“Changing the Game-for-it’s own Good’
The Baseball Players Association had a nice time out here in LaJolla at their off season meetings.
They played a round of golf at Torrey Pines, had great dinners at fancy restaurants, and tried to find a way to make the game better, for the players, the fans, maybe the owners, and the game itself.
Tony Clark, the former Padres-Tigers 1st baseman, who turned a career in the game, into a post playing career as head of the Union, says he’s willing to talk about alot of things in the offseason with Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Baseball is flush in money from the mega-television contracts. Salaries keep going up. A year from now the collective bargaining agreement ends. Where we once feared the wars of work stoppages, now we deal with the prosperity and the growth of the game.
The injury factor in baseball is staggering. The disabled list contains as many stars as the active rosters do. The wear-and-tear quotient onthe players, the travel, the time demands, need to be changed.
Baseball plays 162-games in 182-days. It’s been all about the income for owners, which is also tied to the huge pay increases for players. But it comes at a price, players immediate health, and long term capabilities.
The rumblings are, take the game back to where it used to be, 154-games. No don’t give us Sunday doubleheaders, the kind we used to see while we were looking at our baseball card collection in 1957.
But find a way to give players more open rest days. Make Monday a mandatory day off. End the overnight flights from one city to another. Rearrange road trips, and starting times, so there are no 4am hotel check ins, followed by early game times. Change getaway days for teams on the road.
It all sounds easy to do, until you realize, that in the real world of the CBA, everything is a bargaining chip when the Union and the Commissioner come to the table.
Of biggest questions to be answered, there is lots of lost revenues, if you go from 162-to-154. The owners lose TV money, gate receipts. One would then think, if there are less games, then the players have to take less money too.
Take a closer look at the schedules. Maybe we don’t need 32-to-37 Cactus League and Grapefruit Circuit games. Maybe we start the regular season in late March, not early April. That gives you additional dates to play with, on top of the 8-days that come available when you go to 154 from 162.
How do you handle the revenue issue? Simple, look at the calendar.
You take the Wildcard playoff play-in game, and make it a best of three playoff series, and you start it a week earlier. The pot of gold stays the same, with the money available in post season play. You might make even more in a Best of 3-first round.
We know wha the tension and excitement has been like the final days, and weeks of the season. We’ve seen 6-and-7 teams all have wildcard chances the final weekend of the year. We saw one wild card slot filled at 11:45pm on the final Sunday night of the season.
Now you carry that into a Best-of-3 wildcard series to kickoff the postseason. Marvelous.
There are so many other issues, many of them economical, you could tie in also.
Increase roster sizes from 25-to-27, that’s 60-more major league jobs for Tony Clark’s clientele. You look at the DL lists of every club, you’d find every manager who wants access to more guys for his lineup.
There will be adjustments too, in the September call-up number, again another bargaining chip, maybe a 40-man roster the final month, but just 30-active any one night.
Lots of bargaining chips to throw on the table as you try to lock down a 154-game schedule..
There are ways to do it, to help the players, make the game better, and grow the revenue stream, now that September-October in baseball has become even more electric.
Tony Clark and the Union will bring their lawyers to the table to face the Commissioner. I hope they bring lots of ideas with them too. 154 wasn’t bad in the days of Hank Aaron, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle. Wouldn’t be bad in this era either.