Baseball is and will always be the perfect sport (to me). Major League Baseball, however, is far from perfect. In fact, it’s starting to fall so far behind football and basketball that the folks in MLB headquarters should be very concerned. I was recently in Las Vegas and in the hotel’s sports book, of the 50+ TVs blaring last Sunday, only 3-4 had the only MLB Playoff game on. Everyone in the casino donned NFL jerseys. We live in a country’s whose national pastime can’t survive for long in an economy burdened by overseas commitments and is already losing out to sports that are more international (basketball is the new global sport) and don’t require as much investment (football). To make matters worse, the current MLB commissioner was once a club owner (Milwaukee) himself, and his record for making tough decisions (steroids, instant replay, etc.) simply proves his allegiance to the owners’ interests over the integrity of the game. The NFL and NBA have much stronger commissioners and, surprise, they have much stronger leagues with much brighter prospects for the future.
What can MLB do to preserve its longevity?
- Replace Bud Seelig with a strong, independent commissioner.
- Cap expansion and consider closing 1-2 teams whose markets can’t support baseball, even with revenue sharing.
- Try something like Italy’s soccer league with a Serie A and Serie B teams, to keep things interesting.
- Reduce schedule drastically from 162 games to much, much less.
- Encourage teams playing 3- or 5-game series per week, with off-days every Monday and Tuesday. Teams earn points for winning series by either 1, 2, or 3.
- Reducing the number of games & incentives for series play simultaneously deemphasizes the ridiculous obsession with individual statistics, which undermines the game in the long-run.
- Increase the post-season rounds and give team w/ best record in each division a bye.
In the future, perhaps one day. Baseball traditions die hard. But in the long run, the game as it currently stands needs drastic changes in order to survive in the shadows of football and basketball. And, I write this as a huge baseball fan.