Who was not stunned by the recent report that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig had been paid $14.5 million for running the business in 2005? We resist calling Bud Selig Baseball Commissioner because that would give him dominion over the game I adore and I'm not sure he's earned that along with his money.
But hearing that Bud is getting 14.5 million samoleans for this labor of love made me think that he could solve some of baseball biggest problems in a classic way--by throwing money at them.
So we offer this plan to help baseball, help Bud ease his financial burden (really, how do you spend $14.5 million?) and do some good. Best of all, Bud, the advice is free. Such a deal.
This is real money we're talking about--Barry Bonds money, Roger Clemens half-season money, Gil Meche and Ted Lilly money. It's so much money, it's more than half what A-Rod is making this year. Wow.
As baseball prepares to honor a man who cannot be honored enough, Jackie Robinson, most of these ideas are aimed at re-affirming the courage and commitment that was Jackie Robinson. While great, smart and talented Major Leaguers like CC Sabathia, Dontrelle Willis and Torrii Hunter are saying that attention must be paid to the African-Americans who are not playing this great game, here are some ways to pay attention and keep the game diverse and beautiful. These are also intended to get Bud in touch with the fans, those who would rather play it, watch it, talk about it than do anything else. By that I mean most of the Citizens of FanNation.
Here are 10 ways for Bud to earn his money, spend his money and gain the title he should really want bestowed on him by The APB (that's the Arthur Pincus Blog, folks)--Baseball Commissioner. One other thing, Bud, I'm pretty sure that the Citizens of FanNation will be along with some more great suggestions for you, too. Keep checking back. This really couldn't be better.
- Take the kids to the games. Do you realize how many tickets $14.5 million can buy each season? We'll use just a little. First, Bud, you buy 20 tickets for every Saturday and Sunday afternoon game in every city every week-April through October. You aren't tapping into MLB's stash for these. You place a call to the ticket office (or have your secretary do it, that's ok) and say you want 20 for each of those games. By my disgraceful arithmetic, I figure this is going to cost between 500 and 600 thousand bucks (20 tix per game, at about $35 per for what I figure is about 800 games a season). You buy the hot dogs, too. Who goes? Kids. Black kids, white kids, yellow kids, brown kids. Boy kids and girl kids. Weak kids and strong kids. Able-bodied kids and disabled kids. KIDS. Two adults and 18 kids. You're one of the adults at least once a week. What's the worst that can happen? You'll see 26 more baseball games and meet a lot of great young people. Work with team community relations departments to find your guests.
- Hire a meteorologist as your consultant. My old Bronx pal Harvey Leonard is a pretty good weatherman on WCVB, Channel 5 in Boston. You could do a lot worse. Have Harvey sit with your schedule guys and he'll explain that there is often bad April weather in Cleveland and Boston and Detroit and Pittsburgh and New York Chicago and several other northern cities without domes. And maybe your guys shouldn't be scheduling too many games in those cities right off the bat. Of course they have to play at home sometime but do you HAVE to bring in teams from the West (with domes like Seattle) or great weather (like Anaheim or Houston) to play in cities without domes (like Detroit) or with horrible weather (like Cleveland) for their only visit of the season? In April? If it was possible to create a new problem in baseball, you have gone and done it. Now fix it! Harvey can help you. Guaranteed--but you have to pay him.
- Build 30 fields in your name in each Major League city (2 in NYC, Chicago, LA). Inner-city fields. Real grass or some science made stuff that drains well. Even you can't afford to pay for them all; start the fund, create the organization, provide your clout--and several of your dollars. Set up an endowment so maintenance is guaranteed. You want to know the kind of field I'm talking about? Leave MLB's Park Avenue office, get on the No. 4 or 5 subway and go up to 125th Street and walk a couple of blocks to Marcus Garvey Park and watch an afternoon of baseball at Bill Shea Friendship Field, home of the Harlem Little League. You'll get it real fast. Ask for Mr. or Mrs. Raiford. They started the league and can give you lots of pointers. Or when you're in Houston, check out Diez Park, home of the East End Little League. Ask for Myrna Flores. She'll set you right.
