My partner Jim Deshaies was once asked what he would do if he could be baseball commissioner for a day. His answer was vintage JD: “I’d make myself commissioner for life.”
I think all baseball fans ponder this question for fun. In the end, it’s not a job I could ever handle with all the various constituencies I’d have to keep happy.
But, if I could be commish for a day, here’s what I would try to do.
I would get rid of the designated hitter for good. And add a 26th roster spot to appease the union. The DH makes for a less strategic game. I like managers managing their lineup card in the late innings, and I want every player on the diamond to be a two-way player. That’s baseball.
I would cap September game-day rosters at the same limit as the rest of the season. It is crazy that in the season’s most crucial month, we see clubs with different roster sizes and bloated bullpens, taking away a good manager’s ability to out-strategize his opponent.
You can have 40 on your September roster, but each day you have to have “healthy scratches” like hockey does.
I would create a team error statistic. The popup that drops between two defenders now is either a cheap hit or an error on one of the players. Balls that should be caught but aren’t and have no obvious offender need to be considered team errors. It’s the equivalent of the NBA’s team rebound.
I would have five umpires work every game. The fifth would have his own booth upstairs with a TV monitor and he would be in charge of replay reviews.
I would expand replay to fair/foul calls in addition to the current boundary calls. And I would allow that replay official to immediately alert the crew chief when a call needs to be changed.
I would put a microphone on the home-plate umpire, who would, like an NFL referee, be able to announce to the crowd (and broadcasters!) lineup changes and rulings on unusual plays. Too often, calls are made and never properly explained until the game is over.
I would either say goodbye to interleague play or devise a schedule that has every team playing at least one series vs. every team in baseball. The current schedule has too much quirkiness to it. I want teams in my own division to play the same schedule my team plays.
I would add two expansion teams (how about bringing Montreal back to the National League and adding a third New York area team, maybe in New Jersey?) and create four eight-team divisions.
And the playoff system would be simple: four division winners and one wild card per league. The top team in each league gets a first-round bye. The other division winner gets homefield advantage over the wild-card team. All playoff series would be seven games.
I would require every team to schedule at least one old-fashioned doubleheader each season. Not the day/night type, but the old-school, two-for-the-price-of-one variety. Maybe have a couple of days every season on which every matchup on that day’s slate is a double dip. I guarantee it would be very popular.
I would ban alternate uniforms. I want all the teams to pick one home and one road jersey and stick with it. If you want one “retro” day at home per year, fine. But enough with the myriad extra looks.
I think that’s pretty much all I would change. Nothing outrageous. Just help move the game forward while maintaining and bringing back some tradition, too.
ŸLen Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @LenKasper and check out his [URL]blog entries;http://wgntv.com/news/stories/len-and-jds-cubs-baseball-blog/[URL] with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com. To post comments or questions for Len, click on the comment link with his column at dailyherald.com.[/URL]Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.