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December 16, 2009

Prospectus Today

You Say You Want a Revolution?

by Joe Sheehan

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As I write this, it's becoming just a little bit suspicious that nearly two days after they presumably "happened," neither of the two huge trades the Phillies made have actually come to fruition. The Phillies have apparently negotiated an extension with Roy Halladay, and physicals are being taken, but there have been no actual announcements, and as I write this on Wednesday afternoon, with a piece on the trade burning a hole in my hard drive, it's just starting to feel a little weird. The deal has been "imminent" for about 48 hours now, but there's been no movement since yesterday afternoon, when word that Halladay and the Phillies had agreed on a contract leaked out.

I'm not saying the deal will or will not happen, just that I'm still not convinced I have enough information to write about it. The details on the prospects coming to Philadelphia from Seattle remain unclear, as do the specifics of Halladay's contract extension. Once a domino falls, I'll post my breakdown of all the moves, but until we get something more solid than "sources" holding forth, I'm going to hold back.

Bud Selig to the rescue. Earlier this week, Selig formed a 14-man committee to look at ways to improve baseball games on the field. As Barry Bloom reported at MLB.com, the committee's charge is to consider everything that goes into the play of the game, such as "pace of game, umpiring, further extension of the use of instant replay, and various rule changes, among others." It's always a good idea to keep an open mind to changes, and while one of baseball's best qualities is that the rules don't change from year to year the way they do for the NFL and NBA, there are definitely elements of the game that can be addressed.

Where it goes wrong is in the construct of the committee, which includes no one under 40 and just one person, Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, under 50. There are four managers, four current or former GMs, four owners, Selig's version of Tony Phillips in Frank Robinson, and the desiccated remnants of George Will. It is an even more transparently useless version of the Blue Ribbon Committee, which also featured Will, a panel that handed down some of the most innumerate, economically illiterate advice on baseball in the history of the game.

That's not even what bothers me the most. No, what bothers me the most is that there are no players on the committee. You have more effete, past-prime political writers than players. You have more 70-year-olds than players. You have more DUI arrests than players. During every labor negotiation, the standard line of management is that they want a partnership with the players, a line that is usually code for an agreement to cap labor costs and guarantee profits for ownership. Every time that line is trotted out, I think of moments like this, far from the muck of negotiations, when management-and I specifically mean Selig here-shows exactly what kind of partnership he wants with the players.

There are 14 spots on this committee to discuss how to make baseball better, and not a single spot for a player? Just four spots for uniformed personnel? How can you possibly have a cogent discussion about how to make baseball better for the 2010s when you don't have a single committee member who's been in a game since the 1970s? There are 1200 or so players on MLB rosters, and you couldn't find a half-dozen of them for this task? You don't think player input on pace of game would be helpful? The opinions of current players on the state of umpiring wouldn't be germane? The eight teams that played in the postseason repeatedly encountered situations where instant replay would have been a useful tool, but you don't want to know what the players on those teams think about using it, whether the increased accuracy is worth the tradeoff of time?

I don't know how players would answer these questions, but I know their answers would mean a whole hell of a lot more than would George Will's, or for that matter, Chuck Armstrong's. Mind you, this is coming from the guy who thinks players do a terrible job of evaluating themselves and each other, and are far too prominent in the coverage of the game. But the issues that this committee is charged with require player input, player evaluation, player opinion. The lack of players on this committee renders it impotent from the start, a good idea gone bad halfway through the introductory press release.

The problems with the assembly of the committee go deeper than that. By my count, more than half the committee will be above retirement age. What kind of advice for the future are you trying to get from a group of people who collectively have nothing but a past? Populism aside, is there really no place in this for an outsider's perspective, a fan's slot? I'm not talking about bringing in someone to ask for $20 box seats and two-dollar beers and banning of all steroid users he's heard of, but surely someone involved in this process, someone on Park Avenue, knows a bright young person who loves the game and has real ideas on how to make it better. MLB likes to talk about how important the fans are to the game while making the fan experience steadily more expensive and difficult; maybe some feedback would be useful.

