The natural (over-) reaction when things don't go perfectly, especially post-season baseball, seems to be "tear it down and fix it". Sometimes, like the monsoon that hit Philly Monday and Tuesday this week, these things are unavoidable and equally rare. Some things, however, can be addressed and changed without meaningful impact to the game, the season, the teams, the almighty revenues.
Shorten the postseason. Eliminate off days. The quicker we get to the end of the book, the better. While you're at it, throw in a daytime World Series game so people not living in California don't have to set their alarm to see the final out.I agree with the 10,000 foot view of these ideas, but the devil's in the details. Here's my thoughts on these three ideas:
Shorten the games. Seriously, can we start enforcing the time between at-bats, namely with the Red Sox and Yankees? These guys have routines between pitches with more gyrations than Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. If there's no consequence for those two teams, there's no way other players are going to abide by the pace-of-game rules.
Shorten the season. This has no chance of happening. But I wouldn't mind a few regularly-scheduled doubleheaders during the summer where kids get in free with a paying adult.
- Shorten the postseason: I like the idea of reducing the off-days, particularly when there's no change in time zones between the teams. It's a 3 hour or so flight from Philly to Tampa. Does that require an extra day off?
If they start the games at the regular season start times, which I have been saying for ages, we'd finish the games at a more reasonable time.
Kill the 37 minute pre-game show. This isn't football. We're not breaking down film here. The show comes on at 8pm, first pitch at 8:07pm. Game on. Of course, I'd say do that an hour earlier if there is no West Coast team involved.
The fifth game of each series will be during the day, allowing the team to fly out that night and play the NEXT day.
Most importantly, put the power back in the hands of MLB to make changes to the scheduling. This will be fought by the networks who want everything scheduled to increase their programming viewers. It will be a hardship for those attending the games to manage the changes in start times (or even dates), as well as the field staff to get everything ready. But this can be done. Bud can't let Fox dictate everything. This might not change until the next contract negotiations, but is should be front and center in the next contract.
- Shorten the games: The ads aren't going away; we've got to feed the engine somehow, but can they charge more per spot and just run FEWER spots? Make it a highly sought after ad space rather than flooding each break.
Enforce the pitch clock. Keep the batters in the box.
Restrict the catcher/pitcher conferences. We can't restrict the number of pick-off attempts as that would put the benefit too squarely in the runner's side of the ledger but after watching the 5 or so attempts that Hamels took to keep Upton close, even I was barking at the TV.
Again, start the games at a more reasonable time.
- Shorten the season: Agreed. Host day/night double headers so the teams can keep the gate receipts on par and double dip their parking receipts, too. I don't know if I am in favor of reducing the absolute number of games, but I'd like to see a double header once a month.
Having the World Series potentially end (and I say potentially since we haven't seen a Game 7 in years; we haven't even seen a Game SIX since 2002!) on November 6, 2009 is preposterous.
There isn't much to do here, but the additional double-header a month will shorten the regular season by about a week. That's worth trying.
- Other ideas: I love this idea that I read somewhere (no idea where, otherwise I'd give the due credit), have the home team broadcasting crew announce their home games. Let the viewers hear some new voices. Considering the general disdain for Buck and McCarver that's out there, this might be fun. I'd only hope the Cubbies make it to hear their crew! And Harry Kalas must announce every starting line-up. In fact, have Kalas as the stadium announcer for every game.
Give the Mayor's bet some teeth. The LOSER of the bet has to come to the city of the winning team --with his entire senior staff-- and help clean up AFTER THE TICKER TAPE PARADE. It combines real risk along with real shame in losing, plus it makes for a great photo op with a sitting mayor of a major city, broom in hand, cleaning the streets with his/her senior staff as the victors celebrate with the winning mayor at City Hall.
No neutral site World Series. I riffed on this the other day and I still think a neutral site proposal has no merit. Then I thought of only one place where I'd be supportive of such an event: Las Vegas. If you hold a week-long World Series in Vegas, well, I might have to reconsider my stance. That might be an incredible party. So long as MLB compensates the cities for their lost revenues. Will still be priced out of reach for most "average" fans, though, factoring in travel, hotels, meals, "incidentals".
No more All-Star game determining HFA.
What am I missing? What would you add?