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AZ SnakePit Round Table: The State of Baseball

How is the state of baseball as we end the first decade of the third millennium? That was the question for the SnakePit Round table this week. Is the decline in attendance at games an issue? Does competitive balance need to be addressed? What would be changed if we were commissioners? The answers to these and other questions can be found below...

Baseball attendance dropped again this year - only by 446,000, but it’s now at its lowest since 2004, and we also saw poor viewing figures for the World Series. Is this is a problem?

Wailord: I don’t know how much you can takeaway from a single season. Even if it is a decline, reaching numbers from just six years ago doesn’t sound like the world is ending. After all, if it hit that low in 2004 it obviously had to gradually increase before it could fall. I don’t know what I’d attribute the decline to, but I certainly wouldn’t be concerned with a relatively minor drop in one year. Once it’s a trend we can start worrying.

Kishi: I wouldn’t be too concerned about it quite yet- half a million people sounds like a lot, but when you figure it’s scattered across around 2500 games, that’s a drop of fewer than 200 people a game. Not that bad, given the rough economy. For the World Series, you had two teams that aren’t among the tops in fanbases, with a lot of names that people wouldn’t necessarily recognize, so I think the drop in viewership isn’t too surprising.

IHSB: WHOA WHOA WHOA KISHI. Get outta my space. , - wait, Morpheus? Am I in the Matrix?  Way to take the wrong pill. I have allergies! I thought that one was a antihistamine!  Well, now this isn’t gonna make ANY sense at all.  I vote we keep it here.  In fact, I’m definitely keeping that here. As we type, Jim is already reconsidering this whole collaborative document thing.  He should have reconsidered it at the board meeting.  It’s too late now.

soco: I’d think that if Jim hadn’t abandoned this four mutiny-heavy roundtables ago, then he isn’t ever going to.

DbacksSkins: Please stand by while we recover IHSB’s account from victor frankenstein...

Actually IHSB: I’m not worried.  We’re not like the NBA, thinking of contracting teams.  Sure, someone could go bankrupt like the Rangers again in theory, but if nobody else is willing to buy a team, there’s always Mark Cuban to step in.  If Bud Selig freaking allow him to ever.

Kishi: I think the one thing that might kill Bud Selig would be Mark Cuban buying a team and hiring Ozzie Guillen to manage. Or maybe they end up as mismatched roomates in college, or something, it might make a great sitcom.

IHSB: But you know what?  It’d probably make a heckuva baseball team.

Azreous: It’s not a problem — yet. In fact, considering how bad the economy has been over the past 2-3 years, I’m surprised attendance hasn’t taken a slightly bigger hit.

soco: No, it’s not a problem.  MLB’s revenue is still going up, regardless of "low" ratings for the World Series, and attendance is likely a short-term, demand based issue.

Jim: I think part of the reason for the attendance drop is the increasing appeal of television. The gap in the experience between attending the game and watching it on TV is smaller now than ever. HD, surround-sound and, now, 3-D television, makes the prospect of struggling through crowds and paying $10 for a beer to watch the game live, less attractive. Eventually, we’ll all end up watching the game via holographic headsets, and the players will perform in front of entirely computer-generated crowds. I believe Tampa are already working on the latter.

Kishi: In the Chavez Ravine edition of the crowds, the hologram generators refuse to work until the third inning, I presume.

soco: I actually wrote a short story with this very pretense.  Fans can buy "skins" to change what the background of the game they’re viewing, like new (or classic) stadiums.

Tom Verducci suggested "an essential part of the game's romance is in decline", and that walks are boring. Add the drop in home-runs - the 150 per team in the NL was last seen for a full season in 1993, and is 20% off 2000’s number - and is the game less interesting to the casual fan?

Kishi: That’s an interesting article to read from the perspective of how statistics can be manipulated- saying it’s gone from 21% to 28% in 30 years isn’t nearly as surprising as that it’s gone up 37% since 1980. But he’s complaining about a two percent climb in at-bats ending without the ball being put in play, over ten years? How many plate appearances does the average team get in a game? This year, it was 35.9- so, by Verducci’s shocking increase, a team is going to have about one more walk or K every game and a half. I’d be more inclined to think Verducci’s bored because he’s watching the Yankees play, and their games take about a fortnight to play, on average.

