John Smoltz wants to alter Major League Baseball as you have come to know it.
The Hall of Fame pitcher and FOX and MLB Network analyst proposed revolutionary changes to the big leagues in an interview USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale published Thursday. Chief among the changes Smoltz wants MLB to implement are playing a balanced schedule over a split-season in order to increase the number of pennant races and reduce teams’ incentives to tank.
Imagine a scenario in which division winners in each half of the season advance to the playoffs. Smoltz believes that would multiply interest nationwide.
“Teams can now compete in the second half instead of just dumping everybody,” Smoltz said. “How are you going to tell your fan base that you’re not going to try in the second half? Who says you can’t have a nice second half? You could see teams reconstructed and change philosophically.
“You would have (two) trade deadlines that mean something instead of becoming a dumping station for teams. You look at Baltimore, they might have changed their philosophy. The Nationals wouldn’t have traded all of those pieces. It would change the way the game is played.”
Smoltz also believes eliminating interleague and rivalry games would make MLB’s competition fairer.
“Don’t play interleague leagues. Don’t choose rivalries. Don’t manipulate the schedule. Just play everyone the same.”
Reducing the number of regular-season games to 154 also is one of Smoltz’s ideas, although Nightengale suggests owners and players would balk at the revenue loss that would accompany such a change.
Nevertheless, Smoltz implores MLB to adopt the format that is growing increasingly common in minor league baseball. He said recent epic World Series’ have prevented more fans from tuning out the sport.
“If you think about it, what saved baseball the last two years is the last two (thrilling) World Series,” Smoltz concluded. “That covered up a lot of weaknesses and flaws in the game. But the moment we get a clunker, all of those things will get exposed.
“We’ve got to get this game vibrant again. If we don’t, it’ll be unwatchable.”
Thumbnail photo via Gregory J. Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images