How to Fix the Major League Baseball Season
Bud Selig will be around for three more seasons, and in the midst of those three years will be working on a new collective bargaining agreement with the Player's Association.
Here a few things I believe Selig needs to do to fix the game, and make it more competitive and balanced.
Note that this will go from start of the season (Spring Training) to the finish (World Series).
Shorten Spring Training
Lets face it, the Spring Training schedule is way too long. A month and a half is far too long to have something so, well, useless.
To fix Spring training, Selig and Michael Weiner, the new head of the PA, need to focus on the amount of games played. The training part needs to stay, as it is very important for the athletes to get back into the swing of things.
But the game schedule needs to be shorten. They need to agree to remove a week's worth of games at the end of spring. This would allow for the season to start a week earlier (the last weekend in March) to make for an earlier start to the postseason.
Add New Teams
It is time to introduce two new teams to the American League.
I say two AL teams for the main reason that the NL is set at 16 teams and in a 5-6-5 alignment. The American League is set in a 4-5-5 alignment. Adding two teams (say Las Vegas and Oklahoma City) would give the AL a 5-6-5 alignment to match the NL.
This would keep some competitive balance between the two leagues, and would allow for one-fourth of each league's team to make the playoffs, instead of one-fourth and one-third and a half.
Another reason to add the teams is the plain old fact that the AL is the tougher league. Adding two teams would make for more competitive balance (as I said up yonder) because each team would have 15 other teams to compete with.
That is balance.
I realize it is difficult to comprehend how good Interleague Play is for the sport. Some good rivalries exist between the two leagues, but it needs to go partially away.
I say partially because of my proposal to introduce two new teams to the league. This would keep competition between teams in the same division, but also allow for more games against outside teams.
Here's how it would break down:
Teams in the Central divisions would play 18 games apiece against their division opponents (90 games) and six apiece against the outter division teams (60 games). The remaining six games would be split into three, two game series against three teams picked at random from the west and east.
Teams in the West and East divisions would play 20 games apiece against their division opponents (80 games) and six apiece against the outter division teams (66 games). The remaining 10 games would be split into two, three game and two, two game series against four teams picked at random from the other two divisions.
That would mark 156 games against their own league. Sounds a lot better than the current schedule, doesn't it? It also keeps division teams playing their own division more.
What about the remaining six games? I'm glad you asked that. On the odd years, the AL teams would draw from a hat and pick two NL team names that they would play (one series at home, one on the road). The picking would be from best record to worst, in hopes that the worst team would get a bad team to keep the playing field level.
On the even years, the NL teams would pick (again, from first to worst).
Fix the Draft
When Stephen Strasburg recieves $15 million before ever throwing a pitch, there is something wrong. The draft is broken. Very broken, in fact.
There is a way to fix this.
First, you have to start with a worldwide draft. International free agents would be subject to the draft. If they go undrafted (doubtful for the top talents), then they can hit the open market as an unsigned free agnet and sign anywhere.
Yes, interational free agents would enter the draft at 16, but that's just the law of the land. They sign at 16, not 17 or 18 like American high schoolers.
For the draft itself, the most controversial plan needs to be put in place: slotting. This would not only allow for amateurs to paid like amateurs, and receive more money than a professional player makes in a year, but it also removes the agents (sorry, "advisers") from the draft.
When there is a slotting system, each pick would be designated a signing bonus amount (say $5 million for the top pick). Can't go higher or lower. That's what that pick will be paid by the team who picks him. This allows for players who are drafted to say "Yep (Nope), I (don't) want to go to pro," and then teams can get the player in the organization right away.
That is how a draft should work. The worst teams get the best players, and the teams get the players in their organization right away. That makes for faster evaluation and elevation, which can only help a team.
Another addition that should be added: trading picks. Remove the protected picks garbage and allow for trading picks.
When you sign a Type A free agent under this new rule, you lose your first round draft pick, even if you pick first. Of course, you can always trade picks to the team in place of your first round pick.
Picks you can't trade: lower than the 10th round. Then, you're picking spare parts (with a few stars no one knows about, like Albert Pujols). You can, however, trade your compensation picks (from Type A and B free agents), including the first round picks.
This would also put a limit on Type A free agent signings. You can only lose your fifth round pick by trade, not by free agency. So if you sign three Type A free agents, and trade your fourth round pick, you cannot sign anymore Type A free agents. Can't go below the fourth round.
That makes for a better free agent market, so the highest revenue clubs cannot hoarde all of the top free agents.
Finally, no more compensation picks for failure to sign a draft pick. Are you kidding me? Fork over the money or lose it.
It shouldn't count anymore.
Is the All-Star game needed? Yes. It is a fun event that makes for a nice break for players.
Should it count for home field advantage in the World Series? No. It is just dumb to make it count for that.
The new home field advantage rule is the leagues would alternate each year. The AL would have home field advantage on the even years, NL on the odd years. If you noticed, it would be opposite of the Interleague Play random picking.
Are all things created equal? No, at least not in this game. One team's best record may be not as good as another's based on the schedule, but so be it. The World Series can be won or lost on home field advantage (take note of the 2004 World Series).
The best takes home field advantage.
Change the League Division Series & Playoff Schedule
This is Weiner's main concern. He wants the next CBA to include a change to the playoff schedule.
He wants a best-of-seven League Division Series, and less days off. I couldn't agree more with his desire.
A tops of 21 games in the playoffs is what the sport needs, and this is why the one less week of Spring Training is important.
The season would start on the final weekend in March, meaning the season would end on the last weekend in September.
The postseason, then, would start two days after the end of the season. To make the television stations happy, one league would start the day before the other. The leagues would alternate who goes first yearly.
Days off would be after Games 2, 5, and 7 of each series. All three would be travel days for the teams. That means that if the postseason started on October 1 and each series went a full seven games, the postseason would end on October 31.
I know that doesn't sound much better, but think about this. It is still shorter than the NHL and NBA playoffs (on par with the NFL if you look at weeks), and it would only finish in November when September 30 is on a Friday.