DbacksSkins: Normally, I’d agree with your disagreement, Devin. I WILL, however, note that, as a Vintage Base Ball player, it’s a lot more fun to put the ball in play. As one of the few players in the league who’s actually drawn a walk, would you agree?

IHSB: That’s what happens when you take steroids away from baseball.  The fans have called for it, and they’re getting it.  If they’re really jumping ship now, it’s an absurd display of hypocrisy.  Not that that would surprise me at all...

soco: I’m not even sure what Verducci’s comment means.  Are we going through a decline of hitting?  Perhaps.  Does that turn off the casual fans?  I don’t think it does.  Look how much coverage and talk there was this year about it being the "Year of Pitching."  Casual fans notice this, and are forced to acknowledge good pitching performances.  I think if the coverage is there, which it certainly was from Sports Illustrated to MLB Network, then the casual fans will pick up on it.

Azreous: Considering how much of the luster has been removed from the steroid era, this isn’t exactly a new development. The time of "chicks dig the long ball" has long since passed. If anything, I wonder if the casual fan wouldn’t complain more about pace of play before balls in play.

Wailord: As soco said, the media’s deeming of 2010 as the Year of the Pitcher shows that it’s really just a rebranding of the same game. A different facet of it is rising to prominence, and although (at least in my lifetime) hitting’s been the big thing, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if pitchers became the new big deal and you hear more about ten strikeout games than two-homer games. Steroids are out, and it seems like we’re transitioning into a more pitching-heavy game. I actually started a Fanshot a few months ago to compare stats and see if pitching’s rise was at all related to anything concerning steroids. Maybe I should publish that at some point.

Jim: I think there’s a few problems with turning pitchers into the focus, at least for the casual fan. Any given starter won’t appear in 80% of your team’s games, and also, many pitching records are untouchable. For instance, who holds the single-season strikeout mark? If you know it was Matt Kilroy, who fanned 513 in 1886, you’re a better student of the game than I! Runs are what win games, in the end; you can’t win without scoring, and you rarely see teams dog-piling on the pitcher at the mound after a walk-off fly-ball.

I see Verducci’s point, though don’t think it’s unique to baseball; an offensive style of play will tend to be more attractive to fans in almost any game, from chess to roller-derby. Nothing new there in baseball: hitters have probably been the focus of the game since Babe Ruth [who was a pretty good pitcher] swatted the first 50-homer season. I tend to think the bar will simply drop, to the point where a 40 HR year is seen as impressive.

Perhaps a bigger problem is the lack of "personalities," which I think is what the fans really relate to. Say what you like about Bonds, McGwire and Sosa, they were memorable figures. Will anyone remember Jose Batista in a decade?

IHSB: But, but, but, it’s because it’s Canananananada, and J.P. Ricciardi says that it’s impossible to get players to want to play in Canada and to get the media to pay attention to Canada!  Which is exactly why Cuban defector Adeiny Hechavarria signed there instead of with the Yankees...

soco: It’s true that an offensive style of play is desired in all sports by casual fans.  People talk about classic college handegg games that are shootouts, basketball devised the shot-clock to make it a higher scoring game, and chicks dig the long ball.  I think that this attitude is succumbing to the laziness, or ignorance, of the casual fan.  If we want casual fans to appreciate pitching and defense, then we have to build the narrative that pitching and defense are exciting.  Let’s not bow to the whims of the lowest common denominator.

This year’s World Series saw the 9th-highest payroll (Giants) take on the 27th-ranked payroll (Rangers). Does this prove competitive balance in baseball is thriving perfectly well? Or is the domination of the Yankees (15 playoff appearances in 16 years) still a problem?

Azreous: It proves that small-market teams can still be competitive if they’re smart with how they utilize their payroll and they get a little lucky (like the resurgence of Josh Hamilton the past few years). Oakland was the poster boy for that same mantra earlier in the 2000s. But like we’ve talked about with the Diamondbacks, the margin of error is significantly smaller compared to the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, et. al. A team with a $50 million payroll can’t afford to be wrong if it signs a free agent for $10 mil per. And a team with a $75 million payroll can’t afford Eric Byrnes.

IHSB: It also proves that there is so much more to a baseball team than the players signed and acquired by its general manager.  Sabean’s moves suck (Zito, Rowand) more often than they don’t (Huff, Burrell), but the Giants hit big on four recent first-round picks in Cain (‘02 from HS), Lincecum (‘06 from University of Washington), Bumgarner (‘07 from HS), and Posey (‘08 from Florida State Unversity).  Three starting pitchers of ace, #2, and #3 caliber, and a star catcher.  That’s great scouting, great drafting, and great player development.

