Will This Really Fix Baseball?

Oh, goody. Just in time for the World Series, we have yet another “How To Fix Baseball” article. I’ve never heard of Business Insider, so I have no clue how seriously to take this article, but when I’m still hurting after watching the Twins get swept in the first round, I’ve still got a little venting to do. I’m going to put on my Fire Joe Morgan typing gloves (they prevent chafing) and attempt to rip this thing to shreds.

Earlier this week, a relatively boring Monday Night Football game outdrew a crucial Major League Baseball playoff game in the TV ratings. No matter what defense baseball lovers might offer, that is plain embarrassing. And it gets at a sad fact: baseball is growing increasingly irrelevant in America.

Irrelevant? Seriously? When reruns of Laverne and Shirley start drawing more viewers than a playoff baseball game, then I’ll say that baseball has become irrelevant. Here’s the thing: football is considered more exciting than baseball. It’s been that way for a long time. Football has 256 games in the regular season, and fans spend all week waiting to watch football on Sunday. Baseball has 2430 regular season games, and they play practically every day of the week. In baseball, there’s always tomorrow. Football has 7 days. It’s simple. It’s easier to care about something that happens far less often than something that happens all the time. It’s basically a “Man Bites Dog” thing.

Last year, when the Yankees won the World Series, it felt like nobody in New York cared.

I highly doubt that a city that won any type of sports championship from one of the 4 major sports wouldn’t care. Well, except for Tampa. The Rays could win the World Series, and their fan base would still collectively say, “Yeah, but what have you done for us in the past 10 years?

But don’t worry, a couple friends of mine and I were at a bar last night and we figured everything out.

Figured out what? That baseball is supposedly becoming irrelevant? By the way, if alcohol was involved in this decision-making process, I have to think that we can’t trust it as much as you’d like.

MLB needs EPL-style relegation.

The team with the worst record in the majors would get booted to a league of independent minor league teams, and the best independent minor league team would get promoted to the majors. This will make fans care about teams outside the pennant race, encourage owners to spend on their product (winning), and give the Pittsburgh Pirates lots and lots of minor league championships.

Oh great, our tri-yearly “How To Fix Baseball” column starts with the tri-yearly suggestion of swapping teams in and out of MLB. Let me tell you something, and this goes for every person that has ever thought that it would be a great idea to switch a team like the Kansas City Royals with a Triple-A team.

It.

Won’t.

Fix.

Anything.

If anything, it will cause more problems. Let me run down the list.

1. Marketing

Let’s swap the Seattle Mariners with some independent league team. How are you going to advertise this new team? “Introducing your NEW Seattle Mariners!” Good luck selling those Jose Canseco jerseys. Also, what happens to the players that were good enough for MLB, but are getting penalized because their team sucked? Felix Hernandez and Ichiro get screwed, not only because they went from The Show to a town in the middle of farmland, but their contracts have to get voided because there’s no way their teams can pay for them anymore. Unless you’re saying that Hernandez and Ichiro get to stay and the rest of the team gets eliminated, because then we have an issue with…

2. Talent Swap

I’m going to go on a limb here and say that if an independent league team had players good enough to play in the bigs, THEY’D HAVE SCOUTS AND TEAMS CRAWLING DOWN THEIR BACKS TO SIGN THESE PLAYERS. If we’re talking about players from minor league teams, if these guys were better than what the major league squad was putting onto the field, it’s very likely these young guys would receive their call-ups. The only reason they wouldn’t be in the majors is because it would hurt their development, which would hurt the major league team even more. Yes, it’s difficult watching teams like the Pirates, but it’s a process (not to be confused with Kansas City’s The Process) to return to respectability, and this happens in all sports, not just baseball.

The World Series should be the only playoff series.

The World Series should come immediately after the regular season as a contest between the NL team with the best record and the AL team with the best record. This would create a TV ratings bonanza from August to September of every year as each league’s top seven or so teams jockey for the pole position. It’s not getting rid of the playoffs; its stretching them out over months.

So the Yankees would be in the World Series every year? Using the arbitrary cutoff of ending the season within 5 games of the team with the best record, it would have been a race between the Yankees, Rays, and Twins in the AL. In the National League, no one really competed with the Phillies. Last year, it all Yanks in the AL, and the Dodgers, Rockies, Phillies, and Cardinals in the NL.

However, you’re creating another problem once again. Take 2010, for instance. The Twins nearly had a better record than the Rays and Yankees, and therefore almost could have made it to the World Series under this presumed rule change. But then we’ve got fans for the Yankees and Rays complaining that with the unbalanced schedule, the Twins would have a much easier chance of getting the best record. Then we’d have to return to the balanced schedule for all teams. I know that this is how it used to be in MLB, but I can’t see how many teams or fans would be in favor of this change.

No inter-league play until the World Series.

With no playoffs, the World Series will inevitably turn into a huge event. How to make it huger? Re-introduce the novelty of making it a contest between two teams that almost never play each other.

I must point out this last sentence. Re-introduce the novelty of making it a contest between two teams that almost never play each other.

You’re totally right. Teams playing 18 games against the other league is far too many. Let’s eliminate all these unnecessary games so playing against the opposite league becomes a novelty again.

…two teams that almost never play each other.

