Major League Baseball moving forward

Wire photoTexas Rangers’ Rougned Odor punches Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista during a May 15, 2016 altercation in Arlington, Texas.

Miscellaneous Widespread Changes

Awards Presentations: The regular season awards are self identifying, they do not take the playoffs into account. So why on earth are they given after the World Series is over?

This is a simple change that I think can be reasonably accomplished. The last week of the season should be for those who vote on such things, to cast their votes, and the deadline should be one hour removed from the final out being made in the last game of Major League season.

Whoever it is that actually votes on these awards, will have an entire week to consider candidates and put their ballot together, and a full hour to review and make last minute changes if they desire, considering how the last week of the year played out.

This finally erases doubt and speculation on who will win each award, throughout the postseason, when it is often someone not even in the playoffs that could win an MVP or a Cy Young Award.

Make a decision about the designated hitter: This has been a hot-button issue for a lot of fans, analysts, players, and broadcasters alike for a few decades.

Old-school guys don’t like the idea of an extra hitter that doesn’t field or pitch during the game, but others do not see why American League pitchers should have to hit. Thus, we have had a DH in the AL since 1973. Growing up and learning the game, the best player on most teams, through high school really, is usually their best hitter, and has the best arm on the mound.

Recently though, high schools across the United States have been given further wiggle room, and can choose whether they use a DH or not, even if it’s not for your pitcher.

You can pick the kid who is the weakest hitter, and designate a hitter for them so they only have to play in the field. The amount of layers goes into this even further, but it will take far too long to dissect.

A simple and logical solution should be to either have the designated hitter in Major League Baseball apply to all teams, American League and National League, or go back to the old way prior to 1973, and abolish it altogether.

Make changes to deter brawls: When baseball players have disagreements on the field it can get ugly very quickly, quite literally because no one besides Nolan Ryan and Rougned Odor have ever thrown a clean punch in baseball history.

Not only that, but it is the biggest waste of time that MLB has when benches and bullpens clear and everybody rushes to the middle of the field, and 97 times out of 100, nothing of any significance ever happens.

This is why MLB should approach this like the National Hockey League does. If you have an issue with a pitcher, it usually occurs when the pitcher hits a batter or throws too far inside, you put your bat down, take your helmet off and square up on your way to the mound. If you choose to engage in this, you (the batter) AND the pitcher will be ejected.

The umpires will try to deescalate the situation, but will allow this until the players either go to the ground, are in a stalemate, or ultimately realize they are being ridiculous and do not know how to punch, and separate themselves.

Any other players that get involved will also be immediately ejected. Batters should be suspended a minimum of 5 games, and pitchers a minimum of 7, which would guarantee at least one missed start for starting pitchers. The suspensions could obviously be larger if the situation called for it.

Shorter seasons and playoff expansion: There has been talk of expanding the number of teams fielded for the MLB Postseason and changing the format as far as seeding goes.

The regular season is also 162 games long, and that needs to change before the playoff bracket does. Shortening the season would definitely cost owners money so I don’t expect it to happen without a great deal of pushback in the beginning stages, but I think it’s necessary for the health of the players and their ability to sustain longer careers, to be the top priority.

I do not think it would be unreasonable to lop-off a chunk of the season to do that. I think a 100-game season is a tad short, so I think a 125-game season would be perfect.

It’s 37 less games than the current calendar, and could even lead to making spring training a little bit longer, so players can actually work their way back into regular season-form by opening day. 125 games is a very good indication of where the teams will be at, if they were to play to 162, and it will lower the amount of starts a starting pitcher has to make, by about six or seven.

I believe this will lower the risk of arm injuries, and the need for surgeries like Tommy John could fade away. Plus, everyone complains nowadays that starters rarely pitch more than six innings per start, when they used to pitch complete games all the time, and they weren’t good enough if they couldn’t pitch seven or eight innings.

With the amount of starts diminishing, this could drive innings-pitched back up to a respectable number.

Now for the playoffs, I think the current model is great. But if they were to expand, it should not be by very much. The idea of the playoffs is to have the best teams there, fighting for a championship.

So the notion that much more teams should be included in that chase, isn’t a practical one. My idea for a modified MLB Postseason, mirrors that of the National Football League in some cases.

In the current format, there are three division winners in each league, and two wild card teams that are the teams with the two best records for non-division winners. My system would add a third team to that mix.

Last season that would have added the New York Mets (86-76) to the NL field and the Cleveland Indians (93-69) for the AL grouping. I would give the teams with the top two records in each league, a first round bye, much like the NFL model.

So that will leave the division winner with the least amount of wins, to play in the Wild Card round, matched-up against the 3rd WC team (worst record). And then the top 2 WC teams play each other.

So, you can approach the Wild Card round two different ways. Either have them all be one-game playoffs, or be short, 3-game series. One-game playoffs mean more exciting games and more all-out effort of course.

If they were to shorten the regular season though, I do not see a problem with making the Wild Card a best-of-three series to actually enter the MLB Postseason. Beyond that round, the Division Series and the Championship Series would still take place as it is now. The ALDS/NLDS being a best-of-five series, and the ALCS/NLCS a best-of-seven to get to the World Series.

This is how 2019 would have looked with the modified playoff structure:

1st Round Byes: Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves

2019 AL Wild Card Round: Minnesota Twins vs Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s vs Tampa Bay Rays

2019 Wild Card Round: St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Mets, Washington Nationals vs Milwaukee Brewers

*162-game season would make these 1-game, 125-game season would make these Best-of-3

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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