February 2016

Global Draft, Changes to Signing Pools, Qualifying Offers Part of Ten Point Draft Makeover

The key to any successful long term winning effort more than ever in today’s MLB depends on a quality player development program. Teams rely heavily on the domestic draft and international scouting to infuse the pipeline with young talent that will eventually play in the big leagues. As we all know, baseball has tried to level the playing field, with caps in place on how much a team spends internationally and within the domestic draft. Both procedures have their good and bad qualities and what follows is the New Deal plan to improve this process.

One of the big complaints is that the penalty for exceeding the international spending limits, the inability to sign players for more than 300 thousand dollars during the next 1 or 2 seasons has proven to be no deterrent. Teams that go over the amount are not impeded from spending huge sums of money once the limit has been exceeded, think of it as a credit limit of 5 thousand dollars to spend. Nothing exists to stop you from taking it to 10, 20, 50 thousand over the limit, other than your own budget. So if you can afford the large fee that comes with blowing through the limit, what good does the limit serve in the first place? The penalty for going over by 15% is no more severe than the penalty for going over by 150%. IN addition, teams can certainly load up on lower cost prospects and a team that hits on one player out of 10 signed for 300K each will still reap a true benefit even when the 300K contract caps are enforced for the following one or two seasons, because the international pools do not go away, just the size of how big your contract offers are to those prospects.

Second is the issue concerning the draft caps, the draft slots teams value much more greatly. They have not shown any willingness to blow through the draft budget for fear of losing a first round pick, even though teams will gladly give up that same pick for an aging free agent. These players in theory may offer more in terms of a known quality but less future upside, as opposed to over spending for more prospects who are unknown beyond their amateur ability, even if the ceiling is higher. The major problem with the system as many have documented, is the incentive to lose as much as possible. When only two or three teams take this approach, the reward is huge because the value of the top three picks is so much greater. IN 2015, the difference between pick #1 and pick #4 was around 3 million bucks, the difference between picks 5 and 20 was half that. So in a season like 2016 with the Reds, Brewers, Phillies, and Braves all clearly playing for the future, plus other weak teams like the Athletics, Rockies, and Padres in the running for those worst records, how well a team does may depend less on its luck of the draft order from 1-5, and more with how much money it can allocate to the obtaining of top talent. This was how the Astros, who had a huge hall of money due to a pair of top five picks, were able to get three players viewed as top 10 talents, by paying under slot value on two of them and then going well over the assigned value with their first pick in the second round.

I have many solutions that I believe MLB and the players should all consider as part of the next CBA to solve these issues. Before I go down the list of changes, lets first be clear on this point, one worldwide draft. OK, many will say it can’t happen, here is how it can. First, the Major League Baseball Players Association has by its own design not represented minor league or amateur players, so MLB is governed not by what MLBPA wants, but rather by the laws of the US and Canada with respect to employment and immigration of foreign players. Now with that out of the way, my 10 point plan that changes the MLB draft.

1, move the draft to the Wednesday through Friday during the week of the College World Series. The third and decisive game could be played on that Wednesday evening and prior to that game, the first round of the draft takes place. Rounds 2-20 would be on Thursday, 21-40 on Friday.

2, have regional draft combines to evaluate the health of players. Offer 10 of them around the US, including one in Hawaii. Offer three in Canada, one each in Mexico, Japan, Australia, two in Europe, and one in South Africa. Participation would not be mandatory but MLB should take a page from the NFL so that Brady Aiken 2.0 can be easier to avoid.

