Opinion

That’s ‘Madam Commissioner’ to you

Story originally appeared in the Daily Californian on Oct. 7, 2013.

Now that Bud Selig is finally stepping down as commissioner of Major League Baseball, he is leaving behind a sport that is being watched less than football and even basketball. It’s time to find an innovative and forceful replacement.

That would be me.

First of all, it’s time a woman held the job — and a young one, at that. Baseball has been run for too long by a bunch of old men who don’t ever seem to be in step with what the public wants.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: She’s just some random college student. Well, first of all, I’ll have you know that, when I was 7, I was the star shortstop for my T-ball team and got the nickname “Sluggin’ Shannon.” I’ve got good hand-eye coordination (seriously, you want to be on my team for any fraternity party games), and I do NOT throw like a girl.

In case those qualifications don’t wow you, here is the platform I’d pursue as commissioner:

—I’d speed up the game. I love baseball, but who wants to sit around and watch a game that lasts more than three hours?  A 2013 Wall Street Journal study found that a three-hour game has only about 18 minutes of actual action. In the early days, a baseball game took about an hour, and we need to head back in that direction. So, pitchers can’t routinely take 30 seconds or more between pitches. (I’m looking at you, Jonathan Papelbon).

We get that baseball is a mental game, but seriously. If a pitcher wants to stand there and stare at the batter for so long, why don’t they just get a room?

What the game needs is a clock. Maybe I’d decide any pitcher who takes more than 20 seconds between pitches has that pitch called a ball. Maybe I’d be more generous and take an average over a whole inning, and any pitcher who is above 20 seconds per pitch would start the next inning with a 1-0 count.

—I’d also bring in instant replay in a big way. I’m all for tradition, but when the tradition is to have bad calls determine the outcome of games, I say tradition has to go. Human sacrifice was a tradition in certain cultures for centuries, but that doesn’t mean we need to stick with it forever. Even cricket and racewalking have instant replay systems; baseball will survive their use.

—That designated hitter rule? I’d get rid of it. If a guy can’t field, he should retire or go play another sport. In baseball, a five-tool player — someone who can hit for average, hit for power, has good speed and baserunning ability, has a good arm and is a good fielder — is considered the ideal.

Beyond my official platform, it’s not that I’d be power mad or anything — certainly not anything like Selig has been — but hey, if you’re going to be commissioner, you might as well enjoy some of the perks. So, I’d declare that, once a game, Giants outfielder Hunter Pence would get to start an at-bat with a 1-0 count. Why? Because he’s Hunter Pence.

Oh, and the Yankees have to start every season at 0-5. Why? Because they’re the Yankees. The Dodgers never get to make the playoffs — and you don’t even need to ask why.

While we’re at it, I’d bring back the high-sock look. It’s just too cool.

So, Mr. Whoever Hires the Next Commissioner, I’m officially tossing my name in that hat. I don’t even need Selig’s full salary of $18.4 million a year. As a college student, I could probably get by on 10 percent of that. Maybe we’d just round up to an even $2 million.

While we’re at it, let’s start working on making me the Commissioner of Any and All Sports. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

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