per year annual salary, but he'll have to realize there will be less money to pay the other 24 players on the roster.
Ryan Howard is the typical slugger—a lot of home runs, but a lot of strikeouts. He's entertaining and overall good for the game. I wish I could hit the ball as hard and as far as he can.
But after hitting .251, isn't there something wrong with going to a judge and saying, in essence, "I deserve an $8 million-a-year pay raise. $10 million isn't enough I think I should get $18 million"?
Arbitration is the real reason salaries for the best players, and some second tier players, are way too high—a price which goes down to the fans who have to spend $100 for two seats and a couple of drinks and hot dogs at the game unless they choose to sit in the 500 level in row Q.
Howard is one of many (Carlos Zambrano also comes to mind) who have the wrong idea about arbitration.
I realize the players won't give that up without getting something in return. So let's make free agency after four full years of Major League service. As a result, no more arbitration.
The way the draft is done in Major League Baseball is a joke.
I understand international players are a big part of the game. But they should have to go through the same process as those coming out of high school, college, or junior college and go through the draft process.
I doubt it's coincidence that all of the age discrepancies of some major league players are all ones that were not drafted, but signed at "age 16" in the Dominican Republic.
And steroids—that's an article for another day.
For a team that isn't able to sign a draft pick from the top five rounds, a compensatory pick is given the following year at the end of that round.
For a player who is unhappy with his draft spot and refuses to sign (unless he does choose to go to college), he's ineligible to be drafted until at least one round later the next time he re-enters the draft. (see Aaron Crowe and the Washington Nationals).
Stephen Strasburg might be a great player, but it's stupid to think he deserves $50 or $100 million before he throws a pitch in the majors. If he's that good, he'll make millions along the way.
American League Headhunting Pitchers
Tuesday's little flare-up between Mark Teixeira and Vicente Padilla got me thinking.
Part of the reason pitchers plunk hitters is because they don't have to worry about stepping in the box and getting hit themselves.
In the American League, Roger Clemens would throw at hitters regularly. In the National League with the Astros, he risked getting drilled himself his next plate appearance if he threw at opposing hitters.
In the AL now, players like Teixeira are getting hit as a result of a pitcher on his team (in this case previous teammates) hitting an opponent with intent.
Some plunkings are deserved. If Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Alfonso Soriano got hit in the elbow with a pitch, it's probably a strike because their hands are basically in the strike zone and over the plate before they swing.
It's the umpire's discretion to award a batter first base for getting hit. He doesn't have to—if the pitch is a strike, or if in his judgment the hitter didn't make an effort to move out of the way. It's happened before, but not in my lifetime.
But getting back to Padilla, who's been known to throw at guys for several years—he should have to face the music.
Every time a pitcher hits a batter—intentional or not—the next time through the order he has to hit.
An example: If Padilla hit Teixeira in the third inning, the next time the DH came up for the Rangers, Padilla would have to get in the box with a bat and face live pitching. The following time through the order, the DH would hit again, unless Padilla plunked someone else.
Also, if there was intent in throwing at someone, like A.J. Burnett did a few innings later, A.J. would have to face the music too.
The only way they'd get out of it is to have a pinch hitter, and that pitcher's out of the game—just like the NL.
Visiting Team Interleague Rules
A number of people have mentioned this on TV, so I can't claim this as an original idea, but I like it anyway.
Interleague is interesting, but the rules have to change a bit.
If the Yankees host the Mets in an interleague series at Yankee Stadium, then there should be no DH. Make the pitchers hit.
If the Cubs host the White Sox at Wrigley Field—use the DH.
Time to mix it up a bit. This also lessens the advantage of the home team and gives fans a chance to see something new.
Living in the Mountain Time Zone, it's great that most sports games are over early. However, having grown up on the East Coast, the baseball games finishing at midnight are just stupid.
All series, including the Division Series, should be seven games and in a 2-3-2 format.
No games start later than 7:30 pm EST—even on weekends.
What happened to weekend day games in the playoffs and World Series?
The extra off days in the middle of the series also have to disappear. I understand a travel day going from one city to another (between Games Two and Three, for example).
But a break between Games Four and Five just makes it drag on forever until we see frost on the World Series trophy because it's below freezing at the end of the last game.
Most of us love football too. Why can't the World Series be done a week earlier?