No no no, not that kind of fixing, the scary Black Sox scandal kind. You know, fix = improve. Tom Verducci has several ideas in his Sports Illustrated cover story this week. Buster Olney has weighed in, arguing for a warm, neutral site. Several local writers demanded a shorter baseball season.

I wrote about the subject too, in my Metro column last week, arguing that the problem is really with awful baseball coverage that fails to engage fans. I got a fair amount of mail in response, and this week’s column is going to be a mailbag of sorts. But before I hand in the final copy, I wanted to check in with my good UmpBumpers and see what you guys think. What changes would result in a better (e.g., more-watched, more interesting) World Series?

17 Responses to “How Would You Fix the World Series?”

  1. 1.) Schedule an additional week’s worth of double headers throughout the regular season to move the World Series into the earlier parts of October.
    2.) Start the games earlier in the evening. Night games during the regular season start at 7. Why then do World Series games start at 8:30? Does that somehow make it more special? This is one of the biggest problems with the WS. Night games should start at 7, end of story.
    3.) Have MLB pressure Fox to get different broadcasters. I’ve never met anyone who thought Buck-McCarver was a decent duo; not online and not in person, and believe me, I’ve asked a lot of people.
    4.) ESPN routinely ignores the World Series because neither it nor ABC broadcasts any of the games. Either pressure ESPN to cover the World Series properly, or move the Series to ABC.

  2. Kirk Miller says:

    Verducci makes a good point about requiring new stadiums to be built with retractable roofs. I’ve been in Safeco field during a game in which the roof had to be closed after the start of the game. It sure was nice to see the end of the game, and not have to walk away wet and unsatified.

    Sarah, you also make a good point about the suckiness of television baseball coverage being part of the reason for low ratings. Here’s an interesting idea, why not let each team’s local broadcast announcers call the games for the national broadcast at their home parks? The home team’s fans would love it, the away teams would hate it, but that would be part of the appeal. I think it would build be way more interesting to listen to guys who have known these players all season long rather than the boring Fox dudes.

    As for Buster Olney’s ideas…I couldn’t read them because I am not an “Insider”; which is a big reason why I stopped even going to ESPN’s website anymore.

  3. I just read your Metro article, and I agree with all of your points.

    Nate Silver encapsulates your point about the level of coverage baseball in the media. Nate created PECOTA, a revolutionary method of player analysis. It is embraced by the SABR community – but SABR is all but universally mocked in the mainstream press (although, gaining acceptance).

    Nate is gaining popularity for his election analysis, but not baseball. He brings the same intelligence he brings to baseball analysis to politics. I have not seen Nate on ESPN Baseball Tonight – but he has been on “The Colbert Report.”

    Baseball is a great game, but it suffers from a fractious ownership. If you haven’t read “Lord of the Realm” – you must. Baseball has fought the notion that it could be a “national” game since the days of radio. It took Ted Turner to show the owners that their teams could sustain a national interest in the 80’s, and little progress has been made in 20 years.

    There are a few encouraging signs:

    – Fox will probably kill the World Series, and drive it off to Vs or the MLB network (this point was made by a friend of mine – not me). This should make the coverage more “real fan” focused.

    – The MLB network is at long last launching, which might should increase interest in baseball. At minimum, it will let MLB control the brand instead of Fox.

    – Tim McCarver ain’t getting any younger

    I’m a Phillies fan – and I think it’s absurd some want the Series held at a neutral site. One interruption in a hundred years is pretty good. It wasn’t that big of a deal – it rained – it happens. I’d hate to see how these guys react to their kids softball game getting rained out. That’s life.

    The sinking ratings, that is a problem, but one that can be solved by highlighting what has kept it in the national interest since the mid 1800’s, and not treating it like it is on life support.

  4. Kirk, while I’d love all stadiums to have retractable roofs, I don’t think it’s possible. You already have teams – even the Yankees and Mets – claiming that they can’t build new stadiums without government assistance. Tack on an additional $100MM plus for these roofs and it gets considerably worse.

    And Verducci’s assertion that these new buildings will have a lifespan of 50-80 years neglects the fact that team owners don’t go by stadium lifespans. They go by profitability. If it’s more profitable to build a new stadium, that’s what they do. Has nothing to do with this 50-80 year figure.

    Besides, how many parks today fall within that range? In 2009, we’ll have Fenway, Wrigley, and… Well, that’s it. Dodger Stadium isn’t quite there yet.

