This was a great topic for the Blog Bat-Around. Thanks to David from Indians Baseball Cards for putting it out there for everyone. Let's just dive right into this thing.
1. Expansion? Uh...no.
First order of business is to put all teams AND their fans on notice. There will be contraction. It will be done fairly and all teams will be subject to it if they don't meet one requirement. It's all about attendance. I'm going to take the attendance numbers for the last three years and combine that with the attendance numbers for the next two years and the 6 teams with the lowest average attendance per game are gone. The teams with low attendance history don't get a free pass, but all teams have two seasons to get their numbers up and stay in the game. No crying from the fans. Get your butts in the seats or you can watch teams in other cities on TV. I'll take care of the expensive tickets with step 3.
2. Leagues, divisions and playoffs.
Those things stay the same for the next two years while the fans determine which teams will be eliminated. After our two year plan goes into effect, we have 24 teams. For the most part, teams will stay in the same league, but changes may have to be made to allow for two 12 team Leagues. Each League will have two 6 team divisions. Come playoff time, 3 teams will make the playoffs from each League. The team in each League with the best overall record will have a first round bye. This will leave one division winner to play the "wildcard", the non-division winner with the best record. That may sound a bit odd to have a division winner play the wildcard, but that may help teams play out the season instead of coasting into the playoffs.
The first round of the playoffs is best of 5 with the LCS and WS still best of 7.
3. It's too expensive to go to games. All teams will be able to lower ticket prices because I'm about to jack with your player salaries. There will be no more big fat contracts. If you're the best player in baseball, you'll get your money. All players will be paid based on a league minimum salary of $500,000. Each full year of service results in a $50K bump in the minimum salary. The big money comes from performance. Wins are worth $X, homers are worth $X and so on. I don't know how that will work exactly, but I'm no accountant. Bonus $ will be paid for leading a team and league in statistical categories. If you have a bad year, you don't just hurt your team, you hurt your bank account. The categories could offer crazy money, I'm not talking about making the players poor. A win could be worth $100K...you win 20, you get $2 million.
4. There will be no salary cap, because you won't need it. There will be a salary floor, but that will be hard to judge with the wacky salary structure. The point is, you WILL be spending most if not all of that revenue sharing money that you get. Revenue sharing will be based on a complicated algorithm involving record and attendance.
5. Since I'm already pissing off the union, I'm axing the DH. It has to be the same in both leagues and I would rather do away with it than force it on the National League. It's time pitchers in the A.L. had to face the opposition and think about it when they go head hunting. Plus, pitchers could earn a few bucks extra. As a little olive branch to the union, I'll expand the rosters by one. Only one.
6. After contraction, if you're team falls into the lowest two teams in average per game attendance three years in a row, you will be contracted and your spot given to another city in your geographical region. Deal with it.
7. The All-Star game will remain in it's current place on the calendar and will NOT count for the World Series home field. All players/coaches on the winning team will receive a $150K bonus and all players/coaches on the losing team will receive $25K. This money will be paid by MLB, not the teams.
8. Instant replay will expanded. I love the human aspect of the game, but the game is too fast or too distant sometimes for the human eye to see what really happened. Umpiring crews will be expanded by two and those two will be in a booth just behind the plate. They will be able to make near instant changes to calls that are wrong and convey this to the homeplate umpire. This will take far less time than it takes for a manager to argue, kick dirt, get thrown out, turn his cap around backward, scream, cuss...etc, etc.
9. Nyjer Morgan will be suspended for the entire 2011 season. Douchebag.
10. There will be no more public money for stadiums. This will henceforth be known as the Marlin Rule. You want a new stadium? You save your pennies, a small percentage of your revenue sharing, get investors, or take out a 30 year mortgage like the rest of us. No more double dipping by getting the fans to PAY for your stadium then charging them to come into a venue they ALREADY own.
11. After every Sunday game, both visiting and home teams will sign their jerseys and hats and give them away to randomly selected seats in the stadium. Maybe even a few balls, bats and bases too. Let's start giving back to the fans. It's not up to the few guys who are really good autograph signers to build the fan relationship. It's up to all the players and teams.
12. Joe Morgan will be banned from announcing anymore games or forcing people to refer to him has "Hall of Famer" Joe Morgan. He can take Chris Berman with him on his exile.
13. Courtesy of the Night Owl, umpires will enforce the strike zone as established by the rule book. No more forcing the pitchers to serve up a fat pitch in a strikezone the size of a salad plate to get a strike called. I see parents all the time yelling at little league umpires for calling the real strike zone. They're spoiled. So are the hitters.
14. I've seen people who are FOR expanding into Mexico. No way. Not until Mexico gets it's act together. I wouldn't force anyone to travel there against their will. I think I'd rather spend a week in Baghdad wearing a United States Flag shirt than spend five minutes anywhere in Mexico.
15. Since I've got all this power, I'll clean house at Upper Deck. Then they get a license along with Topps and the newly reformed Fleer and Donruss companies. Each company will make no more than 6 baseball products per year. Major League players will not be allowed to sign sticker autos. No plain white or gray swatches on relics unless they have real live grass stains or dirt from an actual Major League field. A handful of trusted bloggers will form a panel to approve all designs before they are put into production.
I'm sure there are things I've left out and even things I might change my mind about. As commissioner, I reserve the right to make any further changes without consulting the team owners.