Move over Bud Selig, Russ wants your job

Jeff Russ

Sitting in the newsroom watching the Cleveland Indians win their home opener, I couldn’t help but think about how I would change Major League Baseball.

There is a lot to complain about – steriods, salary caps, Curt Schilling – but I thought about the issues I would deal with if I were named commissioner for one day.

So, if I were commissioner of Major League Baseball, here are three major issues I would address:

1. Eliminate the designated hitter

I hate the DH. It takes baseball out of baseball. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Travis Hafner play for the Indians, but I want to see the manager have to do some real managing and control a lineup.

I want to see Indians’ manager Eric Wedge decide if he should keep the pitcher in the lineup or if he should go to a pinch hitter. At its current state, I could probably coach the Indians during a random regular season game.

Making the pitchers bat in the American League would also eliminate head hunting. I would have liked to see Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez put a bat in their hands when they were infamous for throwing at batters in the early part of the decade.

2. Eliminate indoor stadiums

There is nothing worse than baseball in a dome. I would make it mandatory to play outdoors. There are no roofs in baseball.

I tried to watch the Twins play the Angels in Minnesota on Monday, but it was unwatchable. I can’t stand the artificial lights, field turf and little mounds of dirt that surround the bases.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, Twins and Tampa Bay Rays haven’t won a World Series in a while.

Not just that, but it takes the natural elements that make baseball “baseball” out of the game. You cannot have a fly ball go over the fence because of the wind in the Metrodome or Tropicana Field. Any time the announcers give the “air conditioning report,” you know something’s wrong.

Until the domes are gone, the Rays will forever be in last.

3. Shorten the season, add more double headers

There is nothing more fun than the doubleheader. I love watching two games in one day, and it seems like a throwback to the early days of baseball.

With scheduled doubleheaders, you still get 162 games, and the season can end in mid-October once again.

Furthermore, it makes the manager do more. It makes him budget a lineup, and do some real thinking about which game to play the catcher and who to go to in the bullpen.

It would be fun to spend the entire day at the ballpark with a special “doubleheader” ticket.

I would also like to watch two Indians games in one Saturday.

So, the key is returning to the old days, when cigarettes were advertised on the wall of an outdoor stadium and the American League pitcher was in the ninth spot of the batting order. As commissioner, it would be 1950 all over again.

Contact sports editor Jeff Russ at [email protected].