Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post writes that Commissioner Bud Selig has appointed a 14 man committee to "analyze ways to improve baseball." Mr. Boswell writes, "After the various embarrassments of this year's postseason, piled on top of a recession-plagued year with sinking attendance, MLB has decided to get serious about correcting its problems, many of which have festered for years. From excessively long games to bad umpiring to World Series games in November to the intractable DH rule, Selig says, 'There will be no sacred cows.' " You can read the entire article here.
The committee will consist of managers Joe Torre, Mike Scioscia, Jim Leyland, and Tony LaRussa and executives and owners from Philadelphia, Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis and Baltimore. Also, Frank Robinson. Mr. Boswell then lists 10 ideas for fixing the game, including more instant replay, a proposal to make mid-inning relief pitchers pitch to at least two batters, other proposals to speed up the game by a time-saving 15 or 20 minutes (Mr. Boswell apparently thinks this 15 or 20 minutes is "the elephant in the room," not scheduling games in November and not awarding the World Series home team advantage to the winner of the All-Star team. Mr. Boswell is very enthusiastic about this committee, comparing it to a "holiday gift."
Forgive me if I don't share Mr. Boswell's enthusiasm. Bud Selig has never done anything for baseball that does not involve getting more money from the public and stuffing it into billionaires' pockets. Starting games in November that run until 1 am on school nights on the east coast? As long as tv wants it, that is not going to change, unless tv decides that they want them to START at 1 am. Tony LaRussa on a committee to decide whether to make relief pitchers pitch to at least two batters? Has Mr. Boswell ever seen Mr. LaRussa manage a game? I could see how they could collectively decide how to make life less comfortable for the umpires, but you know what? I really could care less. I get burned as anyone when a call doesn't go the Giants way, but hey, we could make it like football and basically have the game be run by video (see stories about the Dallas Cowboy stadium on deadspin.com). How boring. Speed up the game by 15 minutes? First of all, no one, NO ONE would then think that baseball would become lively if they think it is boring now. Second, how much do you want to bet that that 15 minutes would not be filled up with trying to sell you more crap. That is what the problem with the time in baseball is - the fact that playoff games take 6 hours because 3 and a half hours of commercials are crammed in.
Are they discussing revenue sharing and how they should set a minimum salary level if they want competitiveness? I think it is obvious that some teams make more money off of revenue sharing than they pay out in salaries, never mind ticket sales and tv revenues. How do the fans of these teams feel? Are there any fans on the committee? No? How unsprising. Are they going to address the DH? No, they are going to deal with crap that is marginal and then trumpet their "findings" while ignoring the stuff they should fix.
So, over your Irish coffees, what would you change about baseball games? What do you think should be changed that actually could be (in other words, a shorter season is a non-starter)? Happy Holidays.