Mar 19

Changes That Could Improve Baseball

The NFL is contemplating a rule where running backs can’t duck their heads when outside the tackle box. Like the rule or not, unlike baseball, football is proactive when it comes to rule changes and adjustments in the game.

It isn’t as if Major League Baseball has to appeal to the Supreme Court for changes. Some could be negotiated through the Collective Bargaining Agreement, where others are common sense.

So, with the Mets off today, let’s look into the following changes that could be made to improve the quality of play:

INSTANT REPLAY: Expansion is being considered and rightly so. If they have replay, do it right. Nobody expects it on balls and strikes, although the TV pitch tracker box shows a lot of mistakes. Unlike football and basketball, where action occurs all over the field, much of baseball’s action happens at fixed locations, such as the bases, foul lines and outfield wall. Cameras can easily be focused on those key spots. There are out-safe calls on the bases, as well as fair and foul, that could be overturned with a minimum of time. It would take a fifth umpire located in the press box with monitors. Should take no more than a couple of minutes to get it right, and MLB has the money for the extra umpire.

THE UMPIRES: There is an adversarial relationship between players/managers and umpires. Too many umpires have a short fuse and eject at the slightest debate. So, put a microphone on them they can’t control to record arguments. Not only will it show umpires sometimes being in the wrong, but it also can be taped and sold for extra marketing bucks. Who wouldn’t want a DVD of greatest umpire-manager fights?

SCHEDULING: The scheduling is a mess that creates problems. For example, why are the San Diego Padres opening the season at Citi Field? The weather is ugly in April, so the first month should be mostly within the division so games can be made up easier. If the Padres-Mets game is bagged, it will be hard searching for a make-up date. Why put the Padres, or any team, in position of crossing three time zones to make up a game? Just makes no sense.

THE GETAWAY GAME: The last game in any series, if not followed by an off day, should be in the afternoon. As it is, teams don’t get into the next city until 3 or 4 in the morning, and players are exhausted for the next game. Players can be seen in the clubhouse before the first game of a series guzzling coffee and Red Bull. The quality of play suffers when the players are tired, so why not put them in the best position to succeed? Alert players give the fans a better product. Also, it provides teams at least another couple of day games in a month and what’s not to like about day baseball?

THE DAY-NIGHT DOUBLEHEADER: If MLB insists on interleague play and the unbalanced schedule, there will continue to be 19 games a year against teams in the division. Familiarity does breed contempt, so perhaps this contributes to an attendance fall off at the end of a season. If a day-night doubleheader were scheduled once or twice a month (at home and the road), it would clear 12 days, which could be used for extra off-days and make-up games. I’ve spoken to many players who would rather have the doubleheader if it meant another off day. This format could schedule shorten the season by up to a week and start the playoffs earlier. Anything to alleviate November baseball. I know they’ll never go for the traditional doubleheader because of not wanting to give up the gate, but this is feasible.

BODY ARMOR: This padding on the elbow has to go. If you’re protecting an injury, fine, but players are taking advantage of the padding and therefore don’t fear the inside pitch. Not fair. Barry Bonds spend the last four or five years of his career not having to worry about being plunked.

PITCHER SHIELD: Can’t a light helmet with a face shield for pitchers be designed to protect them from line drives to the head and face? They made helmets mandatory for base coaches after a coach was killed after being struck in the head. Does somebody else have to be seriously injured or killed before something is done?

SUSPENSIONS: When a player is suspended for throwing at a hitter or using a corked bat, his penalty should come against the team he was playing against at the time. Just seems a fairer way. And, why does the player usually have to wait until the next time his team plays in New York before an appeal? There’s teleconferencing and conference calls, so what’s the big deal?

There are countless of other possible changes, but these are a few that have been rattling in my mind. I’d like to hear if you have others.

 

Dec 25

Merry Christmas; R.I.P. Jack Klugman

I woke up this morning all set to write you a Christmas and holiday wish, but as it always does, life intruded with the sad news of Jack Klugman’s passing last night in Los Angeles. I hope you’ll spend a moment and read one of his many obit’s on the Internet.

One of my favorite programs growing up was “The Odd Couple,” and a dream was to be a sportswriter in New York. I started writing prep sports for the local paper when I was in high school and my nickname was Oscar. In part, because of the sportswriting and also in part because I was voted “messiest locker.”

I loved that show and several years ago was given a DVD set for Christmas. I didn’t watch “Quincy,” because he was always Oscar to me, but I appreciated the depth of his talents when I caught him in “Twelve Angry Men,” and several episodes of “The Twilight Zone.” I especially remember the one in which he was a pool shark.

It was a sad good morning to read about his passing, but it does tie in to my “It’s A Wonderful Life” post. Klugman was 90, and his son said he had a full and meaningful life. Part of his life, one he never knew, was his influence on a young kid growing up in Ohio who wanted to be a sportswriter.

I miss him already.

I hope you all enjoy today with your families and have a very Merry Christmas and celebrate today with your own traditions. My best wishes to you all.

JD

 

 

 

 

Dec 19

Loose threads ….

What's on your mind?

What's on your mind?

I’ve done “Loose Threads,” several times. It’s a catch-all post where I invite you to say what ever is on your mind. I mean, there’s got to be more to life than the Mets, especially with nothing going on.

I’ll start.

Sitting at home tonight waiting for the Great Blizzard of 2009. So far, not a flake. Very cold, no snow. No sense going out to the movies, so I’ll stay in tonight and put Casablanca in the DVD player. My favorite movie. I’m watching it again because I don’t get the NFL Network and can’t watch the undefeated Saints. With most of the mid-Atlantic snowbound, it would have been a nice Christmas present.

I’ve never been a fan of the vanity networks. The NFL, in particular, has milked billions from the networks, and by extension the public. Does it really need a network of its own? I’m just waiting for the day when the NFL will put its playoff games on its own network. It has to be coming soon.

Well, that’s on my mind right now. If you want to comment on it, feel free. If you want to comment on the something about the Mets that hasn’t been mentioned, go there. Football? Fine. The Knicks or Celtics? Sure.

Politics? I wish you wouldn’t for obvious reasons.

I like the idea of giving you guys a forum. I just haven’t figured out the best way to do it when it’s not about the Mets.

I’ll have something for you in the morning, and later tonight if the Mets do something.