Were Commissioner of Baseball, you know what I'd do?
1) Abolish all drug testing. This is not a joke. I'm dead serious. I want to see Gonzo baseball!
Forget the speed of Aroldis Chapman's 105 MPH fastball. I want to see Aroldis Chapman throwing his fastball, while ON speed. How many bases can Michael Bourn steal after a fistful of downers? Will Dock Ellis' record for LSD-influenced no-hitters ever be broken?
Think Albert Pujols is so great now? What about Albert Pujols all hopped-up on Anabolic steroids, Novocaine, NyQuil, Darvocet, Xanax, horse tranquilizers, and crack cocaine? If Barry Bonds can hit 73 HRs on "The Cream" & "The Clear," Pujols on the gas CAN BREAK THAT RECORD BY THE ALL-STAR GAME!
Besides, we all know drug testing is a joke and will always be one-step behind the cheaters. So, why not make it all out-in-the-open and legalize it? The players aren't stupid enough to NOT know the long-term health risks. They know who Taylor Hooton, Lyle Alzado, and Chris Benoit were. And if you had the chance to win a World Series ring in exchange for dying five years earlier than you otherwise would, you'd do it, too. (Don't lie, you would.)
2) Expand the American League to 16 teams. The A.L. can use some extra teams out west. So to the good people of Vancouver, B.C. and Monterrey, Mexico; if you've got a deep-pocketed billionaire with a large ego, and elected officials with even larger egos who love spending hundreds of millions of other-people's tax dollars on "community redevelopment" projects that never seem to get past Stage One (I'm looking at you, St. Louis and your "Ballpark Village"), you too can have Major League Baseball!
3) And when the A.L. expands to 16 teams, we can finally get rid of the damn Wild Card by realigning both Leagues into four, four-team divisions.
A.L. North: Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit
A.L. South: Tampa Bay, Texas, Kansas City, Mexico
A.L. East: New York, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore
A.L. West: Seattle, Vancouver, Oakland, Anaheim
N.L. North: Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, Colorado
N.L. South: Atlanta, Florida, Houston, St. Louis
N.L. East: New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh
N.L. West: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona
4) Interleague Play: Purists hate it, but fuck 'em. If "The Purists" had their way, Ryan Howard would be playing first base for Kansas City -- the Kansas City Monarchs, that is.
Here's what I propose for Interleague Play 2.0. Do what the NFL does, and have all four teams in each American League division play a three-game series with all four teams in an opposite National League division every year. Rotate the divisions every year, so that each team plays a three-game series against all the other teams in the opposite league once every fourth year, and a three-game away series every eighth year.
Now, take each A.L. team and pair them with an N.L. "geographical rival" and have them play six-times a year. In a way, this is already happening (i.e. Yankees & Mets; Indians & Reds; Giants & A's et al). But some teams do not have a natural rival (i.e. Arizona, Colorado, Detroit, Toronto and others.)
Here's a list of existing Interleague rivalries who already play a home-and-home each year.
You can add to that, these two new pairings who should be playing six-times a year.
And here's some "New Rivalries" that'll be created by expansion.
Wouldn't an annual Arizona-Mexico series would be, like, totally AWESOME! Maybe they can play for "The Joe Arpaio Cup?" Colorado-Vancouver would give all the dirty hippies in Boulder (and believe me, Boulder has a LOT of hippies) an excuse to stock-up on B.C. Bud -- you know, the "good" stuff.
As for Atlanta-Toronto? Fuck Atlanta and Fuck Toronto.
Nobody in Atlanta gives a shit about the Braves, because no one in Atlanta is FROM Atlanta. The Braves are just a summertime diversion until college football season starts anyway. Toronto can suck a racehorse's cock with Heinz tomato ketchup for 1993. Atlanta and Toronto are two cities that were just made to play six meaningless Interleague games a year.
5) In fact, we should just kick the Braves & Blue Jays out of the Majors altogether and go to two, 15-team Leagues divided up into six, five-team Divisions with Interleague play every week!
6) Change the revenue sharing formula by giving small-market teams a financial incentive to win. 2010 will be the 18th consecutive losing season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. How did this happen? Two words: Revenue sharing.
Imagine, if you will, you are the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Every year, in addition to the shared-revenues that all 30 teams get (i.e. TV rights, licensing from the sale of baseball cards, et al), you also get a no-strings attached "revenue sharing" check. This second check comes from "big market" teams (i.e. the Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies) who all have massive local radio and TV contracts, and more lucrative stadium deals ($2500/seat tickets). The less revenues you generate on your own, the more "welfare" you get from the other owners.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that under this system there's no incentive for the Pirates to improve their on-field product. The more they lose, the less revenue they generate on their own, and the greater their "welfare check." Why do you think they keep trading away their best players? The Pirates have become the L.A. Clippers of baseball; a joke.
So, as Commissioner, I'd share those revenues a little differently. The system I advocate would base shared revenues on on-field performance. It's a system that the English Premiere League already has in place, and it rewards those clubs (even the "small-market" ones) who actually put an effort into winning.
Here's how it works: The EPL receives a massive amount of shared-revenues (mostly from the lucrative TV contracts from Rupert Murdoch). Each one of the 20 clubs gets a share of this money; BUT, bonus moneys are paid BASED ON PERFORMANCE.
For example, in the 2007-08 EPL Season, Derby County, which finished last, still took home £29.1m. Manchester United, who won the Premeire League that season, got almost double that (£49.3m). Blackburn Rovers, who play in one of the smallest "markets," (Population of Greater Blackburn: 137,470) finished a respectable seventh in the table that year and cashed a check for £40.2m.
Now if you're a Tampa Bay Rays fan, you should be beating down the doors of Bud Selig's office with pitchforks and torches and demanding such a system be established in MLB. If such a system existed, the Rays might have enough money to keep BOTH Carlos Pena AND Carl Crawford after this season.
All of which dovetails into...
7) The establishment of a "Salary Floor." Just as there are in the other major American sports leagues, a salary cap that guarantees both the players and owners a certain percentage of revenues, there must be a "floor" that guarantees that each team will spend a set amount of money on player salaries.
8) An annual independent financial audit of all 32 MLB teams. If you've read "The Deadspin Papers," you know how the Marlins just raped the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County to the tune of $2.4 billion for a taxpayer subsidized stadium currently being built on the site of the (now demolished) Orange Bowl. This despite the fact that the Marlins turned a $37.8 million profit. So, as a gesture of goodwill towards fans and taxpayers, all 32 MLB teams should submit to an audit.
9) A weekly, half-hour, baseball collectibles show on MLB Network. You've got a 24-hour-a-day TV channel at your disposal, and you need cheap programming during those times when there aren't any games on. So why not a 30 minute weekly show on The Hobby? THIS IS SUCH A NO-BRAINER! You can even let Michael Eisner produce it -- I heard he has some experience in the TV business. Want to "Get kids into The Hobby?" Make it a cartoon and call it "Bazooka Joe and His Cardboard Posse," and air it on Saturday Mornings.
Baseball cards + MLB Network = RATINGS GOLD!