- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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I personally find baseball so crushingly boring I would happily plunge knitting needles into my eyes to avoid another snap zoom of Joe Torre's nostril hairs.
But my buddies like it, so I sit and watch with them. And bitch.
"Why do all these ballparks have to be so precious?" I was opining the other night. "You take Houston's. Why does it have a rise in centerfield for no apparent reason? Why is there a train running along the fence? Any chance we could stick the architect under it? Why is the outfield wall in San Francisco made of five different substances and at five different heights? What is this, pachinko? I mean, if I were commissioner … "
And that's when my buddy spun around on me, red-faced, and yelled, "Tell you what! I hope you do end up commissioner! But until then, just shut up and watch the game!!!"
I was shocked into silence. Because I realized, "He thinks I could be commish!"
And so, I am hereby announcing my candidacy. Bud Selig is, what, 108? And here are the things I'll change before I even hang my coat on the door peg:
1) We'll put in a pitch clock. The reason baseball is slower than cold honey tipped over is that there's no clock when men are on base. You get 10 seconds to shoot a free throw. Golf penalizes you for taking more than 40 seconds over a shot. A chair umpire takes a point from a player who uses more than 25 seconds to serve after a dead ball. But umps let hitters step out of the box to readjust their socks, belts, sleeves, gloves, jerseys and helmets -- after a ball! They let pitchers fuss endlessly with their rosin bags, the rubber and their eternally askew cups, while we fans decide which of our peanuts resemble presidents.
But with my 15-second pitch clock, we get the hitter in the box, the pitcher on the mound and everybody in their homes by 10 p.m. We get two-hour-15-minute games instead of four-hour sunburns. We get World Series games that kids can see end. And not a dime of ad money is lost!
2) Once a week, every player signs autographs for 10 minutes by the dugout. Don't tell me you're too busy, Mr. Seven-Car Garage. I've seen you elbows-deep in the clubhouse porn stash.
3) We'll bring in Olympic testing. Saying "baseball players cheat" is like saying "wolves like hamburger." In the Small-Balls era, nobody -- not the players, not the owners, not the writers -- tried to stop it. Where were all these books when we needed them? But when I bring in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) -- and let it test anytime, road or home -- we'll finally see who's faker than Octomom's lips.
4) If you're 0-for-4, the crowd picks your at-bat music. Is it my fault if they choose "Nothing From Nothing" by Billy Preston?
5) The National League will get the DH. No more pitchers swinging a bat at a ball the way Paris Hilton swings a shovel at a moth.
6) We'll fine more players. The NFL fines guys $5,000 for not having their socks right. Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin got a $25,000 fine for shoving a guy. But often, Selig yawns when pitchers throw 95 mph retaliation beanballs. You want to brain a guy just because he stood in the box after his moon shot? Okay. We'll fine you until your kids end up in public school.
7) Umps will be in charge of rainouts year round, not the home team. I'm sick of seeing a full house soak for two hours 59 minutes waiting for the manager to get word from his owner to call it, just because the greedball wants to sell more $9 beers. We'll put Double Doppler 9000 in the umps' room, and they'll decide in under an hour.
8) Balls that hit the foul pole are foul. Duh.
9) A prospect won't be allowed to enter an MLB farm system until he's the age of a college sophomore, just like in the NBA. Over the years, I've noticed most baseball players are dumber than toe lint. This is because many of them report to the minors even before graduating high school. In 2004, ex-Cubs ace Mark Prior told USC's business school that he heard he was "one of only 17 current major leaguers with a college degree." That stat can be matched only in the American janitorial industry. My plan will bring in players who enjoy reading something other than Garfield Out to Lunch.
10) And most important, if you're the dweeb fan on your cell behind home plate waving at the camera, the rest of your section gets to pour beer down your shorts.
Now shut up and watch the game.
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Here's my solution for fixing baseball: put me in charge.