Where can I sign up for George Will's gig, where you write one fawning book and become branded as some kind of baseball guru for decades to come? The idea that George Will has something useful to say about the play of baseball games in 2010 is ludicrous, and even if you disagree with that statement, you have to agree with me that he wouldn't be one of the first thousand writers you'd ask to be on a committee about modern baseball. I look around and I see writers with credibility among current audiences and a deep love of the game grounded in knowledge of its history, people such as Steven Goldman and Rob Neyer and Joe Posnanski. Having them on the committee, rather than a ghost from the 1980s, would give the group a validity it simply does not have, while also showing two generations of fans who don't give a rip about George Will that MLB has been paying attention to what's happening around it.

Finally, what about someone who doesn't neatly fit into any of these categories, but who is clearly a thinker about baseball? Bill James is a facile answer, but what about Nate Silver, who has a baseball background, non-baseball gravitas, and more raw intelligence than the rest of the committee combined? What about Sean Forman, a non-writer who has contributed as much to the enjoyment of fans as anyone outside the game's structure in the internet era? Where is the committee going to get the next great idea, as opposed to the ones that have been repeated over and over and shown to get no one excited?

This committee isn't designed for that, of course. Most of its value has already passed, in the press release and the conference call, designed so that Selig could say he was doing something. That's how you end up with George Will and Frank Robinson and Bill DeWitt, rather than a committee with a chance to actually make a difference to the game.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

66 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Bob

Agreed on the ridiculous absence of players and the inflated value of George F. Will, but to his credit Will did coin one of my favorite baseball quotations ever, which is directly relevant to the composition of this committee:

"America's pastime is one place where Marx's labor theory of value makes much sense. The players are the central, indispensable ingredients in the creation of considerable wealth. This year fans will buy about 56 million tickets to major league games (perhaps 4 million in Toronto). Not one fan will pay, or tune in to the broadcasts now earning baseball more than a half a billion a year, to see an owner" (Bunts, 1999, p. 205).

Dec 16, 2009 12:21 PM
rating: 0
 
fawcettb

I gotta give kudos to anyone who dislikes George Will this much. All you have to do is parse that quote to see how little Marx Will understands or has actually read. Meanwhile, I'm completely convinced by Joe's arguments that Selig's committee is nothing but window dressing to allow him to do nothing.

Dec 16, 2009 12:42 PM
rating: 3
 
Brian Kopec

Just because you look like the stereotype of intelligence doesn't mean you are an expert on all matters. When will George Will stop being taken seriously in baseball or economics?

Dec 16, 2009 13:09 PM
rating: 2
 
ofMontreal

Exactly. Considering the rest of what Will writes, he's there because he represents the owners point of view, nothing more. I'd say were going to get, if anything, a little bit of negotiating preview with their findings. Shadow puppets to wave in order to win the public side of the argument if there is one.

Dec 16, 2009 18:40 PM
rating: 0
 
raybert

yes. Apparently one of the first groundbreaking discussions they may have is about the designated hitter rule. Apparently LaRussa doesn't like it. It's not baseball as he learned it. The exact mindset that you are worried about in your piece.

Dec 16, 2009 12:23 PM
rating: 0
 
bflaff

Feels like the Committee is basically 'guys Bud Selig talks to already', so all it does is get these guys in the same room together for their coffeehousing, and they get to experience the ego trip of being 'guardians of the game'. But as for doing anything progressive, I don't think the commish is comfortable letting some Don Draper clone he doesn't know well Powerpoint his way through a proposal to do something significantly different. Bud is an old guy who likes his oatmeal. That's understandable.

Dec 16, 2009 12:24 PM
rating: 7
 
thenamestsam

Thank you Joe, for putting eloquently what we're all thinking. Change doesn't come from putting the same group of old dudes in a room and letting them reminisce until they've either come up with some irrelevant suggestions or all dozed off. The odds of this committee achieving something we remember in five years is approximately non-existent.

Dec 16, 2009 12:26 PM
rating: 2
 
eighteen

No umpires on the committee, either. How can you have a meaningful discussion about the use of instant replay without umpire participation?

As is usual with Selig, this is all about appearances; designed so he has something to point to next November when all the same complaints arise about bad umpiring, incessant commercials, excess off days, etc.

Dec 16, 2009 12:27 PM
rating: 7
 
3n2sports

Seriously, can we ban the same commercial from being played more than twice during a given game. I'm thinking of the obvious television attrocities of "Men of a Certain Age" and "The George Lopez Show". Also those damn Chevy commercials where the words are flying up on the screen in giant bolded text.

