Problems That MLB Chooses to Ignore or Bury

 

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MLB – or “Baseball” – if you prefer – seems to have a knack for both creating and then ignoring problems that – over time – tend to splinter the game and become more resistant to anything resembling an easy correction.

Our Pecan Park Eagle list is not presumptuously the complete whole thought in this matter, nor are we suggesting that “solving” any of these identified issues will get baseball off the hook that most ignored changes over time are too late to eliminate all the harm that’s already been done.

We welcome your help in the proposal of any changes that may help resolve any or all of these problems – or shed more light on the expressions of others we’ve missed here. And please – please, please, please – feel free to restate any of these issues in ways that make more sense to you as you also bear in mind: We fans are not burdened personally with the conflict of interest problems that continuously haunt the public messages of everyone from the Commissioner’s Office to Club Ownership and Management and the MLB Players’ Association.

What follows here is our list of the most condensed statements we choose to make about problems that go on unattended in ways we think are made even more harmful by baseball’s inability to show any awareness that any change is actually needed in any of these areas.

A  Few of Baseball’s Worst Openly Rotting or Shallow Grave Buried Issues

  1. The Designated Hitter in the American League. After 40 plus years, MLB has become two similar, but very different games because of the DH usage in the AL, but not in the NL.  Each version has its powerful support now and it is unlikely that either league would peacefully agree to any solution that resulted in an all-DH – or a complete no-DH – version of baseball. Do we really have any choice but to live with the Frankenstein Monster like two-version sports that have resulted from the early 1970’s trial of the DH in the AL that never went away – but never firmly decided which version of the game would be used in both major leagues?
  2. The HGH Shadow Barring Several Accomplishment-Deserving Players from the Hall of Fame. In 1998, sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made the cover of Time Magazine as the “Saviors of Baseball” for drawing fans back to the game after the management-labor problems of 1994 took a good shot at driving fans away for good by bringing about a late season cancellation of the balance of the season and the World Series for that year. – Are we fans still supposed to believe that no one from that time period suspected anything beyond divine intervention for the sudden incredible jump in the powers of each man to hit home runs in numbers and distance never heretofore seen? And was the internal cost and transparency too high a price for those who run the game to own the real reason that these two players, and many others, were left to hang as “guilty” in the court of public opinion to hang and die at the hands of the sanctimonious American Baseball Writers Association when it came time to consider or disregard HOF induction in the shadow of HGH association with each in this matter? The current flow of things is not unusual for baseball in this area. – Baseball seems determined to hang with doing nothing until the issue either resolves itself on an unlikely case-by-case basis or simply is forgotten and goes away. Meanwhile, we fans are expected to continue supporting a HOF induction process that ignores, as examples, the man with 73 HR, the most home runs per season, and 762 HR, the most career home runs in the history of the game – and also a pitcher who won 354 games and 7 Cy Young Awards. Any fair resolution of this particular “state of denial” begs the question: Shouldn’t the culture of baseball that allowed this horrendous consequence to happen also hold those in charge of the game to have been responsible for tacitly looking the other way – at first – with some even going so far as to temporarily glorify some of the very players they would later crucify as the villains of the game?
  3. Finding the Best Balance Between Management and Labor. Prior to the abolition of the reserve clause, only the greatest of the great players had any leverage over the salaries their teams paid them. Everyone else was pretty much a resident of the salve labor camp. As an average or untried players, you could either take the minimal pay that was offered or leave the game. Your last team got to hold on to their exclusive rights to you, even if you declined their salary offer. Management controlled everything. The players controlled only the decision to play or not to play on the terms offered by their team. Today, with all of the changes that have evolved over the past forty something years, the pendulum has swung way back to the players’ side of things with an establishment of a strong union, The Players’ Union has negotiated veto power over a number of items that once belonged to the clubs alone – and they have also obtained health care and other benefits that were never present during the old days. The problem has been the rising cost of player salaries and the driving effect it’s had upon operations and ticket prices. In spite of the “luxury tax”  program that’s designed to theoretically keep wealthy teams from controlling the player market, it doesn’t seem to be working. We need something to bring about a better power balance between clubs and players. Much too complex to discuss further here, I’ll put it this way: Baseball needs a labor/management deal that keeps salaries inside the “sanity” side of the word “insanity.” I still have trouble with the idea that each club has bench reserve players that make seven or eight times as much per year as Babe Ruth did in his greatest salary season. – It isn’t all due to inflation!
  4. Allowing the All Star Game to Determine Home Field Advantage in the World Series. “Selig’s Silliest Solution” is not to be confused with “Selig’s Most Insidious Solution” – and that was the 2013 condition that the former Baseball Commissioner placed upon the sale of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane and his group. To gain Commissioner Selig’s essential approval of the sale, all Houston interests had to pre-approve the transfer of the Houston franchise from the National League to the American League. His “Silliest Solution happened after the 2002 All Star Game in Selig’s native Milwaukee ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings when neither manager ended up with pitchers they could continue to use in extra innings. Irony of ironies time struck hard. – It was because nobody was taking the game seriously that both managers using all the pitchers earlier in a way that resulted in no remaining arms being left to finish a serious game beyond the 11 innings already played. Selig, on the other hand, saw the problem as one that could only be resolved by making the All Star Game more relevant to baseball’s goal of “winning”, and, as a result, Selig proclaimed, henceforth from 2003 forward, that the All Star Game would determine which league had the home field advantage in the World Series of that same season. Now it doesn’t matter if your club wins a league pennant with 100 plus wins or more while the other league pennant got their flag with a little luck and 89 wins on the season. The lesser winner’s luck is now further enhanced by the fact that Selig’s stupidity has now helped them even further by his new All Star Game winner rule. Players that now mostly have nothing to do with winning or losing the pennant for either qualifying World Series team are going to settle that matter for them in the All Star Game.  – This needs to be stopped in the name of cause and effect sensibility. The only fair ways to settle home field advantage in the World Series are to (1) give it to the club with the best winning season record that includes a back up stat solution for tie-breaker years; or (2) simply alternate it annually between leagues as we once did back in the time prior to the “B.S.” days.
  5. The Cost of a Good Baseball Game Ticket. Unless baseball comes up with some better answers to the first four items on this short list, the only fair summary for this subject manner can be answered with a now familiar question – “What’s in your wallet?”

