With the threat of a work stoppage safely in the rearview mirror for awhile, I’d like to follow through on a promise I made awhile back to say just what I’d do if I were named Commissioner of baseball. I present herewith my Top Ten To-Do List for baseball.
- I will cease and desist all efforts to crack down on fan-run baseball web pages. I can’t think of a stupider and more heavy-handed way to alienate people who are working for free to promote your own product.
- If there’s one thing that characterizes Beelzebud’s reign of error as Commish, it’s anti-marketing. He has denigrated the game at every possible opportunity, mostly in an effort to convince people that small market teams cannot win. As Commissioner of baseball, I will never gratuitously speak ill of the game I’m paid to represent. I will speak instead of my love for the game. I will speak of its beauty and its excitement, its lore and its thrills. When I must speak of baseball’s problems, I will do so honestly and with an eye towards a collaborative solution.
- I will work to enable a revenue sharing plan that makes sense, and more importantly rewards success rather than failure. This article is a good place to start.
- I will put public pressure on disinterested and incompetent owners to shape up or ship out. I will put public pressure on Jeffrey Loria, the man who killed baseball in Montreal and is now working to do the same in Miami, to sell out.
- I will throw the word “contraction” out of our vocabulary and will apologize to the fans in Minnesota, Montreal, Florida, and anywhere else someone has had to worry that his or her favorite team may be arbitrarily taken from them.
- I will work to impose caps on bonuses for draftees so that “signability” is not an obstacle for teams with limited resources. I will work to reverse the cessation of draft-pick compensation for teams that lose Type A and B free agents. I will work to allow teams to trade draft picks. I will work to subject all international players to the draft, as it is in the NBA.
I recognize that some of these things may be challenged in court by agents. I don’t care. I believe that the best and most cost-effective way for a franchise to be competitive is to develop young players, and towards that end I believe every team should have fair access to them.
- I will require all teams to participate in the Instructional League, so that pound-foolish sad sacks like the Kansas City Royals can’t opt out as a misguided cost-saving measure. If need be, part of my revenue sharing plan will require richer franchises to kick in a higher percentage of the kitty.
- I will require all players to spend a certain minimum amount of time signing autographs for free before games. Any player caught shirking this duty or acting like a jerk about it will be fined, suspended, and publicly rebuked.
- I will encourage players who have the willingness and wherewithal to do so to consider writing weblogs as a way of interacting with fans. It’s my belief that the number of good guys in the league far outstrips the number of buttheads. I want these guys to be visible and accessible.
- Last but not least, I will do as Bart Giamatti (the best commissioner of my lifetime) did and attend as many games in as many cities as I can. I will make a point of talking to local media while in those cities about how much I enjoy going to games and how I’d rather be at the stadium – any stadium – on a beautiful summer day than just about anywhere else. I will do everything I can to help the game reconnect with its fans and reclaim its spot as the national pastime.
(With apologies to Alex Whitlock. Please note that I’m not claiming that I know how to save baseball. I’m just claiming that I know what I’d do if I were put in charge of baseball.)