BOSTON (CBS) — As we begin one of the greatest times of year — Spring Training — I’d like to share some thoughts about fixing the game. These are simple thoughts from someone who has been watching the game since I was a little kid, and someone who still loves, loves, loves baseball.
Criticize, rip apart, do what you want — I just thought I’d throw some ideas out there for fun. So here goes nothing…READ MORE: 'It's Like An Assault.' Bar Made Famous By 'Perfect Storm' Asks For Return Of Stolen Photo Album
How about a decade free of labor issues in Major League Baseball? How do we get there? Here’s my plan.
Let’s welcome the MLBPA into a room. Tony Clark, come on in. The eight-man Players Executive Committee are welcome, too. From the owners side, a group of 5-10 works for me.
I also want a “Grower Of The Game” committee led by Theo Epstein. I want Theo in this room. The committee can also include former players, a media member or two (how about Bob Costas and Vin Scully?), a minor league representative and perhaps a fan voice. They can give input to Theo as we go along.
I’d lock all of them in a hotel for however long this takes. And here’s what I want to hammer out:
– A new 10-year labor deal.
– A feeling of togetherness, trust.
– A 50/50 revenue sharing agreement.
– A salary cap to appease the owners and a salary floor to appease the players.
Let’s figure out the numbers and agree that the “small market” teams need to spend money. If they don’t agree, we’ll find another market/team that would agree to this (Nashville, Montreal, Charlotte, and Portland are all intriguing options).
– I want a simple rule for free agency. If you sign out of high school, you are a free agent in eight years. If you sign after three years of college, you hit free agency in five years.
Creating More Buzz
– I want to create a bigger interest in the Winter Meetings, which take place over five days in early December. I would start free agency on Day One of the Winter Meetings.
How do you make those meetings more interesting? Players can agree to multi-year deals over that five-day period. If a player doesn’t agree to a deal in that time frame, they may only agree to a one-year deal after that period.
– We also need to fix the All-Star game and make it something everyone would want to participate in — and watch. So how about a little more cash for those involved??? Players, managers, coaches (via sponsors) would earn $100,000 each for winning the Midsummer Classic.
– I would heavily promote the Olympics, World Baseball Classic and Winter Leagues to help grow the game.
– I also want constant polling of large sample sizes of fans through the year, gauging what they want to see in the game, at the game, etc. It’s important to know how the fans feel about our game all the time.
Fixing The Game
– For starters, I’d shorten the regular season to 140 games, though that figure is negotiable. I’d cap it at 154 games.
– Monday is an off day for every team.READ MORE: 'A Tragic Case Of Domestic Violence.' Police Investigating Possible Murder-Suicide In Oxford
– The season will start in warm weather parks or domes.
– I’d schedule 7-inning doubleheaders twice per month on Sundays, with free admission for kids 12 and under (accompanied by an adult, of course). I’d really push for more ticket specials and promotions to get more kids at games.
– I’d instill a mandatory 7:05pm start time for night games — including Sunday Night Baseball.
– Rosters would increase to 28 players, and there would be a designated hitter in both leagues.
– Extra innings would start with a runner on second base.
– I’d expand the playoffs to 14 teams.
– There would be a round of infield/outfield before a game once per series.
– Three players per game – on a rotating basis – will sign autographs for 10 minutes before each game.
The following will be implemented with free-flowing ideas/experiments for regular season play until we get what works best for the fans/players:
– A 25-second pitch clock.
– A player would have to keep one foot in the batter’s box in between pitches.
– Pitchers would have to face a minimum of three batters before managers make a change.
– Each team would have just five mound visits per game.
– Each manager would have one challenge per game.
– There would be one video official upstairs to review/change obvious plays.
– I’d limit shifts to the left or right side — third base, shortstop, and left fielders could not go to the right side of infield/outfield.
Everything is negotiable in that massive meeting of the minds! We just need to have agreements when we leave the room — no matter how long it takes. All rule changes will be reviewed after each season (or even at the All-Star Break) so they can be modified/changed/thrown out.
I’d also welcome fan input on any and all rule changes. It’s their game.
We also need regular meetings that include an MLB owner, a player, a minor league representative, a college baseball rep, high school rep and even a Little League rep too. All can add a different perspective on the game.
Again, this is just the beginning for me. What is key is building a relationship/trust that will create a unity amongst the players and owners. It’s simply time to change and grow the game.MORE NEWS: 'Amazing, Absolutely Amazing.' Former NFL Player Living In Provincetown Reacts To Carl Nassib's Coming Out
Thank you for allowing me to be MLB commissioner for a day!