3, With one combined draft, the pools for international and domestic players would be combined into one and teams would be able to spend more freely on who they believe is the best player. The pools would be less extreme in the difference of total dollars, the average combined international and domestic draft pools for top 10 picks in 2015 was just over 10,270,000, with over 70% of this focused on the domestic draft. However, the Astros had over 17 million in the draft pool, the Mets had less than 4 million, while international allotments ranged from just under 2 million for the Nationals and Angels, to over 5 million for the Diamondbacks. Rather than have a slot value system that starts very steep in its decline before leveling off, the slope down the curve if you will should be more gradual. I would propose a pool of 12 million for the worst team, 8 million for the best team, even if first round picks are lost. This would encourage teams to spend more in the free agent market, as they would lose just draft picks, not money with which to also sign them when dealing with those players tied to qualifying offers. Teams that went over their draft pool would face the loss of future draft picks which would be awarded via lottery to other teams. the best team in terms of win-loss record that did not qualify for postseason would have the best lottery odds for this type of pick, with odds decreasing as win percentage decreased. The key here is the overall draft pool, not the assigned slot value, so a team with a pool of 12 million could in affect spend 10 million on its first pick if it so chose. But if that team went over its pool by a single dollar up to 2.5%, it would lose a second round pick in the next draft. Go over from 2.5 to 5.0%, it would lose an additional first round pick, again those picks then going into a lottery as just described. Going over from 5 to 10% would result in the loss of picks in both the first and second round in the next two drafts, and going more than 10% over the pool would result in the loss of first through third round picks in the next two drafts.

4, change the draft eligibility rules so that they are uniform. If a player goes to a junior college, he must complete 2 years of schooling before being able to appear again in the draft, players who go to a four-year university maintain the current rules, accept they apply in a uniform manner to all colleges and universities in the united States or Canada, with the player having to complete three years of college eligibility, or be 21 on June 1 the year of the draft. For all players from any corner of the globe not in college, they must have completed high school or received an equivalent diploma, or turned age 18 by June 1 the year of the draft. Players not graduating high school must be 18 by June 1 to be draft eligible, those graduating high school or receiving the equivalent diploma can be drafted no younger than age 17, with the 17th birthday no later than June 1 of that year’s draft.

5, Drafting players from nations with pro leagues, Japan, Cuba, south Korea as examples. Any player not from the United States or Canada who has a proof of current contract to a foreign league can be drafted by an MLB team and his draft rights maintained until age 28. A 19 year old player from japan would thus have his MLB draft rights held by an organization until age 28, with those rights expiring on the 28th birthday of the player. The players MLB salary would be structured like that of other MLB players, accept that if he does not come to an MLB team until age 25 or later, his first year salary would be based on the average of all players his age on opening day rosters from the previous season. This formula would govern the first three years of salary with standard arbitration and other rules taking effect as normally scheduled for all MLB players. MLB teams would be allowed to buy out the contract of the player from the foreign league, while paying a posting or transfer fee to the foreign league or team. Foreign players who were not under contract to another pro league at the time of the draft would have their MLB draft rights held until age 24. After the 24th birthday, the player if not part of an existing foreign professional league would be an undrafted free agent who would be free to sign with the team of his choosing but only for the MLB minimum taking a 40-man roster spot, or to a minor league contract with the signing bonus then counted against the draft pool for the year in which the player is signed. Players age 28 or older signing as free agents would be treated like MLB free agents, in that they would be signed for however much the club feels the player is worth, accept the contract would be no longer than 6 years in length and players age 28 or older could not sign to contracts from the minor leagues and draft bonus pools. Players returning from MLB to their foreign league would have their MLB contract bought out by the foreign league in question and they would have to wait one calendar year before returning to an MLB roster.

6, Trading draft picks and draft rights. Teams who owned draft rights to an international player outside the United States and Canada would be able to trade those rights like any other future draft pick to another organization as part of a trade to obtain MLB talent. Draft picks and draft rights to international players could not be used as a player to be named later and they could not be offered in a deal involving only players not on a 40-man roster. A team trading such a pick must be receiving at least one player on another teams 40-man roster. If three or more teams are involved, the player rights or draft picks being sent away do not have to go to the same team that is the source for the obtained player to meet the 40-man roster requirement. Lastly, teams could trade no more than the rights to three picks from any single draft that they have obtained, even if additional picks were granted through lottery, compensation or trades. Example, Nationals trade draft rights to the Brewers, Nationals must get a player from the 40-man roster of the Brewers or from another organization if a third team, such as the mariners were involved.

7, Qualifying offers and compensation picks would change. The qualifying offer would be the average of the top 100 salaries among all players in MLB and the qualifying offer would be good for a two-year contract if accepted by the player. Compensation for qualifying offers would be modified, so that the first four players signed would result in the loss of a second round pick, all others would result in the loss of a third round pick. All first round picks would be protected going forward.

