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For the 1000th time, baseball does not need fixing

Apr 1, 2010, 4:15 PM EDT

You know what you rarely see from a legitimate baseball publication? An article about how to “fix” baseball. This is mostly because baseball folks tend not to think that there’s a ton wrong with the game, and they realize that that which is wrong is complicated enough to justify a dedicated article as opposed to some omnibus baseball-sucks rant. General interest magazines seem to have some baseball dilettante run one every other month, however, and they’re almost uniformly awful, evidencing an almost total misunderstanding of the game’s business and competitive dynamics.

But Matt Taibbi’s offering to that effect in Men’s Journal isn’t so bad!  Oh, it’s ignorant — badly misrepresenting baseball’s TV ratings and citing basketball and football as having their business and competitive houses in order when they most certainly do not — but it’s got two awesome things going for it:

1. A hilarious, albeit likely disingenuous mea culpa for writing last year that the Yankees were a “mercenary” team that couldn’t hope to buy itself a world title; and

2. A totally righteous defense of the old school version of Bernie Brewer, and attendant evisceration of new school Bernie Brewer, which may as well have come straight from my brain. It’s Milwaukee: if you’re gonna have a dude wearing lederhosen go down a slide after a home run, he damn well better land in a mug of beer.

Beyond that, Taibbi covers the following:

  • Instant replay: Taibbi wants it formalized, I prefer a fifth umpire in a booth who can simply overrule any dunderheaded calls by his colleagues;
  • Time controls: Taibbi wants to make pitchers pitch faster and hitters stay in the box. Amen, brother;
  • Salary cap: He wants one, I think that making rules to protect poor billionaires from those ruthless millionaires is all rather silly. If team owners are smart enough to make enough money to afford a baseball team they can figure out how to make one profitable on their own or else they shouldn’t have gotten into the business in the first place. If it’s a competitive balance thing there are better ways to do it;
  • Salary floor: I’m averse because it could prevent teams from tearing down and rebuilding when they need to. No one liked it when the Marlins cut back to a $14 million payroll, but it probably helped them get better faster than if they had pursued the course the Astros and the Royals have done.
  • Expanded rosters: Taibbi wants them. I say no way, because rather than use the extra slots to expand platooning like he wants, most teams would simply add a bunch of scrapheap relief pitchers. He thinks the games are long now, wait until La Russa can make nine pitching changes a game with impunity;
  • Finally, Taibbi asks: “can we please bring back really gross fat guys with bad facial hair?”

I’m all for that one, actually. Anyone know if Matt Stairs made the Padres roster?

  1. t ball - Apr 1, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    Your headline might need a tweak, though.

  2. Old Gator - Apr 1, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    Here’s one he missed: sending a Terminator back to September 1948 to whack Ron Blomberg in his cradle.

  3. Megary - Apr 1, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    “If it’s a competitive balance thing there are better ways to do it”
    Not that I’m for a salary cap because I like (in a diabolical kind of way) when teams sign obviously inferior players to insane contracts, but what are the better ways to competitively balance the scales? And they do need balancing.
    Realignment is the only suggestion I have seen that even comes close to addressing the advantages of payroll (lump all the high payroll teams in one division), but that is not without numerous faults and pitfalls.
    Craig, I’d love to hear what you had in mind.

  4. VA_Friar - Apr 1, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    Bad facial hair ahoy (although apparently he is no longer fat)! Stairs made the cut with SD:

  5. Soup Sandwich - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:11 PM

    Land in a mug of beer? In this politically-correct age? There would be protests from one end of the ballpark to another complaining that having a cartoonish mascot slide into beer is encouraging children to drink alcohol. I’m surprised some new-age, pain-in-the-butt, bleeding-heart do-gooder hasn’t yet demanded Milwaukee change it’s team name or complained that the taxpayer-funded Miller Park name also encourages children to drink. Frankly, I can’t believe MADD hasn’t tried to do it.

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