Extreme Makeover: 12 Fixes That Will Change The MLB Landscape
Bud Selig must wonder what the future has in store for him and MLB, after all there are many things that come up and will continue to come up in discussions such as Instant Replay, Inter-league Play, Performance Enhanching drugs issues, Realignment was something in pondered back in March, All-Star Game, and so on. I certainly don't expect any major changes to happen for the rest of Bud Selig's tenure unless he wants to go out with a bang and make some last minute changes sort of like how a lame-duck President does pardons right as he hands to keys off to the next guy.
Here you'll see what needs to happen and some suggestions of what should happen to make the game better for the future and beyond...
The All-Star Break, what do you think of when you hear that? Well for one, it's the official midpoint of the MLB season where we have festivities like the All-Star game, Home Run Derby, and Celebrities-Legends Softball Game, and also Futures Game. The MLB season is 162 games long thats twice as long as the NBA and NHL with only one 2-3 day rest the whole season. Below, these suggestions would also help pitchers who pitched on the Sunday before the break to be able to pitch with extra break.
Suggestions: Extend All-Star Break to a week-long event stretching from Monday-Sunday. How?
All-Star Break Week
Sunday: Announcement of All-Star Lineups
Monday: Travel Day
Tuesday: Futures Game at Noon
MLB First Year Player Draft at Night
(It is usually a month earlier but thats usually before the College World Series, why not hold the draft after the college season is over like College Football, Basketball?)
Wednesday: Announcement of All-Star Starting Pitchers
MLB First Year Player Draft Day 2
Thursday: Summer Meetings (like the Winter Meetings); Where GM's get to meet to discuss which guys to trade at the July 31st Trade Deadline and where teams get to try to sign deals with the draftees versus stretching the affair out to last moment.
NOTE: This free day would also allow MLB Players to attend the ESPYs, an event that the whole sports universe attends but usually is missing its MLB players in season.
Friday: Summer Meetings Day 2
Celebrities versus Legends Softball Game
MLB Players Skill Challenge
Who's the fastest player around the bases?
Most accurate arm from outfield to home plate by hitting bulls-eye?
How about catching a flurry of line-drives from a pitching machine?
Saturday: State Farm Home Run Derby at night
Sunday: MLB All-Star Game at night (Would provide for better ratings)
Return to games Monday at night and full-slate of games Tuesday.
World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic was introduced in 2006 as a way to have MLB players participate in a time where they weren't playing. It has been great because the Olympics have eliminated it from the slate at the 2012 Olympics in London. Still the field includes only 16 teams and no qualifying for it.
Suggestions: Introduce qualifying rounds shortly after Super Bowl in early February with 32 teams including the US. The field should then be reduced to the original 16 in March with the WBC ending a week before regular season play. This move would therefore add more exposure and give other countries a chance to compete in this event.
It should continue with its 4 year separation, avoiding falling on the same year as Olympics and FIFA World Cup.
Umpires and Managers are often found arguing for close calls every game. In 2008, MLB introduced instant replay for (home run calls and fan interference) but again this will need to be expanded a bit beyond that to....
Suggestions: Expand replay to calls at home plate which are just as crucial as home run calls that involve scoring runs. Give managers just ONE challenge for any play not involving balls or strikes, which should never be replayed.
The last wave of MLB expansion came in 1998 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks and in 1993 with the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies. Currently there are 16 teams in the National league and 14 in the American League which is uneven, eventually MLB will want more teams to expand to 32. The NFL has 32 franchises so it wouldn't be new territory for a league. Here are a few cities who should get a expansion franchise...
Las Vegas, NV: Mayor Oscar Goodman (middle) would love to have a MLB expansion franchise, much more, at least a major team in the area. Las Vegas was a candidate for the Montreal Expos relocation and the Florida Marlins possible relocation back in 2004 and 2005. Both have or are moving into new stadiums. Las Vegas has the thrills and the excitement, and yes it is called Sin City for its gambling and legal "red-light" district but on the bright side it's a good place with its booming population with nearly 2 million habitants in the metro area. We saw a taste of how Las Vegas can go all out if you're an NBA fan and watched the All-Star game a few years ago.
Portland, OR: Portland has a little over 2 million inhabitants in the metro area and would add a second franchise in the Pacific Northwest which is currently ruled by the Seattle Mariners. It would add some rivalry since the Mariners currently don't have a true one. Portland has a minor league baseball team in the Oregon Beavers who have been there for a long time and a stadium PGE Park which could be renovated to add more seats for a franchise.