8, The order of draft picks would change so that the top 20 teams who did not make the playoffs would draft in the inverse order of their win-loss record from the previous MLB season. Picks 21-22 would go to the two teams who lose the wild Card game in inverse order of win-loss record. Using a similar formula, picks 23-26 would go to the four losers of the division series, picks 27-28 to the two losers of the League Championship Series, pick 29 to the World Series loser and pick 30 to the World Series winner.

9, Draft pool totals. The worst team would be allotted a total draft pool of 12,000,000, the best team would be awarded 8 million. The difference from positions 1-6 would be a drop of 200K per slot with the 6th position in terms of pool rankings worth 11 million. After position 6, starting with the 7th through 30th positions, the drop would be 125K per placement, so that the 7th position would be worth a pool of 10.875 million and the 14th position worth 10 million. Positions 15-22 would be from 9.875 to 9 million, while positions 23-30 would range from 8.875 to 8 million in terms of the total draft pool value. A draft pool lottery could also be put in place for pool positions 1-14, so that the worst team is not guaranteed the top pool of 12 million but it is guaranteed a pool of at least 10 million. If MLB expanded to 32 teams, the slope downward in pool totals would be slightly adjusted for picks 15-32.

10, additional picks. Two rounds of six draft picks each, one between rounds 1-2 and one between rounds 2-3 would be held. The first round would be for teams that missed the playoffs for each of the previous two seasons, with the order of draft picks based on best to worst combined overall winning percentage, think of it as a way to reward teams who tried and missed out rather than tanking on purpose. So based on 2014-2015, the Mariners, Twins, White Sox, Indians, Red Sox, Rays, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Reds, Brewers, Phillies, Marlins and Braves would be in the running for those picks. The second set of six picks would be based on the current MLB competitive balance lottery.

IN conclusion, I believe that one combined draft is the way to go forward, with many changes needed both in terms of how bonus pools and compensation are dealt with. I believe that current players are being harmed by the system as teams don’t want to lose the ability to obtain current amateurs by losing highly valued draft picks and the dollars tied to them. It removes the incentive for thugs to smuggle players like they were cocaine in return for huge sums of the players professional contract. It rewards teams who scout well in all corners of the globe and it does not guarantee teams that lose on purpose will obtain the best drafting slots. I’m not Tony Clark or Rob Manfred, but maybe this serves as a blueprint for what a future MLB draft looks like.

MLB Has Significant Social Responsibility Opportunity to Promote True Accessibility for Disabled, Blind in Particular

As a person who is blind and who has loved sports since I was 10 years old, I always knew that my ability to participate in such events would be limited. That did not mean I could not find joy in sports in my own way. Adapted games like beep baseball were fun and I would also play my own modified version of the sport with a friend one on one. He would get his turns at bat against me as a pitcher, I’d take mine some times against him, sometimes using a technique where I threw the ball with one hand in the air, then took a swing with one or two hands holding the bat, while the friend was in the field of play. Similar slight modifications were made in my other favorite one on one sport, basketball. Nothing is more thrilling than hitting a long jump shot from beyond the 3 point line, even when you can’t see the goal, because you here the swish as the ball goes nothing but net.

Accessibility to other items in life has proven to be a bit more of a challenge in our ever increasing digital world. My first employer was a cable and internet service provider after college, where I worked in the call center and then took a promotion to an account coordinator position. But then one day the systems were upgraded and suddenly our database that was used for everything from managing billing and technical systems, to scheduling trouble tickets and the like became inaccessible. Weeks later I was out of a job and while they said it was a budget cut, I knew the reason, but in a state with no union laws, it would be my word against their word. Over the years since that first bitter pill in 2002, I had several interviews that ended up not working out because of software issues. Fidelity Investments literally wanted to hire me in 2006 but they said we can’t make you an offer because we don’t know if you can do the job. Translation, they knew I could not do the job only because of their half ass designed software that was used by their organization. If they doubted my ability to work for them, I would not have received the offer to work and gone through the software testing phase in the first place.

IN March 2007 seeking a new direction, I was accepted to grad school, where I began working on my master’s in education, a focus in student affairs. I wrote the guy at Fidelity and said that I was going back to grad school and that they could take their job somewhere else. I told them that they should be happy I was going to the classroom, for my other option was to consider a court room instead.

