An open letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the games fans from Mike Lips, baseball fan.
Re: Fixing up your classic
Dear Commissioner Manfred,
I realize this letter likely finds you busy with multitude of issues there at your office, you can trust me when I say things are tough in mine too, or we could have gotten together sooner. I will take my share of the responsibility and with it, take this time out of my schedule to write you.
We have had to deal with some of the same work related issues as you where we are at, it is tough in management sometimes. I have lost some of our best performers over some zero tolerance violations, but there are rules in place, and it is not fair to my employees who adhere to them if we let offenders off lightly. Well, you know what I mean.
But I digress Rob, if I may be so informal, the real purpose for this note is to tell you that people are starting to notice the poor quality classic you have been taking to work. It began with stares of disbelief, followed by titters of laughter, and now has many simply shrugging their shoulders. Many others feel you are unaware of how embarrassingly out dated your classic has become.
Baseball gives you the World Series to show to the fans as the culmination of your years work. Oh, the Fall Classic, once the greatest thing in American sports, of course that was a long time ago, before our time right Rob?
The mid-summer classic, or All-Star game, is the ride you have been taking into the playoffs for 11 seasons now, the only problem with this, your all-star game ride is not a classic.
It’s a clunker.
But it is a nice fixer upper!
The idea to give the game more meaning by rewarding the winning league’s team with the home field advantage in the World Series, began in 2003, the decision came the year after the 2002 all-star game was played to a 7-7 tie in Milwaukee, an 11 inning game in which both teams ran out of players to use in the contest, though both rosters consisted of then 32 players (now 34? 36?). This was not the first All-Star game to end without a winner, the 1961 contest in Boston was tied and called after 9 innings due to rain, MLB did not make any rash movements then, since… it was an exhibition! A show! The game had no meaning or bearing other than letting the fans see the best players all on one field at the same time. Coincidently Milwaukee was also home of the team formerly run by your predecessor Bud Selig, surely it left a bad taste, but what was created in response is, in a word… What?
Does the National Football League or National Basketball League let their all-star game have any bearing on their playoff systems? Of course not, that is just silly, don’t you agree?
You have initiated a few changes to this event in an attempt to drive up interest among television viewers, the two day idle window both before the game led baseball to contrive some time filling competitions for television audiences, most noted is the ‘Home Run Derby’ competition held on the eve of the game.
Enough of the history, how do we make the game an interesting exhibition again, and give the public something that we can enjoy as fans?
Here is the idea, bring something to the event for the fans that any one who ever played in a baseball game can relate to, each of us who grew up choosing teams in our local neighborhood games, from the first picked to the last picked, everyone who showed got into the game. Sound familiar so far Rob?
A simple idea taken from the sandlots of our youth. You could include it with the Home Run Derby contest.
Bring both managers meet out to the mound with a baseball bat. A coin flip to see who tosses and who catches the bat, and hand over hand until the bat handle is covered gives one manager the first choice in the all-star draft! All 68 players are picked one by one to select the two rosters, American and National League players playing side by side, a true exhibition game.
Think of the viewing public, who would not tune in to watch these selections? Simply take a look at the crowd for the NFL draft on television, which all-star would be the MLB version of Mr. Irrelevant? Imagine the office pools and interest in this option, after all this works for the entire month of March in college basketball.
It’s so simple a kid could have thought of it, one did, and they still use this method to this day with no complaints, well, little complaints. Isn’t that the games biggest draw for the fans, how many times have we heard a player tell us how lucky he is to be paid to play the same game he played as a kid?
Then you won’t have to ride that same old classic we are tired of seeing and being reminded of into each October, and we could talk about all-stars through the summer.
If you still feel the need to have the event tied to home field for the World Series, you can use the managers coin toss, it really carries the same weight as your current jalopy, commemorative coins reading “My team won the World Series home field” on one side and “This coin cost us a championship” on the other?
Anyway, got to get back to pressing issues here, this was a nice chat, until next time.
P.S.- A similar note should be on file in your office, wrote to Bud a few years back, a few times, never got a response. I think the NFL’s Roger Goodell has access to your mailbox, have you seen what they started?
Roger, if you are there, call me, you and I need some chat time!