“At home, they call me ‘Big Al,’ and I hit dingers”
– Alfred Delia
So, I am here watching the Astros beat the struggling Mariners in a Smokey stadium filled with loyal fans who came out to cheer their team – but its the visiting team they came to see. The Astros took 2 of 3 and extended their lead over Seattle leaving them to fend off a very tough rest of the season schedule if they have hopes of playing in the post season. The old saying is “You’re never done till you’re done” but hope of ending longest playoff drought in North American sports is quickly dwindling. I guess I should be used to this roller coaster season rides, but it never seems to get any easier as the years roll on and missed post seasons are the reward waiting the faithful fan at the end of it all.
This week MLB released the 2019 season schedule and it ushers in feelings a lot of fans have at the end of a disappointing season. When next seasons schedule is released they optimistically “Predict” how next season will go, presumably better than how it went this year because they have figured out the missing piece that will be acquired before the squad arrives in spring training. The possibilities are endless, and the couch G.M. mentality kicks in to find the missing pieces to secure that post season run. But while the fan contemplates moves for next season that will help their team, I have been thinking of what things I wish the MLB would implement to next year’s schedule that would make the game better for all fans, in my humblest of opinions. Maybe I have said it before, but I really think the league needs to fix a few issues to make it relevant with the younger generation and apparently no one is listening at MLB headquarters. Recently going over my list of top lists I stumbled upon these suggestions that I feel will fix problems people have mentioned from this year to make next year even better, so here are a few suggestions for you Mr. Commissioner, so turn up the font size on your computer so you can read what needs to be done Mr. Robert D. Manfred Jr, because these suggestions are gold.
- No GAMES IN MARCH!! Seriously though, when Summer’s game must postpone games due to snow you know the start of the season is too early.
- Make the pitcher hit in all leagues but add a 10th Extra hitter spot. It seems that both leagues are entrenched in the way they play the game that it wont likely end soon. I have a compromise that will keep the MLBPA and MLB happy. The American league created the Designated Hitter and many players have seen their careers extend or even take off by being the guy that just hits. Pitchers should hit, that is just how the game should be played, but until the day comes that pitchers can be consistent hitters and not just stand up there hacking away like your drunk uncle trying to show the kids his sick whiffle ball skills, we’ll need a 10th guy to keep the line moving.
- Less games, like 150 is the max, but more meaningful games. The MLB Little League Classic with the little league kids was great. Those players made a connection with those kids who may one day play in the league or will have one hell of a story to tell their kids when they play. That is how the game is passed down and how the love is shared between generations. Maybe more games at military bases or schools around the league or historic ball parks would extend this type of nostalgia and passion that seems to be slowly fading. With less games to play in the regular season it could accommodate travel time and time off for the teams participating in these games and make it easier for players to do fan events.
- New World Series with the last placed teams from each division to prove who wasn’t the worst team in the league. So, the loser of the A.L. West would play the loser of the N.L. West and so on. If you were to limit the number of games played in the regular season, then this tournament would work and would be fun to watch. But it would have to be named something like the Basement Series or Cellar Dweller Derby.
- WWE Entrance type walk up. Watch any wrestling event and the crowd absolutely loses their minds when the music blasts, pyrotechnics ignite, and the talent makes his appearance. Now picture Mike Trout’s name announced as the next batter and BAM!! Music plays, fireworks ignite, and Mike steps up to the plate. Don’t you have the expectation that something great is about to happen? My kids don’t watch WWE but know John Cena’s entrance song, now imagine if players could work with musicians to make their own unique entrance songs (now I can’t get that song out of my head, see how it works). This will happen, I am going to speak it into existence.
- MLB expansion to 32 teams. We need another team in the Pacific Northwest and Portland would be a great location. Division realignment would also bring in new rivalries and deepen the ones already there. Seattle and Portland have long been natural rivals but can only play each other in soccer (and Jr. Hockey WHL go Winterhawks) as Portland does not have an MLB or NFL team and Seattle lost their NBA team a few years ago. I remember growing up on the I-5 Blazers VS Supersonics rivalry. On a side note, Seattle needs an NBA team again!
- This unwritten rule needs to change, or at least be written down so that everyone can be on the same page. If you don’t like that a guy hit a Dinger off ya then maybe next time strike him out not throw a ball at his head. How does throwing at someone keep them in check? Now if they want to brawl then let them throw fisticuffs. That’s more fair to both sides and hey fun to watch for all of us.
- Let teams trade draft picks. Imagine if you could offer a draft pick to next year’s draft to get an established player this season. Rebuilding teams would rebuild faster and contenders will contend in the now making the differenced between large markets, who can afford pricey rentals and small markets that survive by building through the draft, smaller and make the league more competitive all around.
- If making the game more popular and appealing to more fans is the only objective, then lowering the price of tickets and concessions would be the best way to accomplish that. Not all of us have a ton of money to spend on a fun family night but we all deserve the pleasure of watching our team play on our home field. I understand the owners need to make money, I mean how can anyone survive on millions of dollars, but this has been billed as a community team that everyone in the area can get behind and support. So why not let everyone enjoy a game in the ball park?
- Keep the players weekend nickname jerseys and allow them to customize their equipment to support and show personality. If you want robots playing, make a robot baseball league otherwise let the players display their personalities and interests and in return they will be more relatable to the fans. Also, I have trademarked Robot Baseball League so if you really want it… it will cost you, but I am a fair person so let’s make a deal.
Wow you made it all the way through my rant in a list, congrats to you I didn’t think anyone would make it this far. But in all seriousness, I really think that these changes and tweaks listed above will greatly improve the way the game is played and enjoyed by the players and fans. My hope is that someone in the league will read my spot-on assessment of the game and consider how these recommended changes will greatly affect the game in positive ways for many generations to come. Are they being serious about wanting to make the game fun again for everyone, fans and players? I want to believe when they say that they, but they have been saying something like this for years so who knows. Will MLB ever expand? Numerous cities around the country have been hard at work to secure financing for stadiums with the “If you build it they will come” belief that MLB is actively looking to expand soon, the commissioner has even mentioned specific names of cities he would like to see an expansion team located. But will anything happen or is this all talk and no follow through? Something about this sounds too familiar and takes me back to my high school days being told by the cheerleader that we can go out on a date just as soon as her homework was complete. Jokes on you, that was, like B- work at best.
Last thought here, to all my Bay Area transplants that are now here in Portland and are thinking of rooting for the A’s now that the Giants seem out of it, don’t! Don’t you dare do it. If they don’t have enough fan attendance and viewership they are more likely to move to Portland. Don’t you want MLB in your new city? Be happy with the dynasty you have with your NBA team because I’m pretty sure you are all just a few months away from another championship. I can’t wait to see all the Warriors jersey walking around here in a few months, so I ask if you still hold loyalties to your old towns teams then wouldn’t relocating one here will allow us all to find common ground? I love you all, but damn is it hard when we can’t agree on a team, maybe MLB will help heal the divisions. Hit Dingers and Play Ball
P.S. can we give these guys a hell yeah to these geniuses for finding a way to watch the game without paying for a ticket? And probably saved like $40 on those two beers. Cheers to you fellas!