Rodger Sherman of The Ringer recently put forth a truly awful rule change idea (for Sherman’s deep dive on the idea, go to the 20:00 mark here). If he were baseball commissioner, any team no-hit during the course of the season would be ineligible for the playoffs that year. His rationale: This would create higher stakes for offenses to avoid such embarrassment.
Sherman fully admits his idea is more fanciful than earnest, but it rekindles the fun barstool topic of what you would do if you were named commissioner for a day. In my case, I would first issue an executive fiat to change Rob Manfred’s name to Dorothy Mantooth. Next, I work down the following list of pet peeves and provocations.
Feel free ream, applaud or add your own ideas in the comments below. And remember, there are no bad ideas. Just ideas of questionable prudence probably hatched over several intemperate nights of sports-bar drinking.
- Quadruple minor league pay. Let’s start serious. It’s a disgrace that some Americans work full-time for minimum wage and remain below the poverty line. Just as bad is paying minor league baseball players even less than minimum wage. Cubs Insider’s Moshe Wilensky has written the annual cost per team to increase each minor leaguer’s pay by $30,000 is $5.4 million. Owners and the MLBPA need to right this wrong ASAP.
- Unearned error rule. Presently, if a pitcher’s own error or wild pitch leads to a run, it’s scored as unearned. This gives pitchers an ERA pass on their own mistakes. I’d count such runs as earned. Exception: If a reliever’s error allows an inherited runner to score, then charge the run to the reliever.
- Body armor penalty. Any pitch outside the strike zone that hits a piece of body armor (except the helmet) should count as a ball. This will reduce the penalty on pitchers who properly try to work the inside. And mass kudos to players like Anthony Rizzo who crowd the plate without any body armor and take their plunkings.
- Reliever protection measures. Relief pitchers are abused and their careers are prematurely shortened from overuse. I’d prevent any player from pitching in more than 65 regular season games a year (minor and major league games combined), and never more than twice in any four consecutive days.
- New MLB logo. Swap out the white silouhette of Harmon Killebrew for Javy Baez.
- Automated strike zones. The time has come. In this age of bat-on-shoulder, high-pitch-count strategy, let’s speed up games and give pitchers every strike that is their due while conversely eliminating terrible called strikes against batters. Nothing less, nothing more.
- Whiff-king timeouts. With baseball having set new all-time K records each of the last 10 years running, enough is enough. I’d institute automatic benchings for hitters at each key milestone. Two games instant unavailability at 100 K’s, 5 games at 150, and a full week at 200.
- On-camera swearing jar. Get caught swearing on camera, get fined $1,000 a pop. At the end of the year, give all the money to JDRF or the Roberto Clemente Award winner’s charity of choice.
- Cable TV tax. Baseball is losing its national-pastime bonafides with too many games aired on paid TV. Last year, a record 22 million Americans cut the cord on cable/satellite TV, atop 34 million who’ve never subscribed to any pay TV. You can’t expand your fanbase when so many can’t see the product. Solution: Tax any franchises with 50 percent or more of their games on pay TV. Then pump the proceeds into subsidizing struggling Little Leagues and high school programs in those media markets.
- Combine draft and international signings. This one is complex because agreements with different countries and foreign leagues vary and are set under the CBA; however, I’d switch to an NBA-style draft approach to unify all new talent acquisition. This also would help remove the shady stain on many Latin American signings – from kick-back arrests to the buscones to the Atlanta Braves’ recent shenanigans.