Attention all you sports fans out there, if you became commissioner of major league baseball, what changes would you make to the league? I consider myself to be a very lukewarm fan of the league. I am not a huge diehard fan or fanatic by any means. Just your average fan who enjoys watching a game from time to time on television or in person. I think MLB is a great league. No major sports league sport has the tradition that baseball has. The post season games always produce a lot of drama as well. Watching my Minnesota Twins win a couple of World Series ranks among some of my fondest memories ever. I still think the league could do more to improve the game and bring in new fans. The following are just a few ideas of mine that could help the league.
1. A more balanced schedule. Teams within their own division play each other 16-19 times. In my opinion, that is way too many games against the same old teams. As a fan, I am sick of seeing my team, the Twins play constantly against the same teams, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Cleveland. It would be nice to see teams from the East more often such as the Red Sox and the Yankees as well as teams from the National league. I am one of those fans who likes interleague play. I am sure that MLB baseball has the schedule set up the way they do for travel reasons but seeing a greater variety in the schedule would be appealing to many fans.
2. A designated hitter in both the National and American league. I am of the opinion that both leagues should follow the same rules. Why have a DH in one league and not the other? It makes no sense!! It is very painful to see most National league pitchers come to the plate and attempt to hit. It is pretty much an automatic out for their team. Suppose your starter is pitching a great game but trails 1-0 in the middle innings. Do you take him out of the game when his turn is up to bat because you need some base runners and hits? I hate to see a guy who is pitching a good game get yanked for that reason. The DH rule eliminates this problem. In addition, wouldn’t you rather see some good DH hitter bat who can hit home runs as opposed to some pitcher who is lucky to make any contact at all?
3. Expanded instant replay. Currently, there is instant replay allowed for questionable home run balls and will be expanded next year to include foul balls and questionable catches by outfielders. What about expanding it to calls on the base paths especially those at home plate? I have seen countless missed calls that have doomed teams in games including crucial playoff games. It would seem only logical with the high technology that is available to have expanded instant replay. Managers could be given a certain number of challenges in a game. Umpires are simply human and do make mistakes. I hate to see a team get robbed over a bad call made by an umpire.
4. Shorten the season. Unbelievably, this year’s season is guaranteed to end before November 1st if there are no rain outs or maybe snow outs!! In the old days, the season usually ended around October 15th. Today is October 18th and the World Series has not even started. That is totally ridiculous!! One of these years, the World Series is going to be delayed due to a major snowstorm. It will happen believe me!! I would like to see the season go from mid April to until October. The schedule should be dropped to about 144 games as well. My team, the Minnesota Twins opened the season at home on April 1st this year. The temp at game time was a balmy 32 degrees. If you must open the season at that time, make sure the schedule is loaded with away games for those northern teams. The fans will greatly appreciate it.
5. Speed up the games. If there was only one change that I would make, it would be this one. There is absolutely no reason that a 1-0 game should take 3 hours to play!! The league should be creative to find ways of speeding up some of these games. Maybe have a pitch clock similar to a 24 second clock in basketball or less time between innings. I love those managers who need to make 5 pitching changes every inning. These guys ought to be banned from the game!! Another annoyance is the player who constantly steps out of the batters box to adjust his uniform or the catcher/manager/coach who needs to visit his pitcher every inning. There are a lot of little things that MLB can do to speed up the game and prevent fans from having to endure those 4 hour 9 inning games.
I think the overall product of Major League baseball is very good and it is nice to be able to buy a ticket to a game without having to take out a second mortgage. I just wonder how the new generation of sports fans will attach to MLB. The NFL has overtaken them in terms of popularity with the NBA nipping at their heels. Is baseball too long and slow of a game for the next generation of fans? Only time will tell. It is very important for baseball to realize their new fan bases and make the proper changes. I still think the game is in very good shape for years to come.