  5. I am against the neutral site idea. I don’t think it’s practical for seven games at a neutral site as far as fans traveling to the site and having the same kind of enthusiasm as a game with home field advantage. It’s unfair to the fans to lose those games in their home stadiums.
    If they started the season a week earlier and held all the games in warm climates or domes it would keep the playoffs from running so late into October. Even if they don’t begin the season earlier they should still have at least the first two series for teams be in climate controlled settings.
    They should also eliminate the days off between games during the playoffs to shorten the length of each series. It would also make teams use pitchers that they had to use to get to the playoffs.
    MLB has to do more to market players that aren’t in the major markets. The casual baseball fan might be more interested in watching Tampa if they had heard more about Longoria and Upton during the season. When ESPN is talking about the Yankees, Mets and Red Sox all season long people aren’t as interested when 2 of the 3 don’t even reach the post season.
    I don’t know if it had an impact on viewer interest but this World Series demonstrated that they need to find a way to improve the umpiring. I know that during the season I witnessed consistently bad umpiring and that continued into the playoffs this season. I do think that tends to turn viewers off in general.
    Fox is awful and they seem to think they should present a baseball game the same way they do football. They have loud obnoxious graphics that don’t seem to fit the pace of a baseball game. It’s almost like they are trying too hard to make the game more “exciting.” I think the game itself should be allowed to create the excitement. It also doesn’t help to have TBS presenting games like it’s amateur hour.

  6. Coley Ward says:

    The other problem with the whole “require new parks to have retractable roofs” idea is that, as Rob Neyer points out, you’re not going to see a whole lot of new stadiums built in the next 15 years. So that’s a solution that won’t help in the short term.

  7. Coley Ward says:

    I’d like to see the teams play more double headers, so the season could end earlier.

  8. Coley, I always feel badly for the players after doubleheaders (cue the “don’t feel badly, they make millions” chorus). One game of baseball played under a hot summer sun is really, really, really tiring. Forcing them to play two is torture. Plus, that means that the star players will get benched more often.

  9. Coley Ward says:

    Paul, playing baseball under a hot summer sun is tiring, but it’s not like they’re running a marathon or anything. Plus, if it’s a day/night doubleheader, the players have the chance to shower, nap, grab a bite to eat. I mean, come on. It’s not that bad.

  10. Kirk Miller says:

    If owners can afford to pay players like Barry Zito $100 million plus, then they can afford a roof when a new stadium is built. Granted, this idea does nothing for the short term, but still, it’s something to consider moving forward. Seems to me a roof would bring greater long term benefits than Barry Zito.

  11. Sarah Green says:

    I would love to see them bring back the single-entry doubleheader. C’mon gang, LET’S PLAY TWO!

    And for those of you who are not “insiders”–sorry. Olney basically argues for a neutral, warm-weather site and lots and lots of promotional gimmicks like celebrity charity golf tournaments.

  12. Sarah Green says:

    Oh, and I don’t know about the retractable roof thing. As much as I hate schlepping down to Fenway in the pouring rain when I know — I just KNOW — the game is going to be called off after a two-hour rain delay that lets them sell out of Fenway franks and clam chowder, there’s just something about the element of, well, the elements. Wouldn’t football be boring if they all played in domes? Isn’t the same true of baseball??

  13. Single entry doubleheaders cut their stadium revenue in half.

    And players are signed to huge contracts because they’re considered revenue generators. In the case of Zito, obviously, it was dumb and a poor investment. But that’s the thinking. Retractable roofs don’t really generate revenue. At least, none that I’ve seen.

  14. Sarah Green says:

    I didn’t say they actually would bring the single-entry doubleheader back. I think they’d sooner let women play, or build a stadium on the moon, or make Carl Pavano give the Yankees back their money. But still, a girl can dream.

  15. Kirk Miller says:

    If there’s a chance of rain, some baseball fans may decide to skip going to a game. However if there is a retractable roof the possibility of bad weather shouldn’t enter into their decision. This is one, small way that a roof may be a revenue generator. There are other benefits that are not tied to revenue generation that should be taken into consideration as well, like fewer make-up double headers and weird side-trips inserted into the season. Jet fuel ain’t cheap.

    And, really, I understand what you are saying Paul. Requiring roofs would be impracticable, and all that, but where they are in place I do think they benefit the teams. I do think that moving forward new stadiums should at least strongly consider them, especially in areas that have a history of more than a handful of rainouts, or snowouts.

  16. Anyone who suggests the World Series be held at a neutral site should be gutted like the pigs they are.

    Now, having the home team’s broadcasters call the World Series…now THAT’S a novel idea I could warm up to. Though, I don’t know how good most teams broadcasters are: It’d be great if there were a Phillies-Orioles World Series but would make me want to kill myself if it was the White Sox or Yankees.

  17. Coley Ward says:

    I was arguing for day/night double headers. And what’s wrong with that? Owners get all their money. Players get to take a break in between games. The season is over earlier. Everybody wins.

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