With news of contraction and a labor dispute dominating the baseball world, it seems like a good time to talk about baseball’s problems.
There are only two problems with Major League Baseball that really bother me ? revenue disparity and the length of games.
The first of the two is the more difficult problem, but there are solutions.
Baseball needs a real revenue sharing system, not the useless luxury tax it has now. The best and easiest system would be for each team to put half of its local television and radio package into a pool, which would then be divided evenly among all 30 teams. The rich teams would still have more money, they just wouldnt have as much more. I would also like to see baseball teams share their attendance revenue.
Visiting teams get 40 percent of the gate in the NFL. Why can’t baseball do the same?
Even with a worthwhile revenue sharing system, baseball would still have a problem. How do you make sure that each team spends about the same amount on its roster?
A salary cap is not the answer. Baseball does not want to be like the NFL in this regard and force every team to cut some of its best players every year.
A salary floor is a much better alternative. Make every team spend every dime it gets from revenue sharing ? plus some percentage of its own revenue ? on its roster.
George Steinbrenner should use his team’s success to help other teams compete, but he should not be forced to line Carl Pohlad’s pockets with revenue sharing money that never gets used on the Twins.
The other major problem is the length of games. There are three main ways to solve this problem ? call more strikes, reduce the time taken between pitches and sell fewer commercials.
Sandy Alderson and the umpires are working on the first solution, but that is not enough.
Hitters today usually look like Marla Hooch when she was trying to figure out who to take signs from in “A League of Their Own.” This is the only sport where every athlete is allowed to adjust every part of his clothing so that it feels just right before he is asked to do his job.
I remember a Cubs game from the 2000 season when Glenallen Hill was taking his sweet time getting ready. The umpire finally got tired of waiting and told the pitcher to go ahead and throw the ball. A surprised Hill jumped into the batters box and slapped a single into right field, I guess everything doesnt need to fit just so in order to hit a ball.
Maybe if more umpires would stop giving an inch, fewer hitters would take a mile.
The final solution to the length of baseball games is also the least likely to happen. Television stations do not seem to understand that if they sell fewer commercials now, they might make more money later.
It is really quite simple. If you sell fewer commercials, the games will be shorter.
If the games are shorter, more people will watch. If more people watch, you can sell commercials for more money.
Contraction, by the way, does not solve anything. It gets rid of two teams that need revenue help, but does not help out the other teams that cannot compete. It also will not shorten the length of games and it may even lengthen them if baseball needs to add two more roster spots to appease the players’ association.
Obviously, this advice will not be heeded, but it’s nice to think of a world where baseball’s biggest problem is figuring out how to redefine who qualifies as a rookie.
Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.