Kishi: Looking at it from a larger standpoint, we’ve had 14 different teams make it to the World Series in ten years. I think the big budget teams like the Yankees have an advantage, certainly, but they aren’t nearly as dominant as they were in, say, the late ‘90s, when they won four titles in five years. Teams are learning to compensate for the money difference.

soco: I don’t think there’s a problem here.  We have both a high number of teams that have appeared in the World Series (unpredictability) and dominant teams year in and out like the Yankees or Phillies of recent years (stability).  I think both of these elements provide a more balanced, and by extension better, product.

Wailord: We’ve had nine different teams win the Series in ten years and fourteen different make it. Look at the NFL - they have the same 10/14 number, but they’ve had only six different teams win their championship. I don’t know how much you can take out of the financial situations of the two World Series teams, but I don’t think there’s an issue with competitive balance. Do the Yankees have a lot of money? Yeah. Are they - at least, as of late - the sort of Patriots or Steelers the NFL’s seen recently? Not right now.

Jim: I still think there is a significant issue, which is somewhat concealed by both the crap-shoot nature of the playoffs and the divisional system. It’s easier to compete in the NL West with a small pay-roll, where no team was at $100 million, than the AL East, where you might as well go ahead and put the Yankees in a post-season spot before Opening Day. To me, that’s not balance, in any shape or form. Their huge payroll provides both an inherent advantage and, as Azreous noted, mistakes like, say, AJ Burnett, can basically be written off.

soco: It’s not balanced, but is balance even desirable?  I don’t think it is.

DbacksSkins: It’s ABSOLUTELY still an issue. As noted, money doesn’t buy success, but it buys a larger margin of error.

On the other hand, documents released earlier this year showed the Pirates profiting nicely from revenue-sharing. Is that something that needs to be addressed?

Kishi: I think it definitely does. Particularly in the case of teams like the Pirates and the Marlins- especially with the Marlins stadium situation, though that’s a whole different kettle of, er, a whole different situation, I should say. I know there’s the "baseball is a business" aspect of it, and I understand that, but if your business plan isn’t allowing you to survive without living off the profits of the other companies in your industry, then you probably shouldn’t be in the market.

IHSB: For what it’s worth, I think it has been addressed.  The Marlins were forced to spend some money last off-season, though they managed to find good ways of doing it (i.e. extending Josh Johnson), and the Pirates are starting to spend as well, with their $6MM bonus to Jameson Taillon and their hefty bonus to second-round pick Stetson Allie as two examples.  They’re apparently also being aggressive in free agency, targeting the likes of Adrian Beltre.

soco: I think it needs to be addressed not by adding in a salary floor, but by auditing and penalizing teams that don’t use their revenue-shared gains to better their teams.  How that would actually work, I’m not entirely sure.

Wailord: I’m not opposed to a salary floor, but I don’t think auditing’s such a bad idea, either. Maybe a combination of the two? I dunno, I’m not an economics major - but does it need addressed? Yes. It’s great that Pittsburgh can still pull in money and fans are still into the game even with such a terrible franchise, but if the fans are being led to believe the team has an issue with being a perennial cellar-dweller when in reality they’re perfectly complacent, something needs fixing.

Jim: Hang on... Who let Wailord in here? Security!

That there’s a problem seems clear to me; revenue-sharing was not introduced to line owners’ pockets, but was supposed to be a solution to competitive balance. To propose a more radical solution, I think all teams should be compelled to open their books publicly; the scrutiny which would result would largely stop this kind of shady shenanigans. And if the commissioner won’t do it, let’s have Congress step in. They can get rid of baseball’s antitrust exemption, to start with.

soco: The reason why a salary floor would be awful is that it would raise the overall salary curve of the game, which would have the effect of not only making the game pricier, but not fixing what it was designed to fix.  Bum players would still fill Pittsburgh’s roster, they would just be paid more.  Salary should rise because the talent warrants it (and with the signifi7cant talent decompression of expansion, it would be hard to make an argument that the talent warrants it), not because we want to provide artificial controls.  

DbacksSkins: Tim’s "auditing" idea is in support of pretty much what the Pirates argued when their financial records were leaked -- that the documents in question didn’t include the money they’d spent on scouting and player development.