Dec 16, 2009 13:46 PM
rating: 1
 
Paul Andrew Burnett

Ron Silver yelling "His father is the district attorney!" still inhabits my nightmares.

Dec 17, 2009 10:56 AM
rating: 3
 
Vinegar Bend
(477)

if they're going to talk about umpiring and instant replay, how about putting an actual umpire on the committee?

Dec 16, 2009 12:38 PM
rating: 1
 
goodwine10

Joe, these were my exact thoughts as soon as I saw who he picked.

Bud: If I pick my buddies, they'll just rubber-stamp us not having replays so we can still have a boatload of incorrect calls?

Underling: Um, yeah, but why don't we want to get things right?

Bud: Don't care.

Dec 16, 2009 12:39 PM
rating: 1
 
lurgee21

As Don DeLillo once said, "I don't blame America for Lee Harvey Oswald. I blame America for George Will."

I didn't even realize how irrelevant this committee was until reading this. Too bad Mitch Williams didn't have the cajones to bring up the issues when Selig called in to MLB last night. What a joke.

Dec 16, 2009 12:40 PM
rating: 5
 
hessshaun

And how long do you think Mitch Williams hangs on to his job? Wanna take a guess at what his pay stub says? Listen, I understand integrity, but I also understand that everyone has to make a living. Baseball has far worse issues than Williams ability to ask Selig a tough question.

In terms of this George Will fellow, I can proudly say that I never heard of him. I feel like I am pretty well read in the baseball arena and I can't say that I heard his name before today. I check into this site every day for the last few years, read 20+ books, and commit way too much time on other baseball related sources and sites. At this point I am going to figure out who he is. What I would really appreciate is that they made this public. We are all going to watch the game moving forward regardless of the outcome.

Dec 16, 2009 13:07 PM
rating: 0
 
3n2sports

He's more of a baseball historian who has somehow wormed his way into becoming one of the old guard gate keepers. If you want to read about Branch Rickey or Henry Chadwick then you're going to run across some George Will. If you want to read about Bill James and Tim Raines and the development of the SABR community, then you probably won't. I'm guessing you've done the latter.

Dec 16, 2009 13:49 PM
rating: 0
 
hessshaun

I have not read about either but thanks for guessing. Like I said, I have only read about 20+ books on the low end. I really don't have a defined curriculum, it just needs to be baseball related. It's really all over the place, obscure stuff.

Dec 16, 2009 15:54 PM
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lurgee21

I didn't seriously expect Williams to say anything -- I fully understand that the MLB network has to show respect to Selig and Williams may be their "wild west" type commentator, but criticizing what seems to be an innocuous committee would be a foolish move. More than anything, Williams often manages to say things without thinking.

I'm not sure how you've missed out on the lunacy of George Will -- though i guess he's been more popular for his smarmy-conservatism than his old-timey baseballisms in the recent past.

Dec 16, 2009 18:36 PM
rating: 0
 
Jared

Halladay press conference in about an hour, to announce the deal is final. The trade is essentially two seperate trades, Phils trade prospects to Jay's for Halladay, M's trade prospects to Phils for Lee... same prospects that have been speculated on for the past two days... can't wait to read your analysis Joe!

Dec 16, 2009 12:59 PM
rating: 0
 
Dave Holgado

I posted a comment to this effect in John's "On the Beat" column of today as well, but two words: Bill James. He is as forward-thinking about the game today as he was in the 80's. And he's a company man now, too, so you don't even have an excuse to leave him out of the discussion.

I vote an enthusiastic yes on Nate as well. Especially if it gives him something to do other than call progressives "batsh*t crazy" for refusing on principle to support a health care bill which -- while improving access and affordability for many -- mandates coverage without doing anything to increase competition among insurers, a massive giveaway to the private health insurance industry.

Sorry, I know it's a baseball site. But since you're touting Nate's non-baseball gravitas and raw intelligence (both of which are undeniable and appreciated), I feel the need to point out how even a genius can have a bad idea now and then. Sort of like your $34 bid on B.J. Upton. :-) (And I say this as the genius who went to $39 on him.)