Since finishing my masters, getting employment has been somewhat easier, but today massive inaccessibility still exists. Many companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies use many computer software programs to operate on a daily basis, no matter the job title or rank, an employee has to use these many systems. Often, at least one or more of these computing systems has some or total inaccessibility and thus workers are denied employment. A case was recently allowed to proceed last year when a county in Maryland lost in court, after it claimed it would be too cost prohibitive to upgrade its new system to make it accessible, even though the same system replaced outdated yet accessible technology that was much more expensive to maintain and operate. Often though, these choices are made based on pure dollars with no forethought that a person needing a different way of accessing the system would come along.

Even in higher education it is a huge problem, with a variety of systems in place today on college campuses where I work, that are somewhat if not entirely lacking accessibility.

While government guidelines exist that say how a building must be designed to meet ADA requirements in terms of physical mobility for those using wheel chairs, walkers and other devices, and while rules exist laying out how interior signage is displayed so that the blind can read it for instance, the rules don’t exist for exterior signage and technology. So when walking around a campus with many buildings, the blind person cannot walk up to the door and literally get a feel for what building he or she is entering. Similarly at stadiums and arenas, no signage is available in Braille that says what section a fan is entering and no Braille is on the small metal plates that are fixed to stadium seats, indicating the location in the stadium that the fan is sitting in. I found this to be true at every game of my 30 ballpark, 30 day tour in 2012. As for technology, many of today’s websites present major accessibility hurtles for the blind user like me, many desktop applications for sale to the general public lack this as well. Only the Apple products with onboard Voiceover technology are largely accessible, but even here a lot of the third party apps have issues.

Some examples of in inaccessible web content include, the use of CAPTCHA with no audio (The boxes that want you to enter the letters and numbers displayed in an image to prove you are a real person). Many buttons on flash oriented features have no labeled button that tells the screen reader what you are about to press, as all buttons on the player just show as button, button, button, rather than stop, play, rewind, Etc. many sites have links that say click here, rather than the name of what they actually represent and so you have to guess as to what the click here references. Then there are those sites that present a list of options but none are accessible to the screen reader because they have not been designed as a button or link that the screen reader can actually focus on. The key to all this, blind people will not now, nor will they ever in the future use a mouse. So web and application designers must use an approach that allows for the use of other input methods, including voice response and keyboards.

So why is your baseball blogger writing about this very non-baseball topic. It is because Major League Baseball is in a unique position with a very important responsibility. MLB through its diversity and inclusion programs has an opportunity to display to the world the best practices when it comes to all aspects of accessibility. This means it could hire someone who is blind or has a related disability as an accessibility expert, to make sure the league is fully accessible to all its customers both virtually on its websites and literally in the ballparks. Further, this puts MLB in a position to be a leader in the business community and brings a very public voice and recognized brand that could lobby for Federal legislation that strengthens ADA technology guidelines and provides more opportunities for the blind in the work place. Have you ever tried to buy a new TV or other device and set it up as a blind person? Good luck.

Why does all this matter? We have a social responsibility and a moral obligation to do the right thing. We cannot be the most free nation in the world if we do not remove barriers that limit the right of certain citizens to work. Furthermore, we reduce the demand on the government, as many blind people who currently live on social security disability checks would now have a real job with real income and it would allow for a greater contribution for all too the greater good of our society. Finally, it allows MLB to bridge the gap that exists between the blind and sited worlds, teaching the blind that yes we must live and operate in a sited world, while teaching the sited that it is in the best interest of everyone to solve these major problems that truly do limit opportunity for this small population of often overlooked American citizens.

Is Baseball Prepared for a “Walking Dead” Apocalypse?

Happy Valentine’s Baseball lovers. Tonight is the second half of the current season of “The Walking Dead” and while it is far from my type of entertainment, I’m personally all too familiar with the storylines because my wife like so many American’s finds it more interesting than politics, the news, or other more pressing subjects. So much of what is presented at least in the view of this writer is an overhyped and overblown focus on a postapocalyptical world where everything has been destroyed by some horrible event, be it man made or nature’s doing or some out of world alien/zombie created circumstance and the few survivors fight for what is left in a tribal like society.