Vancouver, BC: Vancouver's metro area is the 3rd largest in Canada behind only Toronto (currently fields Blue Jays) and Montreal (who add the Expos). For the same reason as Portland, Vancouver would add a team to the Pacific Northwest, having a rivalry with the Seattle Mariners. Only problem is that Vancouver doesn't have a facility for a MLB franchise unless you count BC Place Stadium which is a dead ringer for another Metrodome in Canada.
Either way, this city hosted Winter Olympics this past year and is inheriting a MLS expansion franchise, Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2011.
Split up the Yankees and Red Sox? No way! There has been talk of "floating realignment" which was brought up by Bud Selig in March in where teams would not be stuck to a division, but have the freedom to change divisions from year-to-year based on geography, payroll and their plans to contend or rebuild or neither. That would be mad chaos not mention cause tension by teams who feel that they should be where there are and not be thrown into fire. What if you have an all rich division of Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, and Dodgers? Or a non-contending division of Orioles, Pirates, Royals, Nationals, and D-Backs? It wouldn't make sense. Here is my suggestion based on adding expansion teams to even out divisions 4x4....
AL Great Lakes - White Sox (Michigan); Indians (Erie); Tigers (St. Clair/Huron); Blue Jays (Ontario)
AL Pacific - Angels; Portland or Vancouver Franchise; Athletics; Mariners
AL Northeast - Orioles; Red Sox; Yankees; Pirates
AL Midwest - Rockies; Royals; Twins; Las Vegas Franchise
NL Gulf - Braves; Astros; Rays; Rangers
NL Southwest - Diamondbacks; Dodgers; Padres; Giants
NL Atlantic - Marlins; Mets; Phillies; Nationals
NL Central - Cubs; Reds; Brewers; Cardinals
NOTE: It does mess up the Rangers-Astros;Rays-Marlins interleague rivaries but it can't be anymore perfect. Pirates in AL Northeast sound like murder but they haven't won in a division with two more teams, perhaps they can win in that one. Besides, the Pirates have 5 world series, they have a winning tradition.
Last season, the Colorado Rockies made the miraculous turnaround under Jim Tracy to make it into the playoffs via the Wild Card. There have been many questions as to whether we should have it or not, the bottom line is with the Realignment proposal in the previous slide there won't have to be one, with 4 teams in each division winning, putting an emphasis on winning your division is the main thing and its as simple as that. Now if MLB wanted a "Wild Card" ....
Have the 4 Division winners advance, the 2 with the best record sit out Wild Card Series (ALWCS/NLWCS). This would at least bring back the meaning of playing for a bye week for having the best record in your league since the ASG decides Home-Field Advantage for the World Series. Then two wild card winners teams who would have just missed the playoffs have a final chance to battle their way to play in Division series ALDS OR NLDS then to ALCS/NLCS and to the World Series.
This would give many benefits, it allows more teams in the playoffs and the best teams would essentially not be out right way. The Wild Card Series, should be a 3-game series, like the College World Series so that it is short and sweet, like any other 3 game regular season series.
Interleague play has its friends and enemies, it certainly won't be taken out because it boosts revenue and attendance to stadiums because fans who want to see teams and players they normally don't get to face. If you take Interleague play out it adds a bit more to the All-Star Game and the World Series. In addition, you can play your division way more (especially with only three other teams) so that you can further make up ground in your division.
With movement/placement to 2 teams in the American League you can have interleague play at the same time, no team would be playing a team in their league. I still say it should be there but....
Suggestions: Fewer Interleague games (Mostly Geographical Rivalries + one or two more series of World Series Rematch or teams who haven't played each other in a while) So that there isn't much dominance in the final tally of which league dominated more.
Time of Year: Have it in the weeks leading up to the All-Star Game, so it can become a final battle of sorts to see who really owns MLB.
DH: If you're going to implement DH rule to All-Star Game, do it in Interleague Play, Pitchers in American League have gotten hurt like Chien Ming Wang in Houston a few years ago and it would give it different feel, still I think this is more of slight suggestion rather than a concrete one.
MLB has done a terrific job in televising the First-Year Player Draft on MLB Network and their website. It gives fans a chance to see their future players and to have the commissioner announce it rather than reading about it online or newspaper. The only thing is there is no drama, there is no Mel Kiper, and most of the time these players aren't in the Major Leagues if at all.
