I usually try to stick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Branded, but I’ll dabble with some other areas at times.
This is one of those times.
Baseball might be killing it from a revenue standpoint, but from a fans perspective, it’s in dire straits. It’s time to update and upgrade this sport from top to bottom.
Everyone has an opinion on changes they think would make the game better. I think we can all agree that most ideas are awful, but I also think we can all agree that change is desperately needed.
So, I decided to put together six simple changes that I believe would drastically improve the game.
Think of this as an idiots guide for how to fix baseball.
1. Cut 30 Games
This may seem drastic, and baseball purists will probably be against it, but cutting games would cause a ripple effect on improving the sport.
162 games is ENTIRELY TOO LONG!!!!!!
Here are the pros…
- Every game would mean more.
The game would be a lot better with less room for error. Players would give more of an effort on a game-to-game basis.
Fans would be more invested. Which means more people would be coming to the ballpark, buying merchandise, and tuning in.
- Starting pitchers could last longer in games which could lead to speeding up the game.
Less games, less innings, less pitching changes. Simple.
- Less wear and tear on players.
In the 90’s it was easy for players to play 162. They were all on juice. Recently, injuries have hurt the game almost as much as the pace of play. People want to see the star players on the field.
Less games would leave more time for days off to recover, and less time for injuries.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 17, 2018
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) April 17, 2018
There is only one (major) con…. MONEY.
Less games would lower salaries for players and owners would lose revenue.
Baseball’s revenue was at an all time high of 10.3 billion for 2018. So you wouldn’t think owners or the commish would be in any hurry to cut games.
…..hold that thought.
“But that report about record revenues is also problematic for a few reasons: (1) it comes as attendance is declining; (2) it comes as player salaries are falling, both in absolute terms and, more notably, as a share of revenues; and (3) it comes as a startling number of teams seem to have very little interest in improving themselves or winning baseball games in the near or even the mid term.
Major League Baseball is making money hand over fist these days, it’s true, but it does not strike me that it’s doing so in a sustainable fashion. The league increasingly relies on sources of income that have little or no connection to clubs putting entertaining and competitive baseball teams on the field and, in some cases, have no connection to the playing of actual baseball games at all. While those incentives are working for MLB at the moment, they could go away more quickly than the powers that be might think. If that happens — and if major league clubs continue to see fielding winning and entertaining teams as an unnecessary component of their mission statement — the game could find itself in serious trouble.” – Craig Calcaterra
Translation: the product sucks, and if it continues to suck people will continue to stop watching.
Look at last years World Series ratings for example. They were down considerably.
World Series Ratings Fall 23 Percent From 2017 https://t.co/utDqIfZPzX
— Variety (@Variety) October 29, 2018
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says that he, too, is a bit frustrated/bewildered about current World Series ratings. Despite west coast/east matchup w two glamour teams, G1-2 ratings off ~10% & lowest since SF/KC in '14. "We're looking hard at it and haven't isolated a cause."
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBG) October 26, 2018
But again, if the product continues to take steps back, how long can that last?
With less games…..
- Salaries would be lower in general
- Less wasted money on marginal players … like middle relievers for example.
- Games would mean more, and in turn be more competitive. So ratings would go up.
- If games are more competitive, more people would come to the ballpark on a nightly basis, which would lead to the same amount of (or more) ticket and merchandise sales. Plus, their would be less supply and ideally more demand for tickets.
The local revenue and die hard fans will always be there. If baseball became more appealing from a national perspective and brought in more casual fans, wouldn’t they be making even more money?
Remember, I’m just and idiot fan who doesn’t care about the owners pockets. I just want a better product and people to care about a sport I love. Cutting some games seems like a smart place to start.
2. Tear up the CBA. Put in a salary cap, a floor, and a rookie scale.
Clearly the CBA isn’t working. I’m not smart enough to know how to exactly fix it, but it needs a complete overhaul.
Adam Wainwright says MLB players could strike. Here's why. https://t.co/TQCVz8CHU8
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) February 16, 2019
“Players’ eyes don’t deceive them, and nor do fans’. As Players report to spring training and see respected veterans and valued teammates on the sidelines, they are rightfully frustrated by a two-year attack on free agency,” Union head Tony Clark says. pic.twitter.com/sDzyS2Gvzy
— Jose de Jesus Ortiz (@OrtizKicks) February 18, 2019
Mike Trout on slow free agent market: ‘Everybody sees it. It’s obviously not good for baseball. It’s disappointing for the players.’