What I present may seem a tad apocalyptical but based on past baseball history and current trends, it could become a stark reality that dramatically alters the sports and baseball landscape over the next 20-40 years. God willing, I’ll still be alive at age 82 in 2056 with spring training upon us, but will baseball look anything like it does today, will any major sports league? Below, I present some of the potential pitfalls that await MLB and its pro sports partners in the NFL, NBA and NHL, and the question is, what will they do to prepare for the end of the sports world as they know it?

Walkers are coming from all around to eat up the sports landscape. From the west, a group of walkers is carrying signs that state in very harsh language that government funding is dead, sports leagues must make it on their own. The owners are running in circles with no idea how to resolve this conflict. They don’t want to admit that society finally grew tired of their endless begging for corporate welfare, which asked for public money to build new stadiums and arenas to replace the ones that were built just 15-30 years ago. The last round of the sports building boom, everyone was told that to compete and field a winning team, the club had to have the latest, greatest state of the art facility. Build it, we win championships and contend every year for the opportunity to win more. Don’t build it, we leave. NO one stopped and realized, there are 30 teams in MLB, so if every team won just one single championship, it would take 30 years for every team to get its title, meaning it was nearly a stone cold lock that several MLB teams would not see a championship and might not even make it to the World Series during the same 30 year or shorter term for said stadium lease. The White Sox, Giants, Astros, Padres, Marlins, Rays, Athletics, Twins, Pirates, Mariners, all made the I’m leaving threat in baseball and the Expos eventually did leave. IN the NFL, the Rams have made good on the threat twice, the chargers and Raiders both could potentially join the Rams on that have done it twice list, while the Saints, Jaguars, Colts, Bills, Vikings, Seahawks, and buccaneers, have had or are currently making the same threat to government officials, while the Colts and Cardinals, and old Houston Oilers made good on the threat. IN the NBA, the Kings and Bucks are the latest teams to make the threat and get a new building, those two had brand new arenas in 1988, while the Hornets, Heat, and Magic which all got new buildings at the same time as new expansion teams all have since moved into new buildings that replaced those original new homes. The Grizzlies had a new home in 1995 and moved six years later, getting a second new building in 2004, while the Supersonics moved and became the Thunder in 2008. Similar arena threats were put out by the Rockets, Spurs, and pacers that got new buildings put up between 1999 and 2003, while other multiple sports cities, Dallas, Denver, and Chicago opened new facilities between 1994 and 2001. IN the case of Dallas, the new arena was replacing a building just 21 years of age that now no longer exists, Reunion Arena. Miami may be the most gross case here, because the new Miami arena that opened in 1988 was used to get both the expansion Heat in the NBA that year and the Panthers NHL team in 1993. It was built specifically for both sports. Yet by 1996 both teams were asking for new buildings, they each got one that they call home, the Panthers in 1998, the Heat a year later. The original Miami Arena was used sparingly until it was brought down less than 20 years before its first NBA game. Meanwhile, in the NHL, the Senators want a new arena, the current facility this 1992 Ottawa expansion franchise called home opened in 1996. The Red wings are getting a new building of their own, largely paid for by local public dollars in a city and state that is bleeding red ink, even though the owner could easily spend enough of his money to build the whole thing and still have billions left over. Talk about welfare, but of course when it is the owner of Little Caesar’s Pizza, the Tigers and Red Wings, that is somehow OK, but it is horrible when we give well fare to a 19 year old pregnant girl who is on her own with no family to turn too? Every arena used by NBA and NHL teams today not named Madison Square Garden and Oracle Arena is younger than Jennifer Hudson, younger than Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira. Remember the Warriors are getting a new building unless things fall apart in San Francisco, scheduled to open by 2018. Only six MLB stadiums are older, Wrigley which is getting remodeled, Fenway which has had upgrades, Kaufman which received a new round of upgrades on the public tab in 2006, Dodger Stadium and yes, that ballpark urrrr stadium in Oakland; Angel Stadium went through a pair of major upgrades, one to add football in 1979 and one to undo that change and update the baseball only feel in 1997. IN the NFL, the only older venues that predate Jennifer and Mark are Lambeau Field and Soldier Field (both which had a major makeover and upgrade in 2002-03), Arrowhead Stadium, Rich Stadium, that stadium again in Oakland, the temporary home the Rams are moving to at Los Angeles Coliseum which had no NFL team since the Raiders left in 1995, QUALCOMM Stadium in San Diego and the new Orleans Super Dome which has had its share of upgrades and repairs. The Falcons like several NBA teams got a new facility that opened the year Bill Clinton was elected to his first term in office, only to have it torn down potentially in the first year of another Clinton administration 25 years later in 2017. The Dolphins again as we point fingers at greater Miami moved to a facility built in 1987 for them and to get what would become the marlins. Almost immediately, the Marlins wanted out when it rained too much before baseball games to keep fans coming, hey Miami has always been that way, and now the Dolphins want upgrades or a new facility.

