Monday, May 02, 2022

If I were commissioner...

Here’s a FQ that became an entire post.

msdemos asks:

If tomorrow Major League Baseball installed Ken Levine as the new "dictator" of the sport, replacing Commissioner Rob Manfred, and you no longer were required to answer in any way to the player's union (I know, I know....but just go with me on this one!), and you could do ANYTHING you wanted in order to help the game reclaim it's once lofty position as "America's Pastime", what might be some of the changes to the game that you would institute IMMEDIATELY to help draw more people into "the tent”?

I would be a hard-ass commissioner probably hated by both owners and players.  But so be it.  

First, I would institute a pitch clock immediately.  It’s working in the minors and shaving an average of 25 minutes off of game times.  14 seconds with bases empty, 18 with a man on base.  Not in the box ready to hit?  It’s a strike.  Not delivering a pitch on time?  It’s a ball.  It'll take a couple of weeks for everyone to get used to then the game will hum right along.

I’d eliminate walk-up music.  That’s horseshit.  Get up there and hit.  

Eliminate the shift.  Since hitters are too obsessed with hitting home runs that they still try to hit into the shift, I’d eliminate it.  The better solution is for hitters to hit the ball where the fielders aren’t but they’re too stupid or too in love with hitting home runs to do that.  So I'd eliminate it.  (Next year it is supposed to be eliminated.) 

Reinstate a balanced schedule (which they are also doing next year).   I’m sick of seeing 19 fucking Yankee-Red Sox games.  It’s also not fair currently that some teams draw weaker divisions for interleague play.  

Eliminate ridiculous 11:30 in the morning games for the sake of a TV deal.  And if a game is on a streaming service only like Apple +, they have to be made available to the featured teams home markets via over-the-air free channels so that local fans who don’t pay for subscription services can watch the games.  This is what they do in the NFL.   Games on Amazon will be available in the home markets of the competing teams.   The idea is to increase the fan base not reduce it to those who have disposable money.

In the All-Star Game, teams will go back to wearing their own uniforms.  And the game will be before the home run hitting contest.  By the time the game airs now nobody cares. 

There will be fewer playoff games, not more.  When too many teams can make the playoffs the regular season becomes meaningless — ala the NBA.   And by the time you get to the World Series fans are burned out on playoff games.  

No more day-night doubleheaders where you’re charged separate admissions.  It’s grueling for the players and greedy on the part of the owners.  

No more phantom runners on second base to start extra innings.

No more seven-inning doubleheader games ever.  

No stupid catcher-pitcher transmitting devices.  Just more equipment to malfunction and cause delays.  And if one team's equipment doesn't work then the other team can't use it either.  You don't want runners at second stealing signs?  Change your signs like they've been doing successfully for 120 years. 

Incompetent umpires like Angel Hernandez and C.B. Buckner would be fired.

Starting pitchers have to go 7 innings to get a win, not 5.  You’re paying your ace hundreds of millions?  Let him earn his 20 wins a season, not pitch 5 innings while a parade of flamethrowers take over.  

Unvaccinated players don’t play, and don’t get paid for missing games.  It’s still a personal choice.  You choose to let your teammates down and lose millions of dollars.  Same goes for announcers.  

One challenge a game, per team.  You lose the challenge, you don’t get to challenge the next game.  

No larger bases.  That’s absurd.  

If every team uses the same analytics to hold down the cost of free agents I would take it to court as a form of collusion.  

World Series games start at 7:30 pm in the east during the week and 3:00 pm on the weekends.  Yes, weekend World Series games are in the daytime.  Kids can see the end of games.  They're not over at midnight.  Again, increase the fan base.  Networks will benefit when baseball is more popular again. 

All franchises would have to set aside some  money to build baseball fields in inner cities or poor communities to encourage young people to play baseball.  It's a travesty that there are not more Aftrican-American baseball players. 

All franchises would have to make available an acceptable number of reduced price seats so families can attend ballgames without it costing them a fortune.  This is an investment in the game’s future. 

I'd increase the number of minor league teams.  More fans around the country will see baseball, and it makes it harder to make the majors.  So the quality of play in the majors will improve. 

If a team charges an outrageous amount for parking, they also have to provide free shuttle service from public transportation.  No exceptions.  

