Patrick McDermott - Getty Images
Baseball's commissioner spoke on a wide range of issues at an annual pre-All-Star news conference. You won't be surprised by his stances.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig spoke to members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in an annual tradition Tuesday morning, the pre-All-Star-Game news conference. Did you know that people in baseball don't want more replay review? According to Bud, that's the truth:
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig reiterated that baseball will not expand instant replay until 2013, and said Tuesday he believes the "appetite for more replay in the sport is very low."
Maybe he said this after a full breakfast, because the appetite among most baseball fans, at the very least, for more replay, is quite high. There's no real need to reiterate all the reasons for replay review, or post more obviously bad calls here. You know the sport needs more review. I know the sport needs more review. Fortunately, we're getting at least some more review in 2013:
We're going to expand it -- when we get all the proper cameras -- to bullets hit down the left- and right-field lines, plus trap plays in the outfield. I have this special committee of 14 people and we've discussed instant replay.
Fourteen people? It shouldn't take more than one or two to decide how this works. "Proper cameras"? Most baseball games are already covered by enough camera angles to make review feasible. I understand they have to set up procedures, but there are enough reasonable proposals out there (extra umpire in the press box, a NHL-style review system at MLB HQ, etc.) to make one work. Selig went on to say he doesn't want to slow the game down, and I'd agree, slow games are an issue -- but is taking a minute or two to get a play right any slower than seeing a manager on the field arguing for that long, or longer?
We're getting there; the only other type of call that needs to be added to this would be safe/out. (I know some would love an electronic strike zone, but I don't see that in the foreseeable future.)
Bud also introduced the possibility of a twist in the DH rule for interleague games:
Selig suggested that teams use a designated hitter in NL parks, and that pitchers should hit in AL parks during interleague games.
David Brown's article mocks this idea, but it might be a good one, especially given the possibility that, under the new schedule that will require year-round interleague play, an AL contending team might have to go into a NL park in September and have its pitchers bat. This idea would eliminate that problem. Brown does say, and I believe correctly:
Truthfully, Major League Baseball should pick a side (the DH side) and stick with it. Ever since interleague play started, the DH variable has been skewing the outcome of games. It's not fair (to either side, but more so to the AL), and it's just wrong. A sport should play by one set of rules.
Speaking of the new schedule, Players Union Executive Director Michael Weiner revealed some details of how the 2013 schedule is going to work at the same meeting at which Selig spoke. Instead of this simple and elegant solution I proposed last month that would have every team playing substantially the same schedule, the union and the owners are trying to shoehorn games in every which way, primarily (it would seem) to preserve this:
The traditional rivalry games will be reduced, going from six to what in most years will be either three or four. The union and the commissioner's office are still discussing whether the traditional rivals (Mets-Yankees, Dodgers-Angels, Cubs-White Sox, etc.) will play three games (all at one site) each year, or whether they'll play four games (with the possibility of two at each site).
It's good, I believe, to reduce the "traditional rival" games, which have gotten a bit stale, particularly in Chicago, where none of the six games came close to selling out this year. At least there's this:
All teams within a division will play nearly the same schedule. It won't be exact, because there will still be some traditional rivalries, and because there will be a few four-game series (where another team plays a three-game series against the same opponent). But it will be close.
Selig also said he stood by the Mitchell Report (not touching that one, sorry) and "This Time It Counts" will continue:
"I don't think it's a disconnect," commissioner Bud Selig says. "Look at the intensity this game's been played with since we went to 'This Time It Counts.' Players stay, players care — we energized the game.
"I hear people say, 'There's a better system.' Well, no there's not. We didn't have a better system."
Of course there's a better system. Give home field in the World Series to the team with the better record, as they do for the Stanley Cup Finals in the NHL and the NBA Finals. Why can't baseball do this? Five years ago, Bud said it was about hotel rooms:
We can't wait until September 30th or October 1st to determine where the World Series is going to be played. You have thousands of hotel rooms to book and a lot of other things and right now we take a chance.
Somehow, the NBA and NHL manage to do this. You'd think MLB could do the same. One day, perhaps, baseball will have a commissioner who isn't stuck in the 1970s.