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An Immodest Proposal

Both sides of the baseball labour dispute should probably keep me well and truly far from the negotiating tables.

It is surely a sign of troublesome and trying times when we, the ignored or forgotten dregs of society are no longer enough to feed the appetites of the glorious elite of Major League Baseball. Due to the continued global ravages of the trouble from southeast China, the overlords of the game are now crying poor, unable to finance the expansion of their landlord interests in aggressive enough fashion to further push the local unwashed and unclean citizenry out. In an attempt to sate this appetite, MLB has decided to eat itself - a drastic and wholly unnecessary measure that, with just a bit of creative thought could be avoided. However, in fairness to the powers that be, self-consumption can be well, all-consuming, leaving no little grey cells with the time or resources for devising creative alternatives. Though recently reformed away from the U.S. religion of Major League Baseball (over the course of the last 24 moths), I would be lying to myself and others if I made the claim that these troubles befalling that no-longer-hallowed National Pastime did not instill within me an anxietal discomfort, the likes of which has me spending more than the appropriate amount of time with Messrs. Jameson, Walker, and Bailey. Though I know longer worship fervently at the altar of Doubleday nor do I still make offerings to Saints Cobb, Ruth, Young, Williams, Mays, or Aaron, I will never be fully extricated from that institution. As such, I retain a vested interest in seeing a peaceable curtailing of the insatiable greed which threatens to devour the sport. To that end, I extend the following immodest proposal.

First off, that the pie of consumption may be increased in size, expand the league to 32 teams, putting 16 franchises in each, the National and American Leagues. Such expansion would preferably include teams in those nations of North America not part of the United States. An even number of teams in each league the necessary mathematical result, eliminate interleague play from the normal season, save for one week of the season, where established “interleague rivals” will play home-and-home (preferably two games in each venue). Ideally, this would be the final week leading into the All-Star break. Should such a schedule be too onerous for the computers of MLB to arrange, then elimination of interleague entirely should be the default. If however, those interleague games are retained, then it should be that the rules for each league be swapped with the visiting team’s native rules being those by which the contests are decided.

The game is better off without the implementation of a hitter without position. Elimination of such an abomination would server to alter both the offensive and defensive dynamics of the game. To ameliorate the resultant suffering of the players, the rosters should be expanded to 27 slots. With such expansion, teams should still be limited to a number not to exceed 13, the maximum number of pitchers to be found on the roster.

Start not, the season until the first Friday following the conclusion of the month of insanity. In that way, the excitement and attention given to the opening week of the sport are not lost to the Madness.

The playoff season of the sport should exist at 12 teams, with the top two seeds in each league being granted a bye for the first round, which should be set as a three-game series. The next round should then be five games, then seven games should be used to determine the league champions to participate in the World Series. The team with the superior regular season record plays first host to the World Series. In the event the two teams have identical records, the league with the better record from interleague play shall act as first host. Should this still prove insufficient to separate the teams, the team with the better run differential will be the first host.

Why have rules if they will not be enforced? The Gentlemen in Blue are clearly not observing for strikes and balls or the proper application of leather to runner. Since they are already on the field as some sort of authority for the league and are not already busy with other pursuits, have them enforce rules. Batters who do not swing at a pitch shall see the count increased by one strike if they step out of the batter’s box. Likewise, a pitcher should deliver the ball to the plate no more than 15 seconds after the previous pitch, unless there is are existing base runners. In such cases, the pitcher may take as long as 20 seconds to deliver the pitch.

All existing ballparks should set back their outfield fences a minimum of ten feet, with certain allowances made for the brick in Wrigley and the Green Monster in Boston, two icons of the sport, neither of which can be said to have ever increased the rate at which balls leave the yard. Furthermore, all newly constructed or renovated fields shall have a distance of no less than 330 feet from home to pole, with a wall no less than 10 feet in height.

Never again should fans of the sport be subjected to seeing something like the Mighty Quinn. Games should be played until there is a victor, enhancing the game’s status as a marathon, not a sprint. Taxed rosters and roster depth are an intriguing part of the game which separate winners and losers.

On the subject of taxed rosters, no player shall be eligible to be sent back to the minors in excess of three times in a single season without his prior consent. Furthermore, any player removed from the roster for reasons other than joining the company of the invalid, cannot be replaced on the roster by another player for a period of no less than 24 hours.

Some things just work they way they are. Entities of limited creative thought should be seeking to maintain a system of limited complications. Leave the First-Year Player Draft alone, save that it should be moved to begin on the first Monday following the conclusion of the College World Series. It should also be 20 rounds, with the first day of the draft being a televised celebration of the first five rounds.

No longer should smaller teams lose out on the opportunity to sign franchise players from outside the United States. An international draft with a similar structure to that of the First -year Player Draft should be established. Players poached from other top-tier leagues such as the NPB and KBO would still remain free from being subject to the international draft process.

To eliminate calendrical influence on player assignation, one day of time on the Major League roster before the date of September expansion will serve as a season of service. With such an implementation, the elimination of the “super-two” status should follow.

Teams shall not be penalized for aggressively pursuing top free agents from other clubs. A team seeking to retain the services of its premium talent should have the option of extending a qualifying offer. If the offer is turned down and the player signs elsewhere for more money, then the team will be compensated a draft pick in the supplemental first round of the next draft. As there will be no penalties associated for signing a player granted a qualifying offer, players will no longer hold a limit of only one such offer being made in the course of their careers.

A tax should be levied against teams which employ payrolls over a certain threshold in order to help promote parity. This tax should be dollar for dollar for the first year over the threshold. A second offense should come with the additional forfeiture of all picks in the first round (including supplement) of both the first-year and international drafts. A third offense should extend to include the second round, and so forth. This threshold should however, be a generous one, such that when the residents of the Bronx get an itch, they are able to spend frivolously. The specific threshold should be determined by a formula to be determined by total MLB-generated revenues and should increase each season with the rate of inflation. The specifics of this can be best sorted by the counters of beans.

So too, should a more sensible minimum salary be installed. Grant then a salary of $1 million to players in their first season of play. Also, create living wages for the players in lower levels of play, with an escalating pay tier that stretches from Rookie League to the Majors.

In these enlightened times, it is important to acknowledge the fears of those around us, even those of great means and power. Thus, MLB’s November-phobia should indeed be respected. Even with the later start to the season, expanded playoffs, and nearly a week off for the Midsummer Classic, there still remains enough time on the calendar for teams to play a 154-game season by the end of 30 September. This amounts to 150 games against the other 15 teams in their league and four games of interleague play. This leaves the entirety of October for the expanded playoffs to shake out, and prevents games moving into November. Thus, shorten the season back to 154 games.

Adopting these guidelines would serve to accomplish many goals for all sides involved, even those without a voice at the negotiating table. The problem, alas, is this immodest proposal seeks to address complaints from all sides. It does not allow for one side to ruthlessly break the other, proceeding then to grind the loser into dust. As such, I fear I have wasted my less than considerable efforts in this digital space.


February 2022
Winslow, AZ