Dear Mr. Selig, let’s get this out of the way up front: Last year’s baseball season still has our heads spinning. From the greatest day in the game’s history (September 28, 2011—sorry, Red Sox fans) to a World Series for the ages (sorry, Rangers fans), it will go down as one of the best seasons ever. So…nice job. But that’s not to say the game can’t be improved. Ticket prices are too high, games are too slow, ball girls wear too much clothing, and beer and fried chicken in the clubhouse are somehow frowned upon. That ain’t right. So, Bud, please respectfully accept our blueprint for how to make an already great game even greater. You can thank us later.
Combine the Mets and the Dodgers
Are there two iconic franchises more poorly managed? Let’s merge ’em...and move the team back to Brooklyn. That’s the Dodgers’ spiritual home, and the Mets were formed only to fill the void left by Dem Bums. A Matt Kemp, David Wright hybrid? Gr-r-owl!
Forget about Pitch Counts Already!
Nolan Ryan is right: Pitch counts are for wimps. How come old-school hurlers like Christy Mathewson and Bob Feller threw 300 innings, killed Nazis, and took countless young fräuleins’ virginity, yet never seemed to hurt their arms? Somewhere Walter Johnson is screaming about how little these guys pitch and how much they get paid.
While we’re at it... make Nolan Ryan pitch.
If TV crews insist on showing the Texas Rangers’ president sitting in his front-row box every inning, he ought to pitch at least an inning a week. This would be fascinating. And you know he can probably still throw 85 mph.
“Fans are fielders” Day.
Bartman, Shartman: With this new rule, one day a year any foul ball caught by a fan counts as an out! All fans are encouraged to bring their gloves and help out the home team...or hurt the visiting team. We can name it in honor of Jeffrey Fucking Maier.
Junk the DH.
Forcing pitchers to hit makes for a more strategic, nuanced game, and wasn’t the pitcher always the best hitter in Little League anyway? What the hell happened?
End interleague play.
Nobody cares about interleague games besides Yankees and Mets fans. Who gives a chewed-up sunflower seed when the Nats play the Rays? We gave the concept a shot for 14 seasons. Save it for the Fall Classic.
The Pros Weigh In
“One thing basketball and football have on us is cheerleaders. It would be awesome if after a home run we had cheerleaders doing flips on the field. It might be distracting during the game, so I would say they can cheer in between innings and after home runs.”
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Make fantasy fantastic.
The basic difference between fantasy baseball and fantasy football is that with the former you’ve got 162 fucking lineups to set (or 10 times as many as football). How about a system where you set your lineup for the whole week, like football, instead of every single day? You’d still be following every game, but you also might manage to speak to your girlfriend.
If there’s one thing we learned in ’11, it’s that people love baseball when Brad Pitt’s involved. So we need to pitch Moneyball 2 pronto. Unfortunately it would have to be a tragedy. Sorry, A’s.
Ticket prices should sink, not rise.
More people in the stands means more people buying concessions. It’s not rocket science!
The Carlos Zambrano time share.
Even with Manny starring in Moneyball 2, we need more certified characters, and—apologies to Brian Wilson and Nyjer Morgan—no one is crazier than this big righty. Every boring team (we’re looking at you, O’s, Mariners, and Padres) should get two starts from the maniac just to give fans some WWE-style entertainment.
Make the road to the World Series harder for the wild card.
Baseball has the most grueling season of any major sport, and the teams with the best records should be rewarded. The Phillies, with 102 dubyas, won 12 more games than the Cardinals during the regular season. But the Cards beat Philly, who had just one more home game, in the NLDS. Shouldn’t a team be rewarded for five months of dominance?
Option A: The best team in each league should get a first-round bye, like in the NFL.
Option B: Better yet, have the team with the best record play four of the five or five of seven playoff series games at home.
Option C: The wild-card team should play one of its games drunk (just to see what Josh Hamilton would do) or take a hit of LSD like Dock Ellis did when he threw his no-hitter in 1970. It would certainly amp up the entertainment value.
Expand the division series to seven games.
Why run a sprint after finishing a marathon?
Lower the pitching mound
After the record-low-scoring season of 1968 (when Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA and Denny McLain won 31 games), baseball lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches. Now, with pitchers regularly topping 6'6", maybe we should send in the earth movers!
Arguably last year’s best player was NL MVP Ryan Braun. Who promptly failed a drug test. Leaving aside whether or not he’s actually a cheater (Braun denies it), wouldn’t regulating PEDs make for a more balanced playing field? And wasn’t the game more exciting when Bonds and McGwire were juicing?
Why restrict collisions to plays at the plate? They should be allowed at any base, and the fielder must hold on to the ball for the out. Granted, the Players Union (and Brian Kenny) may not like it, but this one is for the fans.
If we’re going to promote collisions, we need to face up to the very real dangers posed by concussions. While it’s not as bad as in football, boxing, or hockey, Justin Morneau’s concussion derailed the Twins the past few seasons. This calls for a National Concussion Awareness Week, in which all players must wear those ridiculously enormous helmets the Mets’ David Wright wore after his concussion.
Ball girls should wear skimpier outfits.
The girls who clean off the ice at NHL games wear less and less each season, and it’s cold on that white sheet. Give the ball girls a break—let ’em sport a tank and hot pants during the dog days.
Lengthen the All-Star break.
There’s no time off for perennial All-Stars such as Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. After playing on a Sunday afternoon, they fly in for the All-Star game to meet the media, hang out at the Home Run Derby, play Tuesday, and fly out Wednesday for a game on Thursday. There’s no break. It has to be a bitch to be Jeter or Pujols. Poor guys need some rest.
Fill the front row.
Is there anything more frustrating than seeing a stadium full of fans...except for the best seats, which are empty? Why not improve the experience by letting fans move on up to those empty seats after the fourth inning, when it’s clear no one is coming? To decide who gets an upgrade, teams can issue a comemorative “Uecker” bracelet to people who either buy packages, like eight games a year (even if their seats are way up high), or buy $25 in concessions. Buy two beers, a hot dog, and a pretzel and they give you a bracelet, which gives you the right to take any empty seat after the fourth inning. Too sensible?
More Beer and Chicken!
Eating fried chicken and drinking beer was blamed for the Red Sox collapse. Seriously? This is a problem? Every team should be eating fried chicken and drinking beer! As players from Babe Ruth to John Kruk to Prince Fielder have proved, baseball’s more fun when played by fat dudes
in tight uniforms.
Enough with the throwback uniforms!
On July 20, in honor of the moon landing, each team must wear a futuristic “throw forward” uniform. Imagine lasers blasting everyone in
front of you in the urinal line.
The Pros Weigh In
“Make it mandatory for fans to wear the home team’s gear. Sometimes it feels like you’re the away team playing in your own park, because so many fans have the opposing colors on. Yes, we notice fans wearing the other team’s jerseys when we play at home. Have everyone wear home caps and jerseys—that would be the Morse rule. If you can’t do that, how about putting all the opposing fans in one section?”
Mike Morse, Washington Nationals
Back in the day, baseball had the Iron Horse, the Splendid Splinter, the Say Hey Kid, and Charlie Hustle. Now the best we can come up with is A-Rod? Let’s give awesome new nicknames to some of the game’s worthy players:
• Antonio “Ol’ Dirty” Bastardo
• Angel“Two Face” Pagan
• John “the Ax Murderer” Axford
• Yankee pitchers CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, both 6'7", are the Twin Towers. (Too soon?)