Dec 16, 2009 13:05 PM
rating: 3
 
marooner

So, I guess that the frozen head of Ted Williams was too busy?

Also, to add to Joe's list of ignored constituencies, how about a broadcaster? No one more greatly suffers the game's delays than the guy (or lady) sitting in a radio booth trying to fill time.

Dec 16, 2009 13:06 PM
rating: 10
 
harderj

Jon Miller would add a lot. I really liked reading his book recently.

Everything we know about change says it's easier to actually implement if the people who have to actually implement it have a voice in the process. Though broadcasters wouldn't necessarily have to change as much as react, umpires, players, and others would.

So, if they really wanted ideas for positive change, in addition to some others that have been named I would suggest Tom Boswell (writer), Mike Veeck (minor league owner/promoter), Cal Ripken (venerable former player), and Steve Palermo (umpire).

Dec 17, 2009 14:48 PM
rating: 0
 
Gordon

For something like this, the players union should have been asked to supply some of the members of the panel.

Dec 16, 2009 13:21 PM
rating: 1
 
bozarowski

It's funny, Joe, there are many times I disagree with what you're writing but I keep coming back for more, and it's because of articles like this. You are completely correct in your analysis and have been one of the first writers I've seen call attention to this matter.

Selig is telling us we wouldn't benefit from some well-respected current and recent players to join this committee (assuming, of course, that the content of discourse would be kept confidential)? I think Curt Schilling, Sean Casey, Mike Mussina (about as smart a guy as has played baseball in recent years) and someone like Torii Hunter could be great additions to the committee. Perhaps a player with deep community service affiliations could help as well, like Hunter, Sabathia, Swisher or Granderson.

Neyer, Silver and Posnanski would also be interesting, and relevant, additions to the group.

I can't imagine this group makes any substantial changes (or suggestions, I should say) to the game of baseball.

Dec 16, 2009 13:32 PM
rating: 2
 
doncoffin
(422)

This was my immediate response: "there are no players on the committee..."

Generally, terms and conditions of employment, including work rules, are bargainable topics ina unionized environment. If I were the executive director of the MLBPA, I'm sure I'd want the voice of the players heard, either in the advisory commission (which I guess means the owners get to do whatever they want) on when the next agreement is bargained.

Interestingly, Phil Rogers' immediate response, in the Chicago Tribune, was to suggest this is the death knell of the designated hitter.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-16-rogers-bud-selig-dec16,0,4802677.column

Dec 16, 2009 13:33 PM
rating: 0
 
garethbluejays1

As an Englishman brought up with soccer and other sports that don't have the amazing protection American Sports Owners enjoy, can I ask if any Commisioner has ever done anything other than attempt to fleece all income sources to put money in the pockets of his bosses?

Dec 16, 2009 13:36 PM
rating: 3
 
royalsnightly

he's brought jobs, thousands of jobs, along with economic development to communities across america

(bursts out laughing)

Dec 16, 2009 13:40 PM
rating: 2
 
Justin Miller

I think the answer to that is yes, but you'd have to go back pretty far to find one. The first couple were mainly concerned with attempting to eliminate gambling from the game and keeping the American and National Leagues from tearing each other apart.

Dec 17, 2009 06:02 AM
rating: 1
 
Polfro

Superb piece, Joe, you nailed it. MLB continues to operate like they're still in the 1950s or imprisoned inside a Ken Burns movie. At this rate they will yesteryear the game right out of existence.

and Marooner...Your Ted Williams comment was the funniest thing I've read in a month.

Dec 16, 2009 13:38 PM
rating: 0
 
Brian Kopec

No DH, no wild card, no amateur draft, no Latin American players, most of the best black players still playing in the Negro Leagues, no teams west of St. Louis...

Is MLB really operating like it's the 1950's?

Dec 16, 2009 19:08 PM
rating: 1
 
royalsnightly

all that's missing is a team of architects from HOK

as backwards looking as they wanna be

Dec 16, 2009 13:39 PM
rating: 4
 
Kate Kirby
(93)

Yeah, I'd rather have Stephen King than George Will. He's written a baseball book too.