Tim, a salary floor would certainly raise the overall price of talent, but I don’t quite understand why you think that doesn’t do anything to address the disparity. Either a salary cap or floor would close the gap between the Yankees and everyone else, and wouldn’t necessarily increase the overall available funds for player salaries.

soco: It’s just going to artificially raise the price of players.  It hasn’t changed the motivation of the Pirates, just how much they have to spend.  The Marlins were told by MLB and the Union to start spending more, and it didn’t result in a better season.  If there’s a price floor then the Pirates raise their salaries, which moves the entire price scale up (since if crappy players are making X, then better players should make even more than X) it’ll just mean that other teams that can pay more will to get the players they want.  It’s not addressing the fact that the Pirates are just really freaking stupid at getting talent.  So yes, it would cut off their margin, but that’s not going to guarantee better performance.

We already discussed expanding the post-season a bit. Thoughts, please...

Azreous: I’m not a fan. First, as much as I love basketball, there’s something to be said for the playoffs being diluted with 16 teams, especially when two or three in the Eastern Conference seem to be below .500 and still get in each year. Second, it’s something of a logistical nightmare based on the current structure. You’ve got three division winners and a wild card. For it to work, you have to add at least two teams from each league and hand out byes. So...three wild cards? But then one of the division winners doesn’t get a bye, so is the pennant any more meaningful than before?

Kishi: Don’t like it. Making the playoffs longer would be a bad decision, weather-wise, at the very least. I don’t want something like basketball or hockey’s playoffs, which seem to go on forever.

IHSB: I’ll say now what I said in that previous post.  No thanks, Bud.

soco: I think it depends on how it is implemented.  I’d be okay with a 1 game "play-in" game for the two wild cards of each League.  This would force the wild cards to use their best pitcher (theoretically, anyways) in that game, which helps provide additional reward to division winners.

Wailord: I don’t think adding another team would hurt the game all that match. Assuming they can work it out logistically, if you had an extra team vie for a spot, I wouldn’t really mind. I hadn’t previously heard of a one game play-in, but I think it sounds like a great idea. It, as soco said, gives an extra edge to the division winners, plus you’d get an awesome game each year. Maybe it’s just me, but I love play-in games.

Jim: I like the one-game play-in scenario, but am against anything more than that - including the expansion of the division series to seven games. There are too many dead days, with zero or one game, in the post-season schedule already. I’d be in favor of compressing those down, getting rid of the travel days, to start with.  

What about adding two more teams, one in each league, and reorganising into 4x4 divisions?

Azreous: Not terrible, but then again, the wild card has its merits, particularly in divisions that are stacked. If you’ve got a four-team AL East with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays, and only one team makes the postseason each year, that’s a disaster. So for me, a playoff modification has to be eight teams in each league, or you leave it alone. Whether that’s based on the current 30-team model or a 32-team expansion doesn’t change much for me.

Kishi: This, I would be in favor of, though the realignment would be a little tricky. Add two teams, four divisions in each, and drop the wild card. (Besides, it’s likely that either the Rays or the Jays are out of the AL East in a realignment.) Yeah, there’ll probably be teams that don’t make the playoffs, even if they deserve it. But that’s going to happen in every scenario. Not really any way to avoid it, unless you just want to give out Sportsmanship trophies at the end of the year.

Azreous: That’s exactly what I want to do. Sportsmanship trophies, orange slices and Capri Suns. You’ve just fixed everything that was wrong with baseball.

Kishi: And at the end of the season, pizza party for everyone!

Jim: We would need a really big Chuck E. Cheese for that. Though it would be nice to see Eric Byrnes again...

IHSB: It wouldn’t be the worst concept, but a team would also have to move from the NL to the AL, and I don’t see anybody wanting to do that.  NL rotations and lineups are not built to suddenly be thrust into AL schedules.  Yeah, the NL Central is huge, but if it’s up to me, I keep things the way they are.  Eliminating the wild card slot doesn’t really do a ton of good.

Jim: You could add both teams to the AL, eliminating the need for anyone to shift. It would complicate the wild-card picture, certainly... Two wild-card teams, playing the 3rd- and 4th-best division winners maybe with the two best getting byes? A bit like our fantasy leagues, in fact...

soco: Where are the markets?

