Friday, September 5

Reforming MLB

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.


Isn’t that what we should be hearing from the Bronx right now?

Come on guys, show some heart. It’s September, the Red Sox have a healthy lead on the Yankees; shouldn’t you guys be telling us how it’s 1978 all over again?

Please? It just doesn’t feel right without it. And it makes Jose worry that something terrible is going to happen. Jose needs you folks to tell him how the collapse is imminent, how Ron Guidry and Bucky Dent are coming to get us. Can’t you please tell Jose how Don Zimmer is going to ruin everything?

Jose knows, Jose knows. You don’t feel like you can, what with the Yankees being terrible and all, but don’t you worry what will happen if you don’t? Sure, everything COULD be fine. But will it? How do you know?

If you don’t start talking about 1978 soon, will the harvest ripen or will the locusts descend? Will we freeze in the winter or snuggle safe and secure? If you don’t start talking about it soon, Yankee Stadium may be razed to the ground. Don’t laugh; it could happen.

We don’t know, because every time the Red Sox are in playoff position at this time of year, and the Yankees aren’t, you guys start talking about 1978.

So please, for Jose, can you give it a try? Jose will get you started.

This is just like 1978. Boston choked then and they’ll choke now. They suck. The Red Sox are chokers and they always will be. They haven’t even won a World Series in almost a year. Losers.

2. When Jose went off to graduate school, the main reason he cited in these very pages was that he had simply run out of bullsh*t from his undergraduate days, and needed brand new bullsh*t to fill his intellectual gas tank. (Note: Does bullsh*t count as biodiesel?)

Three weeks in, Jose is happy to say that he is already topping off, squeezing the meter toward 00, if you will.

After just two weeks of studying global policy, Jose is prepared to offer a compelling vision of how Major League Baseball should be restructured in order to learn the essential lessons of the United Nations.

For starters, it should be apparent to anyone now, that the governing structure of baseball does not reflect the underlying power dynamic in meaningful way. One team one vote on League decisions? That’s crazy talk. What we need is a “Security Council” led by the five most powerful teams (note: Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers and Cardinals) who can take the lead in deciding for everyone what is best for the game. Of course, it is possible, that in 30 years the Red Sox might recognize the White Sox as the legitimate representatives of Chicago and remove the Cubs from the seat and perhaps even the league.

“But what about the small market teams?” fans in Pittsburgh and Oakland will say. “What about us?”

Well, you guys can elect a member from each of the six divisions who will get to join the Security Council, where your representative will look pretty and fetch coffee. Occasionally, they will be allowed to nod their head in agreement or say “Good idea.”

In addition, it’s not like we are going to get rid of the old MLB Board of Governors, or whatever it’s called. We’ll just strip it of all its responsibility. Do not worry; there will still be complementary lobster tails at meetings. Also, you can play a role in determining what teams get recognized as parts of the Major Leagues. For instance, if the Durham Bulls want to secede from the Rays and form their own major league club, you would get to vote on that. Of course, if you vote no, the Red Sox will just recognize the Bulls anyway, thereby stripping the Rays of a valuable source of talent. On the downside, this might prompt the Yankees to lay claim to the entire Cincinnati Reds outfield. But do not worry if you are a Reds fan. Jose is pretty sure Dick Cheney wants to give the Reds NATO membership, which is good, because Jose is absolutely prepared to fight and die to defend Corey Patterson.

But governance is not enough. Major League Baseball needs strong and vital institutions as well. They need organizations to coordinate trading policy, labor policy and environmental issues leading to the decline of the ash bat. (Note: Can the Red Sox bring that absurd Nady/Marte trade before the WTO? That’s got to violate a dumping treaty or something, doesn’t it?) Also, someone needs to order the lobster tails. To manage this formidable bureaucracy, Jose proposes that the Office of the Commissioner be abolished and replaced by the office of the Secretary General of Baseball, whose primary qualification be that he has an awesome name. (Note: Every UN Secretary General has had a cool name except Kurt Waldheim. U Thant may be the coolest name ever.) While this would make Bud Selig ineligible for the office, past commissioners like Kennesaw Mountain Landis and Bowie Kuhn would have been eligible. Jose’s recommendation for Secretary General would be Ugueth Urtain Urbina. Sure he is a dangerous criminal, but so was Kurt Waldheim. The Secretary General would be in charge of a set of bureaucracies called The Secretariat, which, Jose imagines, would be staffed entirely by horses.

Another nice thing about the new system is that baseball could implement all sorts of important rules and then not enforce them. Take the new instant replay policy. Under Jose’s proposal, if there was a home run in question, umpires could simply refuse to call it “a home run in question,” thereby making it ineligible for review… sort of… like… now.

Obviously the system is not perfect, but Jose thinks it is well worth a try. After all the United Nations has a decent track record at replacing failed Leagues.

3. Among the subjects Jose is studying this semester is statistics, and as a part of its curriculum, Jose is using a program called STATA to run various kinds of statistical analyses. The program is useful, Jose supposes, but it is also immensely frustrating. After two weeks of working with it, Jose has still not found the command to calculate slugging percentage. He won’t even talk about range factor.

Another problem is in Jose’s microeconomic theory class. In studying preference and consumer choice, Jose’s professor keeps talking about WARP, and Jose cannot, for the life of him figure out what Wins Above Replacement Player has to with anything. The best Jose can come up with is that if a player has a better WARP than a competitor, a general manager, as a consumer of baseball talent, would chose the player with the better WARP. That makes sense right?

Another thing that bothers Jose is that his economics professor keeps talking about Jacobian Matrices, which makes no sense to Jose. Jose had no idea that Jacoby Ellsbury was a mathematician, and it wouldn’t have made any sense for him to be in The Matrix. Of course, it didn’t make any sense for Cornell West to be in The Matrix either, and that didn’t stop him.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.


tucker said...

I absolutely agree that the Nady/Marte was a violation of the MLB anti-dumping ordinance. They were positive value players traded at well below market levels. This clearly suggests an illegal subsidy in order to boost exports from the city of Pittsburgh. However since income and talent levels in Pittsburgh seem not to have improved there must also be corruption. We must enforce restrictions on trading with Pittsburgh, perhaps MLB should allow removal of Most Favored Team status by the rest of the league until the Pirates prove their good standing.

Harry Bird said...

Jacobian Matrices are easy. It's just a 2x2 matrix. The first variable is the number of love letters the player gets. The second variable is the number of stolen bases. The third variable is the number of "web gems" the player has multiplied by the number of times he is compared to any former Red Sox outfielder who turned out to be a money-grubbing sleaze bag. The fourth variable is the arm-strength of the player, which in Ellsbury's case will always be a negative integer.

sanfransoxfan said...

Enjoying FSB? I'm afraid you're not going to be able to match my wife's record of NCAA basketball championships while there ('91 and '92), but possibly you'll match my 1 for 2 (loss to UNLV in '90 finals, then the win in '91). Hopefully you camped out for grad tickets. What you will most likely enjoy, unlike our days back at the "F-U School of Biz" is one or two WS wins. This was not fathomable back in those post-'86 dark days, and we had to rely on the Devil's success as emotional compensation. These new possibilities can only add to your enjoyment.

Weather Boy said...

You're going to put three NL teams on the security council? Isn't that like putting England, Spain, Holland and Portugal on because of their positions of prominence during the 18th century?