But really, I'd like to see: Curt Schilling, Mark Cuban, Billy Beane, Doug Glanville (Okay, just because I miss him from quotes of the day), Kieth Olbermann, Bill James, Charles Finley... my panel would be a lot more interesting! :) Anyone could come up with a better panel than Selig could.

Dec 16, 2009 13:41 PM
rating: 1
 
3n2sports

Seriously, it's so simple to make a panel. Pick a couple experts and then pick a whole slop of people with very diverse backgrounds until you reach the number of panelists you want. Just try to avoid anyone who's super-crazy

Dec 16, 2009 13:54 PM
rating: 2
 
husier
(90)

Amen, Joe ...

Dec 16, 2009 13:57 PM
rating: 1
 
bobgale

I could see one or two of those relics being invited into the conversation but did they have to bring in the entire collection?

I'd like to nominate Cory Schwartz, Will Carroll and Joe Sheehan to the group in place of George Will and any two of the others.

Dec 16, 2009 14:04 PM
rating: 0
 
John Douglass

Regarding fans, while we don't have a seat on this committee, we have cast a vote relative to the "steadily more expensive and difficult" experience of going to the ballpark. Or, rather, 5,110,878 votes, the decline in attendance from 2008 to 2009. I think our fan votes, cast throughout the season in 2009, were a major factor in the formation of the committee.

Outside of Will, there's no one on the committee I'd exclude, but would rather prefer to see the base that has been established added to with an ump or two and a handful of players.

With all due respect to Silver, who I think would be a valuable add to the committee, I think it's a disservice to the few centuries of baseball experience on the committee, and the intelligence of guys like Tony La Russa and Andy McPhail to suggest Silver has "more raw intelligence than the rest of the committee combined." And who is more deserving to have the commissioner's ear when it comes to improving the game and the fan experience than Bill Dewitt, who suffered from down attendance in a year that his team got better, had two Cy candidates, and put the best player of our generation on display? I have faith that Dewitt wants to improve baseball, because if the game does not improve, neither does his bottom line.

Dec 16, 2009 14:34 PM
rating: 4
 
howlingmoon

Not to just state the obvious, Selig is not the Commissioner of Baseball, he is the Commissioner of Baseball Owners. This Committee is just one more brick in that wall.

Dec 16, 2009 15:05 PM
rating: 4
 
Aaron Moreno
(314)

George Will's opinion on baseball should have as much weight as Joe Sheehan's opinion on politics.

Dec 16, 2009 15:11 PM
rating: -1
 
Brian Kopec

Actually...I might trust Sheehan on politics a little more than Will.

Dec 16, 2009 18:39 PM
rating: 1
 
Bob

Even as annoying as George Will on baseball is, I'd much rather hear him talk about baseball than politics.

Dec 16, 2009 19:28 PM
rating: 0
 
tooci4

"I remember the 18-iggitties when lefties weren't allowed and we ran to THIRD base first and FIRST base third! Let's go back to that!"

Dec 16, 2009 15:25 PM
rating: 2
 
Zach Nadel

Hey Joe,

Your best analysis....evaaaah! At the risk of sounding like a fan of another political figure - "Ditto"

Dec 16, 2009 15:46 PM
rating: 0
 
keef66

Think of how perfect and obvious a choice somebody like Larry Dierker would have been. He's seen the game from the point of view of player, manager, broadcaster and author. If I can come up with him on the spur of the moment, it shows how little thought was put into this formation.

Dec 16, 2009 15:47 PM
rating: 2
 
duck4169

Nothing to add except "thank you, Joe" - just perfect.

Dec 16, 2009 16:08 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt

But what's the big deal? Isn't this just an advisory committee to help him make decisions? Probably consisting of the same people he was likely to be advised by before? There doesn't seem to be anything in the spirit or execution that is different than before, except that he can spin his decisions as being approved by special committee.

Dec 16, 2009 16:26 PM
rating: -1
 
sandriola

Unfortunately, that can mean a lot to the casual fan or non-fan that knows little to nothing about the real issues, but recognizes George Will's or Frank Robinson's names.

Dec 16, 2009 18:05 PM
rating: 1
 
WaldoInSC

Quit beating around the bush, Joe. Tell us how you really feel.

Dec 16, 2009 17:28 PM
rating: 1
 
Brian Kopec

To be fair to Bud, he is no kind of traditionalist. His reign has been one of radical, game altering changes... expansion, wild cards, turning a blind eye while steroids proliferated, followed by the institution of steroid testing.