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 18, 2019
Just another reason you lose the likes of Kyler Murray. Things need to change. https://t.co/m90je6KXye
— Vernon Wells (@VernonWells10) February 15, 2019
Trevor Bauer says Cleveland Indians used ‘character assassination’ in arbitration case https://t.co/mMRjy5w7xQ
— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) February 14, 2019
Pat Neshek on free agents still being out there pic.twitter.com/0cWSGwsjJP
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) February 13, 2019
The players and owners will get their money regardless. It’s the fans who are being held hostage with these players not signing and young stars being hoarded in the minor leagues.
I personally think the players are way over paid, especially the marginal players/middle relievers. When Pat Neshek is making 7.75 and Jason Kelce is making 7.2, something is clearly out of whack.
Some elementary basics would be to add a rookie wage-scale, a salary cap, and a floor. This would be drastic, but it may be necessary.
3. Limit shifts and pitching changes.
You can’t take away all the strategy in baseball, but something needs to change in order to make the game quicker and more action-packed. The shift and number of pitching changes have been at the forefront of the discussion, so I’ll throw an idea out there.
I would limit defenses to one infield shift per inning. This would actually make more sense in terms of strategy, and would add intrigue.
As far as pitching changes, I’m not exactly sure how to limit it. But my idea is you have five per 9 innings. If a game goes to extra innings you get an additional two.
This is just a rough draft, I’m open for suggestions here. The point is, make some changes.
4. Make the start of the season a big deal
This is as basic and elementary as it gets, yet baseball can’t seem to figure it out.
No one knows or cares when baseball is kicking off its season!!!! A random Monday when the NCAA tournament is still going on is just dumb. The NFL makes an extravaganza out of their opening night. Why can’t baseball do the same?
With less games, the season can start a few weeks later. In this case it might actually feel like baseball weather instead of the middle of winter.
Have the World Series rematch kick-off the season, and make it a BIG DEAL. Simple stuff. Also, promote your stars while you’re at it.
5. The Trade deadline is the deadline.
This waiver period needs to end. You can have a “buyout” market like the NBA, but the waiver period is just an extended trade deadline. It’s stupid.
6. A new playoff bracket
Why is there a one game playoff for a sport that has series play all season long? That couldn’t be any dumber. But since there are less games, there would be time for more playoff teams.
Here’s my plan…
-Six teams in each league make the playoffs.
-Three wild card teams
-The top two division winners in each league get a wild card round bye.
Wild card round: A 3 game series at the team with the better records ballpark. This way the better team is rewarded. Have the games three days in a row, just like the regular season.
Example from 2018..
Byes: (1) Red Sox, (2) Astros
(3) Indians vs (6) Rays (missed playoffs with 90 wins)
(4) Yankees vs (5) A’s (played in a 1 game playoff, A’s had 97 wins and Yankees had 100)
Byes: (1) Brewers, (2) Dodgers
(3) Braves vs (6) Cardinals (missed playoffs with 88 wins)
(4) Cubs vs (5) Rockies (played in a 1 game series both had 90 + wins)
Divisional round: 5 game series, start alternating ball parks
Championship round: 7 game series
World Series: 7 game series
This would keep fan interest for much longer leading to more people showing up to the ballpark, tuning in, buying merchandise.. etc.
This would also give much more incentive for teams to actually try to compete.
Tony Clark, head of the MLBPA, says it's frustrating to see clubs "making little effort to improve their rosters, compete for a championship or justify the price of a ticket."https://t.co/RC4wUDBV8b
— 97.1 The Ticket (@971theticketxyt) February 18, 2019
Owners would be more inclined to add free agents, bring up young stars, and make moves at the trade deadline. All of which make the sport more intriguing.
These are my six best ideas. I’m just an idiot fan who loves baseball and doesn’t want to see it fade away into the abyss. I’m sure there are people out there who are much smarter than me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Maybe the guys from the “Crowding the plate” pod can make some sense of this! Tweet us @Branded_Sports and @B_McGlock.