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A modest proposal for Rob Manfred

In which the wallets of billionaires are prioritized over the well-being of the players to ensure the, er, lasting love of the game of baseball among fans.

MLB Owners Meetings Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Baseball, this great game of ours, finds itself in a state of melancholy. Major leaguers have become so emboldened that they are now looking for job security and payment that aligns with their value, while minor leaguers, ever the feisty bunch, are fighting to be paid a living wage so that they can make ends meet. Meanwhile, the heroes of the game, the owners, are fighting to, uh, not pay players or something, I guess. These are truly dire times.

In a bold move sure to inspire the confidence of players and fans alike, fans recently learned that Major League Baseball wants to continue not paying minor leaguers for their labour during spring training. In a shocking turn of events, the notion of not paying people for their work was met with some hostility in the Twitter-verse. Heroically unrelenting as always, MLB doubled down and said, “You know what, how about we propose cutting hundreds of minor league jobs while we’re at it?

That one was also not exactly well-received for some reason. And, finally, turning their attention back to the bargaining table once again, MLB presented the MLBPA with an offer that showed a truly inspiring level of commitment to ending this lockout. Among the concessions the owners were willing to make to preserve the sanctity of the game, the one that got the most attention was a gargantuan annual leap of $2 million in CBT thresholds from 2024-26. Shockingly, MLBPA representatives were reportedly underwhelmed by this offer.

With little-to-no movement on the negotiation front, I have devised a modest proposal for one Mr. Rob Manfred. If I am remembering correctly, I believe that a very intelligent man once said that playing the stock market was more lucrative than owning a professional baseball team. With the unending generosity of billionaires front of mind, my proposal will not only solve Mr. Manfred’s immediate labour problems, but will also ensure financial gains for the people that every fan goes to the ballpark to see: the owners.

Here is my modest proposal, or a way to fix baseball in just three short steps.

Pitchers are becoming far too expensive. Prior to the lockout, Max Scherzer signed a contract that will pay him north of $43 million annually over the next three years. Just two short years ago, Gerrit Cole was guaranteed $324 million. Even Andrew Heaney is making more than $8 million! And for what, to throw a baseball?

I propose Mr. Manfred gets rid of pitchers entirely. Pitching machines exist and offer the exact same thing that guys like Scherzer and Cole offer on a nightly basis for less than a margin of the cost. When pitching machines break down, they do not need to have surgery and spend a year being paid to recover; they can be sent for repairs or another one can be purchased to replace the original one for 0.00046512 percent the cost of one year of Max Scherzer.

Building off of this, we all know that pace of play has been Mr. Manfred’s number one priority since becoming commissioner in 2015. And, to be honest, he is absolutely right: clearly the game is boring and no one likes it. Thankfully, I believe that I have identified the main culprit: home runs. While it is true that they once helped reignite international interest in the game, the harsh reality is that it takes far too long for the ball to leave the field of play and players take far too long to round the bases.

That is why I am proposing that Mr. Manfred outlaws home runs. In fact, all full swings should be against the rules. In their place, the only acceptable form of contact should be bunting. Last year, there were 313 bunt hits in 1,581 plate appearances. That means that just 19.7 percent of all bunt attempts resulted in a hit. While these numbers do include sacrifice bunts, of course, that means there were more outs when people bunted, and more outs means a faster game. The league-wide batting average in 2021 was .244. That is far too high. If MLB is able to get that number down to the sub-.200 range while cutting out the time it takes for a baseball to go over the fence and the batter to round the bases, pace of play will no longer be an issue.

Finally, let us return to the topic of salaries for a moment. The current system of pay no longer works. Players are asking for far too much and their greed is eating into the wallets of the billionaires who are generous enough to allow them to play. This issue has made me think back to my youth. Every summer from the age of four until I was an adult, I played in at least one baseball league. To do so, my parents had to pay organizations, much like Mr. Manfred’s, to let me play in their leagues and access their facilities for four months of the year.

In place of the current salary structure, my final proposal is that, much like in my playing days, players should be required to pay the owners for the right to play baseball for them, not the other way around. Those who pay will be able to play in the league, access the team’s facilities, travel with the team, and will be provided with one (1) jersey and one (1) hat that they are required to care for on their own in exchange for their services. Should they choose not to pay, the player will no longer be permitted to step foot on the playing field.

As I am sure you can tell, Mr. Manfred, given that you are clearly a man of sound logic and reason, all of my proposals are modest, measured, and delivered in the same good faith that you have delivered yours. By implementing even one of these proposals, Major League Baseball would not only be able to salvage what is left of the current season, but it would also enable the league to pivot its attention to more pressing issues, like how the league can leverage the popularity of soulless corporations and capitalize on gambling addictions to widen the wealth gap even more.