 

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

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9 Responses to “Problems That MLB Chooses to Ignore or Bury”

  1. bhick6 Says:

    Bill – I think #4 was handled by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and incorporated your favored solution, i.e. the home field advantage will go to the team with the best winning percentage during the regular season. I don’t remember hearing anything about a tie-breaker, however.

    Bill Hickman

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      bhick6 – Thanks for the advisory. I wasn’t aware of that action. Am I just a narrow source reader – or did MLB understandably simply take this action with as little fanfare as possible?

  2. Larry Dierker Says:

    How about taking untold $$$$ from FanDuel and Draft Kings while continuing to exclude Pete Rose from the HOF ballot.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Dierk – You nailed the biggest buried issue of them all. Supporters of his ban like to say it’s there because he bet on baseball, but I’ve always thought that it was more tied to the way he denied responsibility for his actions in the twenty year wake that followed Bart Giamatti’s death and the disingenuous way he handled it when he finally realized that speaking up was his only chance for HOF induction. We’ll never know, but I also doubt that leaving Pete Rose hanging in the wind with no obvious recourse for redemption was what Commissioner Giamatti had in mind for the producer of the most hits in baseball history when he suddenly died soon after Rose accepted what he thought would be a “temporary” ban, pending further study of the permanent consequences that should be put in place. From there, our supportive evidence that Giamatti even thought this way is unavailable. For things to ever change for Pete Rose in his lifetime now, it’s going to take more time and a larger perspective mind in the Commissioner’s office than we’ve had since Giamatti died. And that perspective centers upon a commissioner’s willingness to make an decisive decision, either way, when there still seems to be a way to keep on avoiding the issue with statements like “there is no change in the status of Pete Rose at this time” as just another historical cop out. Most likely, Pete Rose may live out his lifetime as the poster boy for MLB’s buried, but still biggest unresolved player HOF status issue. And Shoeless Joe Jackson is still the biggest factual evidence that death and the passage of a much longer wait may never matter to the people who run baseball.

    • Fred Soland Says:

      Another atrocity is that two of the games greatest players, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were both employed by Bally’s, the largest gaming company in the world, which is strictly forbidden by MLB, yet both were allowed into the HOF and remain there, while Pete Rose is banished. The only way I would EVER agree to banish Rose was if he bet on the Reds to lose while he was the manager. That would show negative intent. They have never found a single time in all of the ledgers and evidence that shows Rose bet any way other than on the Reds to win. Excuse me for sounding condescending here, but aren’t managers supposed to try and manage their teams to victory? I see nothing wrong with betting on them to win, because that proves he was trying to win. You can’t say he was trying harder to win because of the bet.

  3. bhick6 Says:

    Bill –

    I suspect the answer to your question is that MLB deliberately skipped the fanfare. What I read was simply buried among the details of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. No special headlines went with it.

    Your question prompted me to see if I could find an on-line version of the CBA highlights. There is one at:
    http://www.cheatsheet.com/sports/mlb-5-changes-in-the-cba-you-need-to-know.html/?a=viewall

    Bill Hickman

  4. gregclucas Says:

    I like Larry Dierker’s suggestion that the DH die, but that pinch hitters COULD be used for the pitcher without the pitcher having to come out of the game. (That satisfies those who don’t like the pitcher hitting as well as those who don’t like the DH concept for a single player.) The negotiating ploy would be to offer the union one or two more spots on active rosters. Like Dierk I just don’t like the concept of a player doing nothing but hit for a whole game. But I agree with most that #4: Cost of attending games could ultimately be the biggest threat to the sport as we know it. That actually applies to all sports since once you price the younger generation out of being able to afford tickets themselves you are cutting off the future.

  5. Doug S. Says:

    I would add two more items to the growing list:
    #1 Shorten the season to 154 games and have each team play 3 home and road DH’s per season. This reduction of 8 games plus the 6 scheduled DH’s would shave two weeks off the schedule. The MLB season could end in mid October and not early November.
    #2 Sept roster size – I am fine expanding to 40 but only 28 can be active per game and if you were a Starting Pitcher in the last 5 days you have to be included on the active roster for the next game.

  6. A Greg Lucas Reminder of a Dierker DH Proposal | The Pecan Park Eagle Says:

    […] Astros, Baseball History, and other Musings of Heart and Humor « Problems That MLB Chooses to Ignore or Bury […]

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