B/R MLB Community: Best and Worst 'Commissioner for a Day' Ideas
"What would be your first act if you were named MLB commissioner for a day?"
That was the question posed to B/R app users in advance of this week's B/R MLB Community article, and the answer did not disappoint.
As expected, there were plenty of people calling for the universal DH to return, shifts to be banned and Pete Rose to find his way to Cooperstown, and we tallied the most common answers on one slide before diving into some of the more unique proposals from would-be commissioners.
Thanks to all who participated!
Now let's get to it.
If you'd like to have your question or hot take included in a future mailbag, be on the lookout each Tuesday afternoon for the crowdsourcing thread on the MLB stream in the B/R app.
Your Most Common Answers
Before we dive into some of the more creative ideas, I thought it would be fun to give a quick rundown of the most common answers from the crowdsourcing thread. Here's a list of the most frequent responses roughly 18 hours after the thread was posted:
- Universal DH: 36 mentions
- Strip 2017 Astros title: 21 mentions
- Lift Pete Rose's ban: 20 mentions
- Fire/ban Rob Manfred: 18 mentions
- Ban/limit shift: 17 mentions
- Eliminate extra-inning rule: 17 mentions
- Robot umpires: 16 mentions
- Salary cap: 13 mentions
A lot of people simply said to put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame, but that's not something the commissioner can unilaterally do. However, he could lift his lifetime ban and make him eligible for a spot on the next Hall of Fame ballot, allowing his case to then be voted on by the BBWAA.
I was amused by the number of people who felt firing Rob Manfred alone was not enough and also wanted him banned for life. One person even suggested sending him to Mars.
Firing Angel Hernandez received five votes, though I suppose the 16 people ready for robot umpires are essentially calling for the same thing on a grander scale.
Overall, these are the responses I expected to dominate the comments.
Free Beer, 50-Man Rosters and Higher MiLB Salaries
"Free beer." (@StraightAhead)
I just paid $12 for a beer at Wrigley Field the other day, so from a fan standpoint, it's not hard to get behind this idea. However, the infamous "Ten Cent Beer Night" at Cleveland Stadium on June 4, 1974, will forever serve as a cautionary tale of what happens when you mix cheap booze and baseball.
"Pay the minor leaguers more." (@NotArtesburner)
You mean like an actual living wage? What a novel idea.
"Allow greater flexibility to teams by implementing a 50-man roster." (@sportsfeeds)
I'm assuming the idea here is to have a 50-man roster replace the current 40-man roster structure, which would in turn allow for more roster flexibility. Teams wouldn't constantly be cycling players through waivers in an effort to open up a 40-man roster spot. I like it!
Shorter Basepaths, No More Blackouts and Joe Torre for Commissioner
"Shorten the base distance by five feet." (@mnsportsfan)
This would presumably lead to more infield hits, more stolen bases and more incentive to play small ball. It would also mean less margin for error for the defense, which could in turn lead to less shifting and more straight-up infield alignments. There's something to this idea.
"Remove blackouts." (jcat83)
Right? RIGHT?! Constantly talking about growing the game and then cutting off a portion of the population from watching their in-market team by blacking out local games on MLB.TV is absurd.
"Name Joe Torre commissioner." (@matticus_finch)
A lot of people proposed firing Rob Manfred, but this was the only comment in which someone suggested a viable replacement. I worry Joe Torre is a little too close to Manfred and you'd wind up with a Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man meme situation, but I also respect Torre a ton.
Expanded Playoffs, Legal PEDs and No More Statcast
"Expand the playoffs permanently, with an NBA-like format where eight teams get in and all series are best-of-seven. Reduce the regular season to 120 games. Playoff baseball > normal baseball." (@Canada1)
My biggest issue with last year's playoff format was the best-of-three wild-card series. It worked over a 60-game season, but using that approach in a normal year would too drastically water down regular-season performance. A No. 8 seed hovering around .500 should not be able to eliminate the best team in the league by taking two of three. Going with a best-of-seven series from the start definitely helps solve that.
I lean toward six teams from each league, with the two division winners with the best records receiving a first-round bye. That places more value on a long regular season while also encouraging teams that might otherwise coast to the finish after clinching a spot to continue playing hard while chasing a bye.