And my long-range plan would be to find a way to change the broadcast rights so a team like the Dodgers can’t command a billion dollars for TV rights while division rival Padres are lucky to get a TV deal at all.  There is parity in the NFL because Green Bay and Cincinnati make as much in TV revenue as the Rams and Giants.  

And these would just be my first steps.  You could see why I’d be hated.  But I bet the fans would like me.  And isn't it about time they were taken into consideration for once?


Rory W. said...

Hear, hear!

Don G said...

Perfect points to get America’s Pastime back on track. I would also like to see balls being used for more than one pitch. Way back in the 1960’s, then famous umpire Jocko Conlon would continue to put a previously scuffed ball back into play to see how long it would stay in the game.

Roger Owen Green said...

I agree with the vast majority of your suggestions

YES: pitch clock, balanced schedule, no morning games, fewer playoff games, no more phantom runners on second base to start extra innings (I HATED THIS), no more seven-inning doubleheader games, earlier WS games, building up the game in poor communities, more minor league teams.

I'm told the larger bases are a safety issue.

Followup question: how would you address 17-inning games? Or is it not an issue for you? Since I believe that runner-on-second discussion is NOT dead yet (did I mention that I HATED it), how would you feel about ties after 12 innings, except in the playoffs? Soccer, NFL, and NHL have ties. (And incidentally, the NFL OT period should go back to 15 minutes.)

Douglas Trapasso said...

My hobby horse for a long time has been that each team must allow _____ percent of their games to air on a non-streaming, non-cable channel in their home market (we can argue about how large the %age should be, based on population in the team's market).

Peter Aparicio said...

Not a huge baseball fan. What is "the shift"?

Mike Chimeri said...

Peter, this Wikipedia entry explains it well.

Ken, you said the fans would like you as commissioner. I'm a fan and I like all of your proposals; nay, I love them! (Well, not all, but I'm willing to part with walk-up music. This isn't wrestling, after all.)

LordNyneToys said...

Since a lot of people will be adding their own ideas, I might as well put in my 2 cents here:
.01) On consecutive pick-off attempts that don’t get an out, add a ball to the count.
.02) Don’t expand the playoffs and don’t let teams tank just for the top draft pick. Have an alternate tournament for the teams that don’t make the playoffs. A double elimination bracket with the winner getting cash and the first pick in the draft. (Would it be good baseball? No. Would it be entertaining baseball in a darkly futile way? Possibly. Mostly, just make them work for it.)

kent said...

A lot of good ones. I think you should take a wait and see approach to the transmitting devices. Where are you on the automated strike zone. I'm a dinosaur but I'm starting to warm up to it.

Michael said...

The Yankees took the 20 games that were showing over-the-air on WPIX in recent seasons and moved them all to Amazon Prime so the only free over-the-air broadcasts for them are FOX national games (are they still a thing in regular season?)

The Mets are still showing 20 games on WPIX. As they were signing off after last one, Gary Cohen said 'tune in for our next game on WPIX ... in awhile"

Matt said...

Get rid of umpires calling balls and strikes and go to the computer. Everybody at home sees when a call is missed and it is infuriating. Also hitters would know what a ball or strike is and would stop swinging at bad pitches because they don’t know what an umpire would call.

blinky said...

You forgot the most important thing to make the game more fair, accurate and faster. And that is what? Called balls and strikes by some kind of artificial intelligence. They've already got it out there. I saw the game this weekend and they have a three dimensional path of the ball as it goes by the three dimensional strike zone. It's absolutely accurate. That's how you get rid of Angel Hernandez! All he does is sit behind the plate and callsafe or out. And those are reviewable, so his stupidity and incompetence is negated.

ScarletNumber said...

@Roger Owen Green

I love those marathon extra-inning games, so that would be a feature, not a bug.


Since the Yankees are the ones who chose to move their old WPIX package to Amazon, it wouldn't make sense for them to be simulcast. I agree with Ken that a national streaming package such as Apple's should be simulcast on local TV. Ironically because the NFL is so popular, Congress makes them televise all games on local TV.


While I agree with all of your suggestions, the one that really resonated with me was uniforms at the All Star Game. My favorite pictures that people post on Twitter are the old team photos at the All Star Game. They are so regal.

