Major League Baseball needs to find ways to make the off season more of a show!
Football has it down.
They are a year long event as a sport, even though each team only plays 16 regular season games.
Baseball plays 10 times as many games and yet sometimes has trouble staying on the national radar.
Football has made the draft a must watch TV event… they draw huge crowds to workouts and practices… their pre season games draw better ratings than some MLB playoff games…
Baseball needs to get some of the football showmanship that keeps it on the front page all year.
They are some small things they can do, like don’t hold the Winter Meetings until AFTER the Non Tendered Free Agents are announced. Or don’t announce you are thinking about contraction hours after a great World Series has been played.
Of course that would mean having an actual Commissioner, but I digress.
The staff at Sully Baseball has been compiling ideas of ways MLB can put on a few shows and stay in the public eye, even when games AREN’T being played.
THE BASEBALL AWARD SHOW
Why they don’t do this now completely baffles me.
Think of it… one night, we learn the Rookie of the Year, the Manager of the Year, the Comeback Player of the Year, the Gold Gloves, the Cy Young and the MVP are all awarded on the same night.
We get to see A-Rod, Pujols, Lincecum and Ryan Howard in a tux.
We get to see former baseball greats paired up with entertainers to present awards.
“Ladies and Gentlemen…
Bob Feller and Lady Gaga!”
It would be worth it to cut to Jim Leyland squirming in his seat uncomfortably during the song and dance number that starts the show.
You get a comic who loves baseball to host it… Jerry Seinfeld? Chris Rock? ME!!!!
You show clips, have reunions on stage. “Ladies and Gentlemen… welcome all the closers Bobby Cox used from 1991-2005.”
Wouldn’t that be a more fun way of learning about the awards than a press release?
THE HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCEMENT
The way the Hall of Fame is announced now is so anti climactic. A phone call is made, a press release is faxed or put on a website and it gets leaked.
Not neatly dramatic enough.
I say they channel their inner Publishers Clearing House notifiers.
Each of the Hall of Famers on the ballot… from Bert Blyleven to Jay Bell… need to be home between 12 AM and 3 PM EST. We see a van drive but we’re not sure where we are…
Then they pull up to a house, ring the door bell. Who could it be?
JIM RICE ANSWERS THE DOOR!!!!
JIM RICE IS A HALL OF FAMER!!!!
He hugs his wife and kids. We see the actual moment it happens!
But wait, we’re going back to the next van driving up…
I’m telling you it is a wonderful new baseball tradition we can unleash!
REVENUE SHARING SPENDING SPREE
The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and other big market teams need to cough up money to revenue sharing and teams like the Marlins, Reds and Pirates collect… but what do the teams DO with the money.
Forget this vague “putting it back into the team” promise. Let’s see it!
They have 24 hours to spend all of the revenue sharing money.
And have it be just as the free agents are announced.
Each team has to spend EVERY SINGLE DIME in 24 hours. It will be like Supermarket Sweep, except with baseball players!!!
If it is going into scouting, then they have to show which scouts are getting paid.
If it is going into draft picks, they have to produce one of those big ass Ed McMahon checks that they present on draft day.
And if it going into free agents, they have the 24 hours to spend it.
After 24 hours, they money goes back to the original team.
Wouldn’t it be funny to see GMs turn into the equivalent of Richard Pryor in Brewster’s Millions? And those lose revenue teams would get a chance to have money put into their teams… and there is the chance for some REALLY strange signings!
THE SALARY FLOOR
While some people yap about baseball needing to limit spending, I say some teams need to step up! Each team should have a minimum payroll… let’s say $50 million.
$50 million isn’t outrageous. I’m not asking teams to crack nine digits. But teams like the Marlins taking the field with a $36 million are asking for trouble. (Granted they put a winning product on the field while the Mets flopped with a payroll 4 times that… but again I digress.)
Now in 2009, only 3 teams would have been affected by the salary floor… the Pirates, the Padres and the Marlins.
But they’d each have to pony up some cash on the day before Spring Training… and they’d have to do it at a live workout at the Walt Disney Complex in Orlando.
Imagine it… all of the unsigned free agents working out and showing what they got.
Basically every year you’d have the opening of Major League.
You’d get some cut superstars… and Jose Canseco would inevitably show up.
Who knows? Maybe Billy Crystal can try out again!
Make it a reality show… “SO YOU THINK YOU MAKE THE BIG LEAGUES!“
And then at the end of the day, live on TV, the teams that need to work up to the salary floor start handing out contracts to get the payroll to $50 million.
A Marlins team with $14 million more talent on the roster last year could maybe have won 90 games.
And hey… how could a show that gets baseball chatter going on in small markets be a bad thing?
The strange thing is, even though my tongue is firmly in cheek as I write this, I am also being serious! I would watch every single one of these programs.
They would be TV events and internet events for baseball during the off season… and get some markets that aren’t thinking about baseball at least chatting for a day or two.
And before you dismiss all of this as just Sully being crazy, remember… when ESPN approached the NFL with their idea of broadcasting the Draft, it was dismissed as just another piece of cable filler.
Now it is an event on the sports calendar.
Time to have a few more for baseball!
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