- Build 20 fields in New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast. Same fund; more fields. It's a city in terrible trouble and may never recover if people like us don't pay attention. Go down there with Jimmie Lee Solomon, your Exec VP for Baseball Operations and hook up with some youth league administrators. I'll get you some names if you need. Locate 20 sites for fields that need building or rebuilding. You can even catch a New Orleans Zephyrs game (they're the Mets' top affiliate) while you're there and get some gumbo and redfish and beignets.
- You cannot, repeat cannot, ignore Barry Bonds' chase of Hank Aaron's home run record. I already stood on my soapbox about this and there's no need to go back. But remember the results of that Seton Hall Poll and how it will speak to the African-American community if you ignore Barry. You don't have to like him; you don't even have to really talk to him. Be there. We'll even let MLB pay your expenses so this is at no cost to your bottom line.
- Bring Hank Aaron along with you on "The See Barry Do It Tour." Don't let him diminish his own greatness by an act of omission that some might read as pettiness. You pay his way. And there can't be anything better than being at a ballpark with Bad Henry.
- Take in a game with Chicago Al and Lilwound at New Comiskey. Don't worry about those scary sounding names, they're perfectly harmless...I think. We're not talking about a game in Jerry Reinsdorf's luxury suite. We're talking about a game in the stands, night game, probably against the Tigers, late July. Meet them at Gino's East for Pizza then head to the park and talk to them, have a hot dog and a beer with them and hear what they think about your game. Then go for a few more beers afterwards. (Make sure you've got a car and driver for them and you, too.) These guys love baseball. No, it's not love, they're the next level above love and I don't know what to call it. Sit with them for one night and then tell me what you call it. Better yet, get four tickets and I'll join you. And I'll pay my own way to Chicago for that. Definitely. And later on, get in touch with Citizen Howard Camerik and have him put together a group to take in a Marlins' game; and head up to T.O. and watch Vernon Wells play centre field with A Baseball Geek named Pete Toms. I'm sure he'll come over from Ottawa for the day. There are Citizens in every city in FanNation who can help. They're there for you, Bud. Promise.
- Fund the Allan H. "Bud" Selig Baseball Academy in any city of your choice. What's that? Milwaukee? Perfect. Set it up the way Ice Hockey in Harlem or Figure Skating in Harlem have been set up. Academics, baseball, ethics, baseball, culture, life, baseball. After the first academy's a rousing success, do the fund-raising for Allan H. "Bud" Selig Academy's all around the country. Don't only think Major League cities. Richmond's a good place. Work with the Arthur Ashe Foundation. How about Louisville home of the champ of champs Muhammad Ali? This sounds pretty good, doesn't it Allan H.?
- Create and fund baseball ambassadors and here's 10 guys who should be on the list: Ozzie Smith, Dontrelle Willis, Torrii Hunter, CC Sabathia, Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Felipe Alou, Dusty Baker, Don Mattingly and Vernon Wells. Give them real roles and get them out there, teaching people that playing baseball is more fun than anything. Have them show don't tell. When your fields open, have your guys there to throw out the first ball. When the Academies need someone to teach how to turn two, get the Wizard or Cal. Working a pitcher? Tony G or Donnie Baseball. Tracking a fly ball? Vernon or Torrii. Pitching in a pinch? CC or Dontrelle. Strategy? I give you Felipe Alou. Ethics? Any one will do.
- Last, there's a nonprofit, I've gotten to know called Pitch In for Baseball. It takes donations of "gently used baseball equipment", cleans it up and warehouses it and then distributes it to youth leagues and teams that need the help. No charge. How about a nice donation to Pitch In for Baseball and a Public Service Announcement on MLB national broadcasts? A nice spot on the MLB website? That sounds good. And you can star in the PSA with your Ambassadors. Bud and the Ambassadors. It's jazz.
That's all Bud. I may have forgotten one or two or maybe a hundred things. And I really haven't spent all that much of your money. Still plenty left for you to have your regular brats lunch at Gilles Custard in Milwaukee. Let us know how it's going.