How do owners then fund new palaces to play in you ask? Well that depends on where else they can reach out with buckets in hand begging for private money to build the new stadiums. The public money is all gone, being used to build much more needed and much more outdated public works items such as electrical grids, water and sewer lines, replacing old gas pipes that keep exploding, and upgrading the telecommunications utilities. But there is another problem, walkers coming from the east, with signs featuring more stark language. Your cable TV money is gone, never to return. Here, we see another problem that takes us back in time while also developing on the horizon like a hurricane 1000 miles out in the Atlantic. We know damage could be done, we don’t know where or to what extent, but we know it is coming. IN this case, let’s think back to 1988 and the announcement that CBS had paid massive media rights fees to MLB. Teams were spending money on players left and right with this new found wealth of TV dollars. Yet in 1994, that CBS deal was gone and the new package was not nearly as lush with free greenbacks. Since MLB is not the treasury, it could not issue its own money and had to cut back. Baseball’s best season was ruined by a player strike, but the owners had just as much to do with it. Instead of using some of that TV money to build and update stadiums, owners bid against themselves and overpaid players, then begged for a salary cap to keep their fellow owners from spending too much on player contracts. We all know how that ended. But now fast forward to 2016, many teams have recently entered into or are just now starting new TV contracts with massive payouts from regional sports networks that are operated by and owned by divisions of the major cable and satellite TV companies. ESPN, Fox and TBS also are in the middle of huge contracts that pay very high rights fees to MLB through the 2021 season. But by 2021, it could be painfully apparent that baseball will need to come up with new revenue sources. The problem is simple, many people especially younger folks are ditching cable and satellite TV for on demand internet programming and who can blame them, a new trend known as chord cutting. Our own Time Warner bill has gone up almost 25 dollars in the last year, most of that in extra fees including a 6 dollar sports channel use fee. TWC and the other providers like Comcast, DirecTV and Dish will say that ESPN is to blame because of the high fees it demands for carriage over these systems. That has some truth to it, but look at how much money these same cable companies have sank into local TV rights contracts for teams in MLB< the NBA and NHL. The NFL largely dodges this issue because most of its games are still on over the air TV, something that is almost unheard of these days with the other leagues. This also does not even take into consideration the huge amount of money promised to college athletics, mainly in the form of NCAA football and men’s basketball at the division I level, viewed by many including myself as nothing more than university sponsored minor leagues. As more and more customers drop 180 to 200 dollar a month cable bills for on demand internet programs where they are purchasing only the programming they want to see, it forces the cable folks to raise rates. That bubble is about to pop like an overblown helium balloon and when it does pop, the sports leagues could find themselves being short changed because future promised dollars that were coming are suddenly now evaporating in the smoke and dust that is left behind by the burning down of the cable and satellite TV industry as we know it today.
Walkers are coming from the north and south too. From the north, they carry signs from entitled players who want even larger salary figures from owners who no longer have public welfare and no private money in hand to spend. The southern flank carry signs representing fans who are revolting against ticket prices that are increasing at many times the rate of working wages, fans who are tired of overpriced food and drinks provided by third party venders that do not follow food safety requirements in several instances. Minimum wage was $4.25 in 1993, it is now $7.25 in most locations. Yet $4.25 in 1992 will cost you more like $9 in today’s market for the same goods.

So the fans won’t buy tickets, the players are demanding money that is not there because the cable contracts are dead and worthless sheets of legal paper, while the government bonds have expired and no public official worth his or her weight in is coming through that door with as much as a dime of free goodies. This could happen and when it does, how do the pro leagues respond, and how does baseball in particular adapt to this very possible future reality?