Wailord: I’d absolutely love the idea, only because there’s a chance Vegas would finally see a professional sports team (and the best sport, even). We’re building some sort of new super-stadium to replace the crappy Thomas & Mack (UNLV’s arena), so I’m still really hoping we get some sort of team. I think an NL Southwest of HOU/ARI/LAS/COL or something would be pretty awesome. Then again, the odds of us getting a team in Vegas are still slim. Looking at it selflessly (assuming Vegas would not be getting a team), I think it’s best to keep it as is.

IHSB: You’d still be a D-backs fan first, right?  RIGHT?!

Wailord: Of course. /crossed fingers

Kishi: Alignment would be the other problem. Say Vegas gets a team- for the NL West, you’ve got to go Giants, Dodgers, Padres, and... Vegas? Diamondbacks? Where do the Rockies get bumped to? (Other than straight to "Teams We’re Glad We Don’t Play 81 Times A Season Anymore.") Do we start up an NL South with the Astros, Braves, Marlins, and someone else? Realignment is one of my occasional "I’m bored, let’s kill time" projects, and depending on who they bring in, there aren’t a lot of easy answers.

DbacksSkins: I love the idea of a 32 team league with 8 4-team divisions, like the NFL, but that’s mostly because I have a strange love of square numbers.

Should the next frontier of expansion for MLB be in the US or outside it?

IHSB: A recent article I read mentioned that Cuba would be an interesting option if that embargo ever got lifted, and I’d agree.  But trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic flights for a single series aren’t worth it for the teams currently in the league, not to mention for the team that would have the misfortunate of making dozens of those trips every year.

Canada might be interesting, but I doubt that a team would want to go to Vancouver before it would want to go to places like Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Portland, Charlotte, Indianapolis, or other Triple-A markets.  For what it’s worth, Vancouver’s minor-league team is a Short-Season A-ball affiliate.  Yes, it is below freaking South Bend on the minor league baseball hierarchy.

Kishi: Cuba would be interesting- just move the Marlins there, I imagine that might make them more popular in Miami than being in Miami would.

soco: No, seriously.  Where are the markets?  Portland is a pretty big area, but isn’t a very big TV market.  Portland has also been pretty clear about not building a MLB stadium (and just ran out it’s minor league team in favor of MLS).  Las Vegas isn’t a big TV market, either, and has the whole gambling thing.  Go back to Canada?  Montreal is probably dead in the water, Vancouver would be interesting but unlikely, and there’s no where else in the Great White North.  Maybe a third team in Texas?  San Antonio has a nice population, but is also low on TV market.  Maybe Indy, or Sacramento, or Charlotte?  

There’s just no "great" market waiting right now.  It’ll need a good combination of population, TV market, private ownership, and willingness to build a ballpark.

Wailord: Nothing over any body of water (so no Cuba) as the flights would be ridiculous, but I wouldn’t be opposed to another Canadian team. Vancouver seems to be the only viable place that I can think of - then again, I’m not Canadian and I know a grand total of three Canadian cities. I don’t feel like going off on another tangent, so I’ll just say I want a team in Vegas. Plx.

Jim: Central America and the Caribbean would be the logical choice, but there are economic issues that would pose problems for a team: they’d still have to play MLB prices for talent, but wouldn’t be able to charge MLB prices for tickets. IIRC, exchange rate differentials were also a problem for the Expos; players get paid in US dollars.

Inside the US, I think soco has a point. Though in terms of TV markets, neither Cincinnati nor Milwaukee are top-30, I believe - maybe we should contract them, thereby also unclogging the NL Central monstrosity. On the other hand, the numbers would predict Florida to be a great market for baseball: the reality proves otherwise.

IHSB: Flights to Cuba aren't much worse than AZ/NY or Seattle/Florida flights... Another idea, aside from Cuba, would be the DR.  Now, I don’t know the economics of the region off-hand, and sure, they’d have to target only Dominicans in free agency.  But put a team in a place like San Pedro De Macoris, and literally everybody who has the money to do so would go watch them.  Probably wouldn’t be a good idea because of the economic climate, but if the economy there improves over the next couple of decades to the point where people would have enough money to go to a game on a regular basis, and it could be an interesting idea.

Instant replay. Where should the lines be, and is the general standard of umpiring good enough?

