Since Rob Manfred is hell-bent on destroying baseball, it’s incumbent for us to save baseball.
That is the purpose of this article: How to save Major League Baseball.
First, let’s not do what everyone else is doing.
Currently, MLB, because it is losing its casual (as opposed to hardcore loyal) fanbase, has decided, under the leadership of Rob Manfred, to do what other people are doing, which is to adapt to our misguided culture.
Our current culture has no patience for thinking, intelligent strategy, or what appears to be a more slow playing game.
I could argue that nothing is more slow playing than football players crouching in a huddle, but that is not the purpose of this conversation.
I could also argue that no quarterback can throw a football as fast as a baseball player throwing a hardball, but no one will care.
And I’d love to wager that there are more exciting plays in baseball than in football, but nobody will listen.
The perception exists that baseball is a slow, unexciting sport.
People have been programmed to repeat like Pavlov’s dog that baseball is boring.
In response to that, the misguided leaders of baseball are trying to speed up the game, to give it more zip.
One of the proposed ways to give it more zip is to institute a homerun derby to decide the game rather than have the game go into extra innings.
Obviously I think this is a bad idea.
It is a bad idea because baseball will then be conforming to a misguided culture, a culture that will ultimately have no permanence.
Instead, baseball should stay true to its roots.
In fact, baseball should double down and send a strong message to society that there are some things worth keeping.
To make the game more relevant and interesting, I would institute some of the following changes.
I would ban interleague play. This was a change that was instituted in the modern era in order to give people in National League cities a chance to view teams like the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Likewise people who live in American League cities could see the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Well, if people want to see the Boston Red Sox, they can travel to Boston or another American League city.
Or they can watch an American League game on a black and white TV with grainy reception like I did as a kid when I held the antenna in order to pick up Yankees games in NY, or Orioles games in Baltimore.
By banning inter-league play, we can strengthen divisional rivalries.
Why should the Phillies play a few useless games with the Yankees and the Red Sox, when they can play a few more relevant games with the Mets and Braves?
We Phillies fans hate the Mets. And when I say hate, I mean deep-seated visceral hate. That’s why we love playing them.
Let’s make divisions means something.
Let’s make the real season mean something.
Since the fan base is shrinking, let’s rely less on television revenue. Let’s quit trying to expand the baseball market to everyone.
When you try to please everyone, you please no one.
It’s very much like a chef at a restaurant who puts out bland food because he’s afraid of offending someone.
Offending someone would mean, gasp, less market share.
I would rather be offended.
Let’s put more seasoning in baseball.
When we lessen our reliance on television, we also lessen our reliance on Corporate America.
Corporate America will therefore be less likely to extend its political influence upon the game.
All Star games won’t be switched out of cities because Corporate America and their lackey commissioners don’t like the politics of a local area.
There is no place for politics in sports.
Ban athletes from making political statements.
Ban corporations from making political statements on a baseball field.
I have always viewed the baseball field as a church, a sacrosanct temple, free of political influence.
Not only should we eliminate politics from sports, we should eliminate all advertising on the field itself.
Get rid of those beer and car ads. If you want to put them on the concourse, fine; but, pleeeze, get rid of them on the playing field.
When we permit corporations to advertise on the playing field, we send a strong message to the players and to ourselves.
We are saying that our top priority is a dollar bill.
We are telling the world that we are for sale, that nothing is sacrosanct.
Eliminating advertising would go a long way to doing good for baseball and ourselves.
Along those lines, we can stop naming stadiums after corporations and corporate products.
We can rename many of these stadiums for people who have done honorable things – like we used to do.
Without advertising and television money, baseball players will necessarily make less money.
This will be good for the players.
Minus the fixation on money, and team-hopping for the bucks, players will be more likely to finish out their careers with the team they started with.
This will help generate greater interest amongst the fans.
Players will gain immeasurably in stature.
In earlier days, it was common for a player to spend a decade or more with one team.
Free agency and our culture of greed drove players to go to the highest bidder.
This was disastrous for fan interest and the career of the player.
Fans want to see that a player has loyalty to their team.
When that loyalty is restored, fan interest will increase.
Baseball will be a more fun game to watch.
Fans will be rooting for their guy, not a Hessian soldier.
Those would be the main changes I would make to baseball.
Obviously, the designated runner and the designated hitter would have to go.
Having that lousy-hitting pitcher come up during a rally made the game frustrating but more interesting.
Having that slow runner made you tear your hair out.
Having those extra innings made the game more interesting.
When your team goes 13 innings, you are sitting on the edge of your seat because you have invested so much time in the game.
When your team goes 19 innings, and they have to bring in the second baseman to pitch because they have run out of pitchers, as the Phillies did a few years ago when Wilson Valdez came in to take down the likes of Joey Votto and win the game, that is what makes the game interesting and memorable.
Let’s keep it that way.
Wilson Valdez takes down the middle of the Reds batting order?
That is a classic, baby.
The final change I would make is to eliminate the instant replay.
Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek alluded to this years ago. They felt that instant replay took the human element out of the game.
I didn’t understand that as a young man, but I understand it now.
The umpire, his humanity, and his imperfections are as much a part of the game as are the imperfections of the players.
We should embrace that.
We are fallible human beings, not impregnable silicon chips.
Yes, minus instant replay, the game won’t be technically perfect, but it will be a hell of a lot more interesting.
And we won’t be wasting endless minutes waiting for an umpire to stare into a black box.
Let’s move forward by returning to the past.
Copyright 2021 Archer Crosley All Rights Reserved