Jeff Boice said...

I agree with most of your suggestions. The pitch clock's the most important. I've written this before, but I would like to see MLB add 2 teams, and then realign into 4 leagues based on geography with limited interleague play in the middle of the summer. Reduce the schedule to 154 games and start the season no earlier than April 15. The 4 league winners would advance to the playoffs.

Kurt Arthur said...

Ken, I like most of your suggestions, but I see a couple more:

1. Make the strike zone letters to the bottom of the knees and then have the umps CALL strikes! Pitches over the belt are almost invariably called balls.

2. Get rid of all divisions and just have two leagues, with the top 5 teams getting into playoffs. Each league's winner gets a bye in the first round.

3. Every Saturday should be a double-header. That lets the schedule start later and end earlier. Coupled with the smaller playoffs, the World Series will end in mid-October rather than early November.

Thanks for letting me vent!!

ventucky said...

o problem within except banning the shift. It is like telling a chess player he can't form the defense he wants. There is a finite amount of defenders in a finite space. If they all load up on one side, hit it where they ain't. That is baseball, not setting artificial parameters for defense.

Joe Dungan said...

Lots of good ideas here! But what's wrong with the shift? It seems to me a team should be allowed to position their players wherever they want.

And how does one determine what's a shift and what isn't? If a certain batter is a pull hitter, how far over can the shortstop and 2nd baseman move before it's decided that it violates the shift rules?

And wouldn't hitters who are too stupid or in love with hitting home runs still try to do it regardless of where the fielders are?

Patrick Wahl said...

Everything but banning the shift. That's saying baseball can't use strategy because hitters are a bunch of whining crybabies. Let them adjust.

I would also do something about guaranteed contracts. I think not having those helps football, they don't have to carry players who turn into dead weight.

Dave said...

I'd banish interleague play. It was clearly yet another cash grab from the worst commissioner of all time and it's meaningless. For every Yankee/Mets game there are 10 Tiger/Reds games that nobody cares about.

It used to be a thrill in the world series to see the two teams play one another because you were *finally* seeing the two best teams square off. Now you've likely seen them play each other many times during the season.

Fred said...

Could someone explain why all baseball live radio broadcasts can’t be made available on the Internet as simulcasts ?

Jim said...

I have a 1939 copy of Walter Johnson calling a late-season game, Cleveland at Washington.

His DC station picked up the action mid-game, which apparently was the norm. Among the many notable things, two stand out:

1) the downtime between innings was perhaps a minutes or two, so it seemed. Next-inning pitchers started throwing their 8 warmup tosses almost soon as a third out was made, and then it was a quick ‘Play Ball’. There was no time to go to a commercial break between innings. No time for a fan to get a Brooklyn Dodger Dog. Vendors in the stands then were a real must.

Walter would squeeze in his appearance at a hardware store postgame, or he would recommend some business or friend’s venture during the game. The broadcast was definitely not monetized.

Nothing at all like today.

2) if it was between yours and the Big Train’s submitted game tapes for a big league radio opening, he wasn’t getting the gig.

John Fries said...

Ken, your rules are excellent and I agree with them. Something I would also ban is intentionally hitting the batter with a pitch. As a Pirates fan, it became annoying when it seemed like former Buc Andrew McCutchen would keep getting pitches thrown AT him because it's easier to put him on first rather than give him an opportunity to hit a home run.

On a positive note, I'm glad that Albert Pujols is playing his final season with the Cards. He's not only a great player but a class act. I was at a Pirates-Cards game several years ago when an older man was hit by a line drive along the first base line. As the medics were treating the man's injuries, Pujols was chatting with his family. A good guy.

Tom said...

I don't mind the shift. Put seven fielders on first base for all I care. I'm not being asked but I disagree about pitchers' innings. Human arms fall apart, that's just a fact, so use nine pitchers a game if you want (I do like the three-batter minimum). Besides, I never understood why pitchers' wins are even a one counts how many games Tom Brady or Michael Jordan "won," so why count it in baseball? Just count team wins and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

Gotta limit the number of pitchers on the roster so they can't just trot out a pitcher for every other batter.