Azreous: Getting the call right is the ultimate standard, provided that it doesn’t further slow down an already sluggish pace of play. Fair/foul should absolutely be an option. I also don’t mind the idea of a challenge system similar to the NFL. Say, two a game, including just about everything except balls and strikes (even check swings). It seemed to be pretty effective when they tested it at the Little League World Series this year, and in a strange way added a little excitement. Tennis has proved that we have the technology to get most of these things right in a timely fashion; it’s time for baseball to join the 21st century.

IHSB: +1, Chris.

soco: Keep it with home runs, please.

Wailord: I wrote a post on this at some point. In short, I agree with Azreous, and we need expanded use.

Azreous: Good enough? Yes. Although there were some high-profile misses this year, with the Galarraga-Joyce situation obviously at the forefront, umpires do a decent job. Probably better than they’re given credit for. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

soco: Always room for improvement, as any of those umps would likely tell you, but I don’t think there’s an actual problem.  I think people think it is because it gives them something to talk about.

Wailord: It’s good enough, yeah. Ignoring the lack of expanded replay, I think there’s not a massive problem in the actual quality of the umpires. This year just happened to have either more blown calls or simply higher-profile blown calls. I guess what I’m saying is that the umpires shouldn’t be faulted, as they’re doing a respectable job, but the fact they can’t be aided by modern technology is pretty lame.

Jim: I’m in favor of taking the umpires out of proceedings as far as possible - they should not be a factor in the game, and I find the concept that each umpire has their "own" strike zone ridiculous. Replace ‘em all with robots and let the game be decided by the players, not the umpires. The technology is there, the will isn’t.

Kishi: Jim is obviously a fan of Skynet’s most binary pasttime. I feel like about 90% of the umpiring is fine. There’s always going to be problems, and we saw some pretty hard-to-miss examples of that this year, but you can only do so much. I wouldn’t object to more instant replay on certain plays, but really I think my main complaint would be a request for a more regular strike zone. They just make no sense at times.

The All-Star Game will be in Phoenix this year. Would you alter anything about it?

Azreous: There’s one minor switch I would make. DON’T AWARD HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE TO THE WINNING TEAM. (/Skins caps lock) I’m actually okay with the one-player-per-team rule, especially if A) the game goes back to a meaningless exhibition and B) the rosters have room for like 50 people like they seem to these days.

IHSB: The worst thing Bud Selig ever did was make the All-Star Game "count."  Just a completely idiotic, moronic idea.

DbacksSkins: The greatest trick Bud Selig ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. /itslateandI’msickandoncoughsyrup

soco: That’s the worst thing?  I wouldn’t change anything, except maybe making sure I get a couple free tickets, please.

Wailord: Aside from making it meaningless again, I believe they should allow non-season ticket holders to buy tickets right off the bat. I mean, not that I’m biased (ok, in reality, I don’t believe that).

Jim: It either needs to be meaningful or not; at the moment, it occupies a wishy-washy middle ground where it "counts", but is played like a Little League game, with everyone having to get their turn. If there is to be a meaningful reward, then play it like a real contest, without limits on the roster or their use.

Kishi: As already stated: drop the "This time it counts" malarkey. I’d also consider giving the players more input in the roster slots- one article I was reading about the Gold Glove mentioned that this was the only opportunity the players had to recognize other players for what they do, which might explain things like Derek Jeter winning a gold glove while having range that indicated he may have been carrying a glove actually made of solid gold. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it’d probably be a mess with the whole "one player from each team" thing, so who knows.

More generally, if you were commissioner for the day and could make one change to baseball, what would it be?

IHSB: I feel like my response to the previous question makes the answer to this pretty obvious.  :-)

Azreous: Juice boxes and fruit roll-ups.

soco: I wouldn’t want to change anything if I was only a commish for a day.  I’d use my power to get into a World Series game or something.

Wailord: Bring a team to Vegas. ‘Cause it’s totally doable in a day.

Jim: Right now, I’d make teams in cold places play their April schedule on the road. Scheduling Opening Day in somewhere like Denver is insanity. I do like the idea of bringing the sport to the world, so I’d require every team to play one series per year in a non-baseball market.

Kishi: There’d be two Octobers. Take that, Dane Cook! I’d try to institute better drug testing. Which would take longer than a day, I’m sure, unless I could somehow challenge the head of the MLBPA to a duel for the right to institute drug testing. If no duel could be arranged, I’d take Shoeless Joe Jackson off the MLB ineligible list, and push the Hall of Fame to admit him. Then lunch, and some prank calls to David Stern.