This is the time of year, I like to post my meaningless diatribe about the “State of Major League Baseball” and my plan to…”FIX the game”. Oh sure, winning the powerball lottery has a much better chnce for me than this ever being taken seriously
Now, I posted this last year and got comments such as, “baseball doesn’t need fixing”, “The season is the perfect length” and “Fan attendance is fine”, These were, I assume…”PURISTS”.
Meanwhile, attendance and revenues were in fact down, weather at the beginning of April still sucks, fuel and transportation costs continue to rise and we had a very good chance of having a late October World Series in…Minnesota!
Oh and yes…the All star Home Run hitting contest is still boring.
Oh, and now there is talk of adding more teams to the playoffs and a slight re-alignment by MLB.
Apparently MLB does not think is fine to remain “status quo”.
So here is my annual “shout into the black hole” for 2012.
I was watching the opening game of the 2009 World Series last night and watching the mist and the cold of the night at Yankee Stadium, while simultaneously the NBA opening night game was on another channel and some college football game on another.
I have always wondered why baseball has to extend into November to finish the season. I love baseball and at least this year there seems to be a marquee match up, but it’s not always like that. Here is a plan that I’ve had in my own mind for fixing Major League Baseball, or should I say, enhancing MLB to cater to the fans and benefit the game it’s self. Bud Selig, if you read my blog, feel free to call me and discuss. I have more ideas than just this, but lets start with re aligning the divisions and creating a Regional plan that works.
I will also state that I am fully aware that the rating for THIS (2009) post season have been very good. But lets not forget that there is the benefit of a marquee match up and any time the Yankees are in the post season there is going to be a huge ratings boost. I will guarantee that if the series was being played right now, between the Rockies and the Twins, you would have a hard time giving advertising away and there more empty seats than a Vanilla Ice reunion tour.
I know baseball went through re-alignment a few years ago, but that means it can be done again, for the better of the game, by being better for the fans.
I also know that this is not the first time the idea has been approached by columnists, bloggers and various sources. But while google searching the realignment arguments, I have yet to find a posting during the first three pages that either 1) Makes Sense or 2) Presents a valid reason behind their plan.
And while there are those who scream that my ideas mess with tradition, I state back that the definition of stupidity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, simply because you’ve always done it like that, even if it doesn’t work.
Here’s a thought; Lets not change anything and re-address the issue in ten years when there are less fans and less revenue and we start caring about the health and the future game and less about upsetting the ghosts of the past. There isn’t really a corn field in Iowa where Shoeless Joe will walk out of the tall stalks to pass with you if you make him happy. It was a movie.
Baseball needs to make a radical shift in the way it does business and markets its self if it wants to continue to grow and develop a generation of fans from the ranks of the youth. Today’s kids have more alternatives than ever baseball has more competition than ever before.
Look no matter how much the old “traditionalists” with hair growing from their ears want to believe that the spirits of Jolting Joe DiMaggio, Ty Cobb, The Babe and Ted Williams are going to re-appear and curse the game if Major League Baseball breaks from tradition, the fact is that interest in the game, fueled by a weakening economy and and alternatives to going to the park such as High Def TV and 300 cable channels with several games on per night.
The Vincent Rush / Cincinnati Sports Photography Plan for Fixing Major League Baseball
Lets create 3 Divisions of 10 teams each in a way that makes sense regionally;
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago White Sox
St. Louis Cardinals
Kansas City Royals
San Francisco Giants
Arizona D Backs
At the end of the season, top 8 teams in baseball advance to a seeded bracketed playoff system based on record. The winners of each division are in. If the winner of a division has the 9th best record, then a 1 game playoff or shall we say a “Play In” game would exist between number 8 and number 9, but only if that was the unlikely case.
First round best 3/5 next two rounds best of seven. This, although it does not guarantee, it does create a better probability of the two best teams meeting at the end.
Start the regular season on the 15th of April and end on the 15th of September.
Either reduce the regular season schedule by the 25 games lost or make up a portion of them in more double headers throughout the season as a way of enticing fans to come to the park knowing that they can get a full day of baseball for the money. Double headers were and are still great for families on a Saturday or Sunday. It does not matter if the players like them or not. The fans are the ones who buy the tickets. Hey, if I just paid Albert 27 mill a year…he’ll play 2 when I want him to play 2.
Baseball will make it up on the increased revenue from concessions, better weather and the laws of supply and demand. If there is any doubt as to this theory, ask yourself how many teams sold out the season in the current schedule?
Regional divisions will help foster closer rivalries, and encourage more fans to attend more away games because of the closeness. There will be less time difference conflicts that lose TV viewers.
Baseball as a whole and teams in general will save money on travel throughout the course of the season and can promote it as a environmentally conscious step to help reduce carbon emissions through decreased fuel consumption. Do you realize for example that the Yankees made 10 road trips to Chicago or further. The average team made about 10 long distance road trips. What if all the coastal teams could eliminate the cross country treks?. If MLB wanted to maintain some form of inter league play, they could work coordinate cross country match ups. The savings on travel would be into the millions for baseball and the teams.
As a result of the new start and finish dates of the season, there will be less chance of snow games, rain outs, temperatures in the 30′s and re-schedules. Baseball will also not be starting the World Series and competing with the beginning of the NBA season. The Series will end in October with only the NFL to compete with.
One conflict will be how to determine who plays in an All Star Game, or if it will be necessary to continue.
Or what if a team moves, folds or MLB wants to expand? What if Florida moves to Indianapolis? Then simply tweak the division by moving a team or two. The key is to be progressive and decisive and not wait 10 years to make up your mind.
Another obstacle, as I’ve said before, is the always strong opposition of so the called “Baseball Purists”. What is purity in the game any more? If these “Pure-ists” were committed to their mantra, all players would be wearing baggy flannels and using the old mitts of yester-year, there would be no designated hitter and there would only be two teams that played it out at the end of the season. And lets do away with all domes and field turf, and the middle relief pitchers.
I think it would also, at this stage of the game become a big part of the Bud Selig legacy. The game is in better shape than when he found it, That doesn’t mean that he can’t set it up to be even better 20 years after he leaves.
Chances of this becoming anything more than a pipe dream????? About the same as my dream of seeing the All Star Home Run Hitting Contest done with Aluminum and Composite bats.
As an adult, I would actually sit through a HR contest if I thought there was a chance of seeing a 600 foot shot or a light busted out of the tower. As a kid, I would run out to Dicks and buy whatever bat A-Rod or Josh Hamilton just hit one out of Yankee Stadium with.
Think of the advertising dollars baseball would draw or endorsement money players would pull down from the likes of Easton, TPX, DeMarini, Rawlings or Miken! And don’t cry about tradition again. Since when does a batter stand at the plate and hit off of a batting practice pitcher during a traditional game? The Home Run hitting contest should be the same type of freak show the NBA Slam Dunk contest is.
A 7-15 year kid knows nothing about tradition! Baseball has to quit marketing to the “wing tips” and start marketing to the flip fops, to continue to grow it’s fan base.
Vincent Rush is an award winning Professional Sports Photographer and owner of Cincinnati Sports Photography. Based in Ohio, Vince Rush has covered Bob Hope, Oliver North, Chris Gardner, The Cincinnati Reds, University of Cincinnati Bearcats, NFL Pro Camps, NCAA Track Championships and various professional sporting events throughout Ohio.