Give one player on defense a flamethrower, an actual flamethrower. You'd see some strategy then.

Brian said...

Minor league baseball is a blast. Cheap tickets, cold beer, kids activities like the infield dash, players doing tarp slides during a rain delay, and fireworks. I once saw a giveaway of a 8 year old truck that smoked a little when they started it up. Even did a couple of all-night campouts in the outfield after games.

sanford said...

I don't think I can remember everything you proposed. As for 11:30 games. I live in the midwest. I can't remember any game starting at 11:30. East coast games start at noon here, sometimes 3. (at least for some Brewers games) Saturday night games start here at 6. As for pitchers going 7 innings to get a win. That is just not going to happen. I think you would have to restrict the pitching staff to ten or 11. We are around the same age. I was a Braves fan until they moved so I always go back to 57 when they won the series. The Braves had 60 complete games that season. Unless the game was a blowout or other reasons, starters went at least 7 for the most part. You didn't see a reliever every inning. Relievers would go a couple of innings unless their turn in the line up came up. Of course they would double switch and that went away. I am with you on the runner at second base. Some one commented on 17 inning games. Those are very rare. In fact most games end by the 13th at the latest. I am fine with the pitch clock. Find some older games on You Tube. They tend to move along with no clock. Of course you didn't have batters wearing gloves or stepping out of the batters box after every pitch. I would like to know if batters are seeing more pitches theses days. No one really started tracking that until some time in the 80's

Kevin B said...

I think it's a lost cause to try and appeal to a younger generation, which is presumably why they are in such a hurry to hurry up the game. Pitch clocks, runners at 2nd in extras, etc... It's not that kids today don't like baseball because it's too long, it's because they have access to highlight reels from every game and every player in the palm of their hands. They have favorite players, not favorite teams anymore.

Meanwhile, we older folk who actually appreciate the game for all its flaws - the 17 inning game, the pitcher's duel, the pitcher actually having to hit, a player taking out the 2nd baseman to break up a double play, human umpires making human calls, blah blah blah - have to watch the game be dismantled for "the next generation" that probably doesn't even care.

This has been my "old man yells at cloud" rant.

John in NW Ohio said...

I'm with you on almost everything, but I do have a few quibbles...

You left out Laz Diaz. He's gotta go, too. He, Hernandez, and Bucknor are beyond terrible, and EVERYONE knows it. Thank God Joe West is finally gone.

The pitcher/catcher communication devices are a good thing. Once the bugs are ironed out, they will definitely speed things up.

I like that teams can challenge shitty calls. Sorry, if you do not agree. Horrible umpiring should not determine the outcome of an MLB game, especially in the post season. Let's get the calls right.

Mitch said...

If players/owners go on strike, owners and players must still pay the concession stand workers and ground crew. Only fair that they shouldn't suffer because a bunch of millionaires are battling a bunch of billionaires.

KLA 83 said...

20 for 23. Not bad, Mr. Commissioner. But it's a swing and a miss on phantom runners in extra innings and 7-inning double-headers. Let's keep working to shorten games, not stretch or prolong them. Keep the shift in. There's way to solve it: learn to hit it thru that big 'ol gap the other team is taunting you with.

It seems you skipped over one 800-pound gorilla or did I just read too fast? It would seem that an automated strike zone would be a no-brainer, but I don't follow baseball that closely. Is it not working in the minors?

Oh--maybe you're 19 for 23. I watched a game over the weekend where the first base ump was reversed 3 times, and it turned out to be a 1 run game. Let's allow multiple challenges, but with some kind of cost if the 2nd or 3rd challenges lose.

Saburo said...

Move. The. Mound. Back.

Increased velocity and pitchers going full tilt from start to finish is killing offense.

That is all.

Michael said...

@sanford As part of a new package of Sunday games being shown on PEACOCK, some games will be starting at 11:30 AM Eastern time.

Breadbaker said...

@Fred: all radio broadcasts of MLB games are available on the MLB app for $19.95 a year, with no blackouts.

Ken, I totally disagree about the replay challenges. In yesterday's White Sox-Angels game, there were three challenges to calls at first base, and all three were overturned. Sean Barber was the first base umpire.

kent said...

