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updated: 8/31/2014 6:33 PM

Rozner: New MLB boss should reinstate Pete Rose

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  • Barry Rozner says the first thing new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred should do when he takes over is to reinstate Pete Rose.

      Barry Rozner says the first thing new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred should do when he takes over is to reinstate Pete Rose.
    Associated Press

  • Pete Rose is Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader with 4,256.

      Pete Rose is Major League Baseball's all-time hits leader with 4,256.
    Associated Press

 
 

Meet the new Bud, same as the old Bud.

That's the feeling of many baseball folks as Rob Manfred prepares to take over in January as the 10th commissioner of Major League Baseball.

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Bud Selig's right-hand man the last 11 years -- after 15 years as Selig's chief labor lawyer -- Manfred's big moment in the spotlight came in March 2005 when baseball execs, players and union bosses were dragged in front of the House Government Reform Committee in Washington.

At one point, Congressman Christopher Shays fired at all the parties, saying, "It boggles the mind that you would send us a drug policy and that the document is wrong. It's just sloppy. You guys are the best lawyers around. It's a drafting error? That, to me, is unbelievable."

While Selig acted typically baffled and disheveled, Manfred came off particularly bad, showing contempt for, and irritation with, lawmakers.

And now he's the man in charge.

Manfred will again be in the spotlight as the baseball world watches to see what changes, if any, he'll be willing to make, and how fast he'll be willing to make them.

The truth is there's nothing wrong with baseball. The game is great. Always has been great. The problems are with Major League Baseball.

And some of them are easily fixable.

So here are some suggestions for Manfred that will help the game move forward, and some that just need to be acted on in the best interests of the fans, the game and its history:

Pete Rose

The first thing Manfred should do is lift the lifetime ban on Rose so the current version of the Veterans Committee in charge of his era can vote him into the Hall of Fame.

What Rose did as a manager was wrong, but there's no evidence to suggest he bet on the game while playing. He's the all-time hits king. Vote him in immediately.

If Manfred doesn't want Rose working in the game, it's hard to argue with that, but he might also explain then why it's OK for Mark McGwire and Manny Ramirez.

All-Star Game

If Manfred's first move is Rose, his second should be removing the absurd rule that the winner of a midsummer exhibition game decides home field for the World Series. Here's a radical thought: Give it to the team with the best record.

Expanded playoffs

If the extra wild card is a must -- and there's no turning back from it -- then make it at least a best-of-three. One and done after 162 games is cruel and unusual.

Baseball probably doesn't want playoff teams sitting around too long, so maybe a best-of-five is unrealistic, but best-of-five would be a better test and still punishing for the wild-card winner.

In any case, one game is not enough.

Pace of play

This is a bigger deal to media than fans.

But you're not going to eliminate pitching changes, long counts and commercials, so the best way to speed up the game is to enforce the rules. Make batters stay in the box and put pitchers on a clock, and that's only going to save about 15 minutes a game.

Baseball is not fast. It's not hockey. It's not basketball. It's not the X Games. Most people who love the game don't care about the pace of the game. They care about the quality of the game.

Good teams that play long games and win World Series don't get a lot of complaints about the length of their games.

Home plate replay

The intention was good, but the result has been a disaster. If this can't be fixed in a logical manner, remove the rule.

Blackout rules

You want to grow the game? Remove every restriction to watching games through apps, mobile devices and streaming. This is how young people do everything. No more local blackouts. Of any kind. Ever.

Cuban refugees

As it stands, a Cuban player must establish residency in a third country before signing as a free agent in America. A player seeking asylum in the U.S. gets tossed into the amateur draft.

In order to make big money faster, players ready to play in the majors flee Cuba and take harrowing journeys, sometimes having to pay big dollars to traffickers who threaten the players and their families.

Until there's a worldwide draft governing all players, this is unfair to Cuban players, but MLB may need help from the government to change this ancient and dangerous practice.

There are many more, but there's just a few ways to help the game quickly.

It was said of Selig that when navigating changes in baseball, he bought 10 owners, promised 10 others and lied to the other 10.

But he generally found a way to get it done.

Time will tell whether Manfred will be any different from his current boss, or if he has ideas of his own and the influence among owners to make real change.

He should make a list, check it twice and be ready in January with some extraordinary announcements.

Soon enough, Manfred will be on the clock.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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