Wanna know how many times the Giants and Rangers played each other this year? Not once. How about 2009? 3 times. 2008? Goose egg. If 3 regular season games against each other in the past 3 years isn’t “almost never” playing each other, then I have no idea what does count.

The baseball season needs to be shorter.

Owners will take a hit at the gate in the short term, but over the long haul people will enjoy the product more if each game matters more. Fans also need a chance to miss the game.

The only way I see this working is if MLB does something radical, like halving the number of games played. Then you’re alienating the fans that love to see their baseball team(s) play every day, and it sure won’t be productive to lose fans while you’re attempting to gain new ones.

The World Series should be played in 10 days or less.

The Series should only take that long because teams need time to travel between cities. Remember the constant action of the World Cup last summer?

Don’t blame MLB. Blame FOX. They’re the ones that think that having an off day in between every game is wonderful. Also, aren’t most series played in 5-6 games anyway? Since 1994, the World Series has averaged 5 games. The last time the World Series went 7 games was in 2002. Also, why is baseball being compared to the Vuvuzela Cup?

If you hate the no-playoffs-but-the-World-Series idea, let’s try a month-long World Cup-style round-robin tournament instead.

The division winners and two wild cards would spend October all playing each other. This solves the problem created by the fact that winning MLB’s current post-season tournament, a sequence of five and seven game series, has little correlation to do with being a team good at winning often over a 162 game regular season. Fans can feel there’s something wrong with the current system, and it dampens their enthusiasm.

Ah, this is why we’re having baseball compared to the Vuvuzela Cup. This is basically another shot at the “Underdogs keep winning in the baseball playoffs, this cannot happen!” complaint.

Listen, each league gets the top 4 teams into the playoffs. These are 4 out of the best 14 or 16 teams. It’s far easier to advance than in basketball or hockey, where there are the best 8 teams out of 15. Just think about this for a second. If we had a #1 seed versus a #4 in the NBA playoffs, of course the #4 team would win a bunch of series. It just looks bad in baseball because people think it’s wrong to see the “worst” playoff team beat the “best” playoff team. I’m sure some people are a little annoyed that Texas had the worst record of any playoff team, yet is in the World Series. Hey,

1) They were still better than over 70% of the league.

2) They beat the top 2 teams in the AL. I think they deserve to be there.

A real World series after the world series.

How epic would a 7 game series against Japan’s top pro team be each year?

How BORING would a 7 game series against Japan’s top pro team be each year after each league’s seasons have concluded? You might as well just stage it in Hawaii and call it the Pro Bowl. You’ve already assumed America is bored with baseball, so why should we throw in more baseball games? Also, we’ve already got something similar, and it’s called the World Baseball Classic. Finally, think about the players. How would it feel if you just completed about 173+ games, you’re ready to go home, and then, “Dammit, we’ve gotta go to effin’ Japan now!”

Pitchers should get 15 seconds between pitches.

Games must be shorter and more action-packed.

You wanna make games shorter? How about we eliminate all these commercials, especially during the postseason? Game times haven’t changed much over the past couple decades.What about football? There’s 40 SECONDS BETWEEN PLAYS!

Hey, is there a conclusion to this article? There has to be something that wraps this up. I really wish I was in 9th grade English again, because I’d print this thing and bring it to Mr. Harlan-Marks to have him give this a D+ before he’d give me a C- on my Romeo and Juliet paper. Oh wait, here’s a conclusion…

Think these fixes are outrageous? You’re gonna love the NFL in 2020.

MUST…RESIST…URGE…TO…BITCH…MORE…

6 Responses to “Will This Really Fix Baseball?”

  1. Ray Says:

    Here’s how to fix baseball….salary floor

    • Andrew Says:

      Well, MLB sorta took a step in that direction when they told the Marlins to start spending more money. That may have prompted them to sign Josh Johnson to that extension last offseason.

  2. JimCrikket Says:

    See… just when I thought most of the real baseball blogs and columnists were proposing some bizarre “fixes”, we find someone from the world of business media to show us how stupid stupidity can be on the outside. If this is the mentality behind what passes for expertise in the business world these days, we should really not be surprised at the condition of our economy.

  3. Doctor_Teh Says:

    While you make solid points that I don’t at all disagree with, I have to admit I would still be really excited by the whole relegation scheme of bad teams. Can’t think of a solution to the issues you raised though..

    • Andrew Says:

      In addition to what I said in the post, my issues are that I don’t see the incoming teams being any better, and I see a cycle of the “old” MLB team and some “new” MLB teams replacing each other every year.

      If this is supposed to encourage teams to get better faster, then maybe it will work. Maybe teams will be encouraged to sign certain free agents if it means avoiding being the worst team in the league. But I do feel that sometimes, you just have to admit that you’re not ready to compete, and you’re going to throw a year down the drain just so you can give your prospects more time to develop, and you can avoid spending money on a guy that’s only going to bring you a couple more wins in the season.

      • Doctor_Teh Says:

        I guess, being an avid fan of the Timberwolves and being horribly tired of tanking year after year since they “aren’t ready to compete”, I would rather watch each team optimize their lineup and play their best day in and day out. I certainly am no expert on the matter, but if I recall correctly, this is how it is run in the premier league in England correct? If so, there is at least SOME feasibility in it..

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