The one consistenct thing is that he is only interested in changes that put $change$ in the owners' pockets. I don't mean that as an insult because that is why he became commissioner; and he has been very good at his job.

If you want to see Bud support, say instant replay, then all you have to do is demonstrate that it means more profit.

Dec 16, 2009 18:58 PM
rating: 3
 
BurrRutledge

Bud, Instant Replay allows for increased revenue by opening new possibilities for advertising through MLB Advanced Media.

Dec 16, 2009 21:49 PM
rating: 0
 
TADontAsk

Unfortunately it's more likely to be - Instant replay allows for increased commercial breaks that allow us to see a handful more of the aforementioned "Men of a Certain Age" and "George Lopez Show" ads.

Dec 17, 2009 07:50 AM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

While it seems that most commenters here are thinking that nothing of consequence will come of these meetings.
Maybe, but that is not the worst case scenario. This may be the groundwork for the sport-wide equivalent of the franchise-crippling free agent signing (i.e. Vernon Wells). With their limited set of viewpoints, this committee may make a decision or two that is positively horrible for the game.
We must do something to expand the panel.

Dec 16, 2009 20:19 PM
rating: 0
 
jillsinmo

I am flabbergasted. No players. No players! Does Mr. Selig realize there is no baseball without the players? Did they invite any Fox executives? Doesn't baseball take the money so Fox can say when the post season games are played? But hey, appearances are important, did you see who's on the committee? Ha-these guys are just going to look at each other and say we know everything. We're right. You all go home now.

The Players Association, (and the umpires too) ought to raise a stink about this.

Dec 16, 2009 21:08 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Hate on him all you want, but Men at Work was as good as any book BP has ever put out.

Dec 16, 2009 23:18 PM
rating: -8
 
harderj

I liked Men at Work, and am bummed that I somehow lost my copy, and I also enjoyed much of his book Bunts.

For baseball writers though, and insights into the non-statistical aspects of the game, I prefer Tom Boswell ("Why Life is Like the World Series") or even Roger Angell.

However, BP's "Mind Game," "Baseball Between the Numbers," and many of the daily columns have added to my personal baseball knowledge and appreciation more than Will's work.

I also recommend John Schuerholz's, Jon Miller's, and Whitey Herzog's books for good general baseball reading.

Anyone read the new one by Gibson/Reggie yet?

Dec 18, 2009 06:11 AM
rating: -1
 
arcee555

This committee is just for show. The people on it are not decision makers for MLB. Sure LaRussa & Sciosia have imput on their respective teams, but only in personel decisions, not administrative ones. This just takes some heat off Bud, so he can say he has "people" (all with favorable public images) looking into changes. The real changes will come from Bud & the union.

Dec 17, 2009 00:53 AM
rating: 0
 
Bob

While we're on the subject of George Will, I think it's worthwhile to revisit this classic skit from Saturday Night Live:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/3142

(though in fairness, I think you could make the same joke with a BP-style baseball game show, or in the style of the Onion: http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/stat_minded_player)

Dec 17, 2009 08:22 AM
rating: 1
 
harderj

Very nice, as I had seen neither before.

Dec 18, 2009 06:20 AM
rating: 0
 
Bob

I flagged my own post for moderation by accident. Sorry about that...

Dec 18, 2009 13:09 PM
rating: 0
 
Donnymo

Cronies not Craniums?

Didn't George Will write the he refuses to own blue jeans?
How American is that?

Rubber stamp agreement. No thanks!

How about Hawkeye-like strike zone calls,
with the umpire only relaying the info after the CORRECT call?
Just give him an earpiece to hear what he should call.
Wouldn't slow down the game.

Dec 17, 2009 09:12 AM
rating: 0
 
warclub

This is just one more reason that Selig needs to be ousted as Commissioner. Selig wants the committee to rubber stamp his ideals.

Why not Peter Gammons and Bill James on this committee?