"Make PEDs legal, but also pitchers can use foreign substances." (@w6348)
The Wild Wild West! I think the issue with legalizing PEDs is the health aspect and the damage that some steroids and other substances can do to your body. If they were legalized, players who wouldn't have ever considered taking them might feel obligated just to keep up. On the other side of things, pitchers have already gained a huge advantage with the substances they are currently using, and opening the door for them to use anything and everything would likely mean even more strikeouts.
"Get rid of Statcast. We were able to track home run distance and pitch speed before. Launch angle and spin rate is messing up the game, especially for younger hitters." (@striplingwarrior)
I don't think the issue is the data available, but rather the way teams are using that data. Eliminating Statcast is not going to stop minor league hitting coaches from preaching hitting the ball in the air and swinging for the fences. Also, I love Statcast, so back off.
An Offseason Draft, Better Marketing and an Approved Substance for Pitchers
"Move the draft to the end of the season. There is a reason why all the other major sports have more interesting offseasons than baseball. The baseball draft needs to be in the middle of the offseason to create hype and intrigue, thus increasing viewership during the season." (@Anjan)
I think the issue with generating interest in the MLB draft stems from the fact that most players won't see the big leagues for three to four years, if not longer. Fans don't get the instant gratification of knowing their first-round pick will be an integral part of next year's team. Moving it to the offseason just makes it harder on scouting departments and would delay the start of players' pro careers. It wouldn't have any impact on hype and intrigue.
"Create a marketing campaign so non-baseball fans would know who some players are." (@recedinghairline)
Not since guys like Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas were the face of the sport has MLB had a more marketable group than the current contingent of young stars—Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Juan Soto, etc. I absolutely agree that now is the time for a marketing blitz if they want to try to reel in a new audience.
"Research a substance that increases grip but doesn't dramatically increase spin rate. Once you find what that is (maybe it's pine tar, maybe it's something else), allow pitchers to use it and apply it only while on the mound in front of everyone. Then rule with an iron fist on any offenders." (@mattg8)
A lot of people suggested cracking down on foreign substance users, but I think this is a much more realistic long-term approach. Surely there is something out there that will give pitchers what they're looking for from a grip standpoint without also giving them a significant artificial advantage.
Potential MLB Expansion Teams
"Expansion team in Buffalo, plus Portland if an even number of teams is absolutely necessary. ... I say Portland as my second city assuming the A's eventually move to Las Vegas." (@MarkMyers)
"Two new MLB teams—Portland and Vegas." (@MarvelousnumeRO1)
"Put teams in Portland and Nashville." (@JTforMVP0)
I think it's only a matter of time before we see another round of expansion, and Portland, Las Vegas and Nashville are all prime locations to potentially welcome an MLB franchise.
A few others worth considering:
- Austin, Texas
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Oklahoma City
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Monterrey, Mexico
- Vancouver, Canada
The Triple-A Charlotte Knights annually rank among the MiLB attendance leaders, and the commissioner has recognized the city as a potential expansion location, so Charlotte belongs right atop the conversation with Portland and Las Vegas.
And for all the talk of another team returning to Canada, don't rule out a team in Mexico. With a higher altitude than Coors Field and air-quality issues, Mexico City is probably not a viable option, but Monterrey has a population north of 1 million and could be a fit.
I've always thought the built-in fanbase from the College World Series would make Omaha an interesting location, but that's more of a long shot.
The Interleague Play Debate
"Get rid of interleague play. It diminishes the World Series." (@alf1961)
"Expand interleague play to where teams play every team from the other league every season. Eliminate divisions and make playoffs top six teams in each league." (@rscheir01)
I love the idea of expanded interleague play in which each team faces the other 29 teams every year. It would serve as a fun appetizer for the postseason rather than diminishing it in any way.
Each team could conceivably play one four-game series against every team from the other league, two three-game series against every team from its own league outside its division, and two four-game series against each division rival, and there would still be 10 leftover games to distribute.
Trimming the number of games against each division rival while still placing more emphasis on in-division games than anything else allows for enough flexibility to expand the interleague schedule to include games against every team every year.
Who wouldn't want a better chance of seeing Jacob deGrom vs. Mike Trout on an annual basis?