I don’t have all of the solutions, but here are a couple. First, MLB should realize that the way fans are going to consume sports is changing and they will not be able to rely on passing this service fee on to the backs of many people who will never watch a game on television, much less attend a game in a stadium. MLB must come up with other revenue from the broadcast of game events. How you do this in part would be to make every single game you broadcast on TV and radio available worldwide to anyone online, no matter what. The audio service largely already accomplishes this and the MLBTV product should follow suit. Make that service available to any fan who wants to see any game, any team, anywhere. Already class action has forced MLB to sell an individual team package for out of market games, but this out of market concept is outdated and frankly it should have been terminated 15 years ago. MLB should have a very basic process here, no matter the fan, no matter where in the world you are geographically. Want to get the audio only package, sell it on a monthly or season long basis, sell it also on a per team or whole league type of package. So, I can get all MLB games for a month at a time, one team for the entire season, or all MLB games for the entire season. The same concept naturally would be true for those who upgrade to the video streaming service.

MLB should also hire broadcasters to cover games in other foreign languages. Many teams already have Spanish announcers, but hire a few MLB controlled broadcast teams who can do games in various popular languages around the world. While these announcers would not be able to cover all 2430 regular season games, they could cover 5-7 games a week, with all teams being offered throughout the season. Imagine if on any given day, you could find a couple games with an option in French, or German, or Chinese, Etc. These foreign language products would be streamed anywhere in the world, including to US based customers with a 30 day free intro to get fans interested. Teach them about the game if you will, then if they get hooked and fall in love, they can by a subscription. Similar audio broadcasts in various languages should also be made available via streaming services and if in languages that are in parts of the world with less internet traffic, dedicate a shortwave or related radio broadcast service specifically for this purpose.

Second, find ways to make the stadium into a year round money generating facility. Stadiums would become better public works investments if they were used more than 80 some odd times a season. MLB teams should find ways to book events at stadiums on all possible dates outside the baseball season and during the season, allow various events to take place at the facility on all dates not used for baseball, accept the day prior to a team returning home from a long road trip when the facility needs to be prepared for the next home games on the schedule. With more and more teams creating social zones in stadiums, those could all be rented out for big events and receptions on a very regular basis. I think the future here is interesting, as I could see a day where seats as we know it are no longer sold, with fans instead buying tickets to various zones within a ballpark and having areas to move around in, while using more restaurant style seating with tables and movable seating that allow for folks to face the field of play if using such setups on game days. Plus here is a big leap of Sheldon Cooper sarcasm, host more baseball games. Schedule the big state high school tournament during certain seasons at your stadium, bring college teams in on a regular basis for more than just the single weekend tournament and have events at the stadium on those open dates that are baseball related that get the community involved with one another. Have showcase events for international prospects, have baseball combine style events prior to the draft, and other events that promote baseball’s future talent, but do so in MLB stadiums where you can draw in MLB crowds. Imagine, you sell 30 thousand seats at 15 bucks a pop for any seat in the stadium and charge 5 dollars for parking, you know, minor league rates back in the day and you have made 450K just in ticket sales for that one event. For the stadiums as we know them to become true profit machines and thus to view them as investments or properties that have value, they must be living breathing spaces that are regularly active throughout the calendar year. We would never see funding for office buildings that were open only on Monday and Tuesday, or about 100 days in the year, which is even more than we see for actual game day events in MLB, even when postseason is accounted for. The numbers are certainly much worse in terms of usage dates for the NFL which has a max of about 12 in any given season, while the numbers for NHL and NBA arenas are about a max of 58 dates if a team played all the way to the finals, since no team plays the max 7 games in all four series. Even and arena that is home to both an NBA and NHL team gets a max of fewer than 120 usage dates during the year.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that things will probably not unfold in exactly the way that my imagination is presenting here. But the issues I have laid out on electronic paper here could very well take baseball and sports as we know it into new directions that require very difficult decisions and it will require creative solutions by power brokers who are used to getting everything the way they want it. All in the baseball and sports industry will need to be willing to make some real sacrifices and change how they think today, or risk forever destroying the very games we love in the future when resources have dried up and the league as currently funded becomes a bankrupt hulking mass of debt with empty decaying buildings that are home to no games, no fans, and no joy.