Allow for Draft pick trading from Round 1-5; This would add drama for team wanting to stockpile picks (ala Moneyball) and truly rebuild. We can have drama and if teams are out of the race in July (look back to All-Star Break slide) then they can trade their players for draft picks if they feel they don't like anyone from their system and pick their own player.
Slotting System: Commissioner Selig has thought about this and it could happen, Stephen Strasburg almost wasn't a Washington National due to the mastermind of the deal, Scott Boras. A slotting system would allow the players to be signed and play right away in the minors before the season is over. If you don't then we might run into these $40-$50 million contracts which would give MLB a headache like its giving the NFL.
Shortening Draft: The Draft should be 25-30 rounds not 50, thats absurd. Yes, there are minor leagues and so on but this is outrageous. It looks more like a military draft for war then anything. 25-30 is where it should be so it gets people more interested in the draft.
International Draft: I believe the International Players whether from Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Japan, or Korea should be drafted rather than be selected by a team with the most bucks. It's not fair that teams can just throw a lot of money to sign these guys and the teams with not that much resources or money can't. It would give a fair playing ground for everyone. At the same time, It allows for the early rounds to be filled with great talent and players you know you will see in the future.
Separation of International versus First-Year: If you were to separate it, have a lottery where every team would be in it and the lottery picks the team with the chance to pick a top player from the international ranks to play with their team. If thats the case have it at in the offseason during the Hot Stove Season.
Age: International Players can sign when they are 16 while high school players have to be graduating from high school. Bryce Harper had skip his final two years of high school as a 16 year old and got drafted at 17. He did this to get more money throughout his career, by doing this he has an extra couple of years in his MLB career. The way to further fix this is to have the minimum age at 16 but have the team draft the player and control his rights so he is already drafted but just playing in high school and then moves to the minor leagues after he graduates. International players would still get to help their families at the young age as well.
Josh Beckett has been on the 15-day Disabled List since the early part of the season, which was around two months ago, way more than 60 days. MLB has two disabled lists (15 & 60 day). The 60-Day allows a team to place a player on that list and add a player to the 25 man active roster and 40-man roster while the 15-Day doesn't allow for the latter.
Have a 10-Day DL (day-to-day disabled list where you can take the player off after a minimum of five days but no more than 10 days)
Keep 15-Day DL (a player must spend no more than 15 days)
Have a 30-Day DL (a player must spend no more than 30 days)
Keep 60-Day DL (a player must spend no more than 60 days)
Have a Season Disabled List (ending season for player)
George Steinbrenner left his mark in Major League Baseball and you can say the man who raised the stakes in the game and caused players to be paid as much as they are getting paid currently. With the way it is I highly doubt you will see any salary cap in baseball ever, its what separates MLB from NBA, NHL, and NFL. In fact I would go as far as naming it Steinbrenner Free-Spending or something in recognition of what makes baseball different and allows teams to be free with their money
Any franchise can be big-spenders, although it would help if there was a designated franchise player who you could pay money too and therefore keep him with the team. That might not work because money is money, the only suggestion here would be to have a minimum level of money so that teams like the Marlins or Pirates don't end up have sub $30 million salaries.
The Steroid Era has died down but the Year of the Pitcher has made a big comeback in the way of 4 no-hitters by Dallas Braden, Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Edwin Jackson, and the infamous Armando Galarraga perfect game taken away by a blown call. The Steroid Era will return with other innovative methods, perhaps without drugs calling it some other era but in order to ensure performance enhancers are dead and buried, heres what should happen...
The Three Strikes Rule (only larger):
75 game suspension
Full Season suspension (suspending player for remainder of season in play and next season)
Life-time ban or player and immediate family (son, brother) and a fine to the team
Roberto Clemente Day
Just like Jackie Robinson Day, MLB should have Roberto Clemente day on August 18th, day when he was born. Retire Roberto Clemente's 21 around MLB and grandfather everyone who has that number (ala Marinao Rivera's 42). Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and Clemente broke the latin barrier, its as simple as that.
Heres the notable list of Clemente's achievements: He is the first Latin American player to be selected for Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the only current Hall of Famer for whom the mandatory five year waiting period had been waived since the wait was established in 1954. Additionally, Clemente is the first Hispanic player to win a World Series as a starter in 1960, win a MVP award in 1966 and win a World Series MVP award in 1971.