Dec 17, 2009 09:33 AM
rating: 0
 
Bob Horton

One other perspective that might be relevant: having been involved in these kind of committees throughout my career. I can say with certainty that a constituency is actually better off with no representation than with a token representative. If your voice is only one amongst a large group of "others" who will likely have strongly divergent opinions, you are put in a must-lose situation sitting on the committee. Would you like to be remembered as the player that went along with the recommendation to start every game with the recitation of the pledge of allegiance -- the pledge of allegiance to Bud, that is? Better to criticize from afar than to be drowned out from the inside, in my experience.

Dec 17, 2009 09:45 AM
rating: 2
 
j11forbes

Actually, Tom Boswell had some interesting proposed changes the competition committee might actually consider, mostly focused on reducing the length of games. My two favorite were banning on all mound visits by pitching coaches and managers and a rule that every reliever must face either two batters or end an inning.

Dec 17, 2009 10:56 AM
rating: 0
 
Patrick

I'd rather they first find solutions that don't change the actual rules of the game before imposing arbitrary batters-faced minimums and getting rid of the intentional walk, as some writers have suggested. I'd be fine getting rid of coaches visits (usually a stall to give a reliever more time to warm up) and players stepping out of the box and pitchers stepping off the rubber, but let's not change the game on the field until other options are exhausted. Calling the strike zone as it's defined would help, too.

I'm not convinced that shaving a few minutes off a game is going to bring significantly more fans to baseball. People who don't like baseball find it slow and the games too long, yet will watch 3.5-hour NFL games consisting mostly of guys milling around between plays. Maybe MLB just isn't selling its product as well as it could.

Dec 17, 2009 15:52 PM
rating: 0
 
Brian Kopec

You have a great point about MLB vs NFL. If not for my DVR (fast forward through commercials and huddles) I'm not sure I could get through an entire NFL game with all the stoppages.

Perhaps what MLB needs to do is to make obstruction of baserunners legal. That way you'd start to see infielders blind-siding runners going around the bases (but you aren't allowed to hit a pitcher). A few spinal concussions later, the ratings would be golden.

Dec 18, 2009 05:53 AM
rating: 0
 
misterjohnny
(925)

Having George Will on the committee is about as ridiculous as having Keith Olbermann writing the forward of a Baseball book.

;)

Dec 18, 2009 09:55 AM
rating: -1
 
nemonc

The lack of players & umpires has been covered here. The umping needs help, particularly on bang-bang plays at first & home. ("I've never questioned the integrity of an umpire. Their eyesight, yes." - Leo Durocher).

Bill James would probably too much of an iconoclast for Chairman Bud, but his insights on the ridiculousness of some rules would be fresh.

There are too numerous to count better quality of writers to chose from, including Hall-of-Famers like Peter Gammons, who probably would be best at the interface of media to MLB.

Although this blew-ribbon committee is for on-field issues, a lot of this spills over into off-field problems. Those decisions that put players on the field, and how its presented to the fan base.

Where is representation on what to do for the *economics* of the game? Here, even Doug Pappas (may he rest in peace) in his current state would be a more effective representative than George Will (a well-established advocate of the status quo, so no contribution there). Compare their bodies of work.

Regrettably, there is no good way to select out your typical Joe Blow fan with a family of four--has anyone priced what the cost for a family is for a trip to Ye Olde Hometown MLB team's tax-payer-paid venue?

Strangely, what about a player agent? Sort of like inviting a rabid skunk to this garden party, but it's another perspective on economics & player relations. It doesn't get better--or worse--than Scott Boras (reminding me of Charles O. Finley's declaration at the dawn of free agency--why make any of them free agents? Make them *all* free agents! Finley was penurious as they come, and he saw the future ballooning of player contracts).

For what its worth.

Dec 19, 2009 05:22 AM
rating: 0
 
Patrick M

I was quite surprised that in 65 previous comments, only 2 or so actually considered various changes/updates that could be considered, with the rest basically panning the composition of the committee.

Count me amongst the "the games does not need fixing" camp, but even so, I would like to see serious consideration of requiring pitchers to face two batters rather than one. The constant parade of relief specialists has become an unnecessary drag on the game. It may make the LOOGY's job a little less secure, but if it contributes to a switch back to a 10-man pitching staff (or at most an 11-man staff) and putting the brakes on this 12-man-ism that has taken hold of too many teams, then that in my opinion would be very salutary.

Dec 29, 2009 07:41 AM
rating: 0
 
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