The shift discriminates against lefties because using the same alignment against righties puts the "rover" too far out to get the throw to 1st in time. It also reduces defensive athleticism by shrinking the gaps they have to cover. The game will be better without it.

YEKIMI said...

Listening on radio, I just get few up with all the "sponsored" bullshit, ie: "Hello, this is Ham Tomilton coming to you from the All Insurance ballpark where the Fraudians will by stepping onto the Scott's Turf Builder field to start today's game. Coaching today's game will be Cleveland Clinic's manager Homey Franconey who will hopefully be here for the entire game. Leading off batting at the Sherwin-Williams home base will be Ballpark Franks batter Jose Whocares. Hopefully he'll make a home run by heading to Dunkin' Donuts first base, Preparation H second base, rounding the corner to Medtamucil third base and making it home to Sherwin-Williams home base. Several players to be named later will be covering the Depend's infield and several more will be in the Outback Steakhouse outfield. The Prilosec first inning will begin shortly. The freshly painted Pepto-Bismol foul ball pole is really standing out today being recently painted pink instead of the ugly safety yellow. And here's the first pitch, sponsored by Hyland's Leg Cramp Relief; and the first Mylanta strike of the game is called!" You get the gist of where the sponsorship of the game is heading.

Steve Lanzi f/k/a qdpsteve said...

I might have missed it in Ken's piece because I'm not up on all the baseball lingo, BUT:

Can't anything be done about unlimited foul hits on the part of batters?

Seems like whenever there's a big cliffhanger... batters never fail to hit 25 fouls, all in a row.

John (formerly) in NE Ohio said...

One of the better suggestions which addresses a couple issues at the same time. I don't remember where I saw/heard it years ago --
Every pitcher that enters the game has a DH attached to them. They are treated as one player in the lineup. Remove one and the other goes also.
Won't have to dictate three batters, you'll run out of players. Double switch is still a thing, along with other strategies.

Anonymous said...

Currently, I’ve stopped watching baseball, as it is. Not the game i grew up watching and loving.

Jack Zullo said...

That was my comment, didn’t mean to comment anonymously.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Couldn't agree more about the walk-on music...another example of how sports has become immersed in showbiz.

kent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Owen Green said...

ScarletNumber: *I* have no problem with 17-inning games; I like the backup right fielder who last pitched in high school, on the mound.

But MLB did, initially because of COVID (allegedly), so they instituted that abomination of a runner on second.

I'd do away with the DH if I could, but that ship has sailed. Ditto interleague when you have 15 teams in each league.

Anonymous said...

As someone stuck in Pittsburgh with a CHEAP owner, a salary floor would be nice. Rather than seeing players no other team would start.

Cap'n Bob said...

Someone finally mentioned the DH. I would institute the DH throughout baseball. Why have an easy out in the lineup? This should be a player's game, not a manager's.

ScarletNumber said...

@Cap'n Bob

Apparently you aren't a fan of the National League, or else you would have noticed that the DH is now legal there, as it is throughout Minor League Baseball. The Little League rule book is based on the MLB rule book, but I'm not sure if they adopted it.


This coming Sunday, the White Sox/Red Sox game will be airing on Peacock at 11:30 Eastern, so if you're a White Sox fan, be prepared for a 10:30 first pitch. For this first game NBC will be simulcasting, but the package is designed as a Peacock exclusive.

Lonely Liberal in GA said...

Regarding the electronic pitch selection by the catcher: An acquaintance of mine suggested that it should also work the other other way. Sometimes, an experienced pitcher would want to tell the catcher what he's going to throw.

Anonymous said...

Full agreement on everything. You'd be a great commissioner.

MSOLDN said...

This morning (London, UK time), I watched a time-delayed broadcast of last night’s Jays-Yankees game on YouTube (“MLB Free Game of the Week”). It was a nice compact treat actually…all pitches and plays included….but most of the delays between pitches (and all commercial breaks!!!) edited out. The downside….somewhat robotic MLB broadcast announcers who seemed to have recorded at least part of the play-by-play after the action occurred, to avoid choppiness that caused by editing out real-time footage.

Cap'n Bob said...

@ Scarlett Number

I didn't know the NL used a DH. That's good news to me. Thanks.

mike said...

AMEN, spot on.