The Indians dropped yet another one today, losing 5-4 as Toronto finished off a three-game sweep. I could go into a rant about Luis Valbuena’s 9th inning error, or how bringing in Chris Perez for a five out save reeks of desperation by Manny Acta, but I won’t. Instead, I’d like to bring to the table a few ideas my brother Dan came up with when I was on the phone with him earlier.
Dan feels baseball is becoming too much of a sport for hardcore fans only, and is becoming more of a niche sport like hockey. Among the things in baseball he lamented about is a common complaint, especially among Tribe fans, and that’s the disparity between the haves and the have nots. And one of the ideas he had has been thrown out there a thousand times, and that’s a salary cap.
I, for one, don’t see a salary cap as a cure-all for what ales baseball. For starters, the NBA has a salary cap and it doesn’t really encourage parity, it simply encourages teams to overpay for players. You still have teams that don’t compete, and you even have teams like the Knicks that tank two seasons just for a shot at signing a star player. I think a minimum payroll coupled with a functioning revenue sharing system would work much better. Of course, this would never happen, because baseball doesn’t have a strong, forward-thinking commissioner like the NFL has in Roger Goddell or the NBA has in David Stern. No, baseball has Bud Selig, a former owner who is now the owners’ lackey. The owners are looking out for their own skins, and why would the Yankees share their vast revenues with the Indians, who probably don’t make dick.
Dan and I both agree the season should be shortened. What we differ on is how short. Dan thinks the season should be about 100 games, and teams should play about 3-4 times a week, like in the NBA (He’s a big NBA fan). I think the season should be cut by about a month. Many major-league cities are too cold at the start of April, and attendance ususally sucks anyways, so slash off about 25 games. We both agree that this would help the sport by making games more meaningful, plus fans would be able to see better pitchers since in Dan’s plan you’d only need about three legit starting pitchers and with my plan you’d probably need four starters. Nothing sucks more than going out to the ballpark and having a matchup of #5 starters.
(And before you start throwing out names like Cliff Lee, who was the #5 starter going into 2008, his Cy Young year, keep in mind how many fifth starters in the league are terrible. There’s a reason they won the last starting job.)
Think of how fun the playoffs are for baseball. Those games mean something, and by shortening the season, the games would have more meaning. I wouldn’t be blowing off early games to watch a meaningless Cavs game again. You’d get to see much better quality of competition, and you’d reduce the need for long relievers and ineffective relievers would be a thing of the past, because you wouldn’t need to keep a crappy reliever to fill out a roster spot.
Of course, the player’s union would throw a fit, because you’re obviously cutting jobs, and like I said before, baseball doesn’t have a legit commissioner to keep the union in check. And really the only way for the commissioner to have that kind of power would be for the owners and the players to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that if they want to continue making money that the sport needs to not only change, it needs to evolve. Baseball should embrace the statistical revolution and instead of mocking those who use sabermetrics and other advanced statistics, the sport should educate the common fan as to what OPS or WAR or WHIP means, because it helps keep fans into the game. If you understand the game better, you’ll enjoy it more. Statistics help us understand the game better, they don’t make it more confusing.
Of course, none of this will happen. Because Major League Baseball is the most short-sighted of all the professional sports leagues in America. They figure they have our money now and will worry about the rest later. I love this sport, but even I can see the flaws in that line of thinking. But if baseball is to survive in the 21st century, it needs to change. And that starts at the top. So therefore, I nominate myself for commissioner of baseball. My slogan will be “Carroll Cares About Baseball”. Spread the word.