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An armchairgm.com first - 01.22.08 - When Bud Selig retires as the Commissioner, I have his replacement.
A few years ago, I was thinking of someone like a Branch Rickey III, president of the Pacific Coast League. Long baseball pedigree. A man above reproach.
There were only two things wrong with that idea: First, he's too smart to ever take the job, and second, as corrupt and morally bankrupt as baseball has become, the job of turning baseball from a sport to an entertainment requires someone with the proper pedigree.
McMahon, the mastermind of WWE knows how to sell the idea of a sport as entertainment. You'll note that in all states where there are WWE events they are promoted solely as entertainment. This may be where you wrestling fans need to turn away from the screen... The outcomes of WWE events are... controllled. Fixed, even.
There I said it. The reason that WWE is an entertainment is because its soap-opera scripting has taken the form of wrestling and elevated or debased it, depending upon whether your an aficionado of the olympic sport, and turned it into a very profitable freak show with ropes.
Yet for something that is largely fiction, it draws not only damn good ratings, but legions of fans. Fans who get pumped up and pay good money to go see their heroes talk trash and throw down in the ring.
When Selig retires, someone is going to need to carry on Project Under Rug Swept. McMahon is the only likely successor as baseball transits from a sport to an entertainment.
He will have no problem playing up the epic tale of Barry Bonds record-breaking achievement. There will be the big grudge match with Pete Rose. He'll make Pete shave his head on national TV and autograph six hundred more "I'm sorry I bet on baseball" balls that Vince will auction off to the adoring crowds in Cincy watching the spectacle live from the field.
McMahon has some really good marketing ideas. He'll rearrange the American and National Leagues to maximize profit. The American League will be the Yankees and Red Sox, and the National League will be everyone else. The wannabees will have to slug it out for a chance to play against the perennial baseball and broadcast television favorites. Steinbrenner will like the idea because it reduces his need to jack up his payroll to the stratosphere to make the playoffs because every year will be a playoff year. The way it should be for Yankee Fan and the Red Sox Nation, right?
Steroids? To hell with them! What a player does in his free time is his business, right? Roid rage is good for business. A player tosses a bat, or cracks an umpire in the skull? Hey, cost of doing business baby. They knew the job was dangerous when they took it, right?
Vince is a guy that Don Fehr can do business with as well. None of those nasty ethics investigations and having your members paraded as criminals in front of Congress, or investigated by the FBI if MLB becomes a full "entertainment." Hell, Vince will put card chairs out for the on-deck players so they have something to swing at the umpires other than a bat when they do the pissed off thing about the call. Umpire goes down. Crowd goes nuts! You'll quadruple attendance! They'll get 900 fans in Florida!
McMahon can even provide hope to Brewers fans that they may see a World Series at least every 15 or so years. He'll make sure that the script calls for a few babyface teams from the new National League to meet the heels of the American League. If the fans respond well to them on the Nielsen ratings, and they vote for the right products on MLB.com, they might even win the MLB Championship Belt... Belts look so much more cool than trophies to hold over your head and rage around.
All those players who still think it's a sport? "Let 'em play it in the Olympics," Commissioner McMahon will sneer. Oh wait! They can't. MLB and it's rotten steroids policies helped get baseball banned from the games. Well, there's always the NCAA. The minors will be no place for honest men. Now, along with batting practice and conditioning comes six months of learning how to take a chair and fall to the ground. How to stage a good run on the mound and bench-clearing brawl. Advanced theories of calling out battery-chucking Mets fans.
It could make baseball the National Pastime again, because we suck all that up in other programming right now without even blinking.
Doesn't that say as much about how pathetic the fans have become for sitting in the stands and not saying boo about what is being done to their game.
Just give me my stars and my beer and I don't care about Mitchell or cheating or anything. It's January, and judging by what I have seen here in the way of commentary by Joe Fan, you deserve McMahon, and every McMahon-like thing that the real MLB folks are cooking up for you unless you get in their face and say enough to all of the cheating and the lack of rules in the sport.
Pathetic. Just pathetic.
Brian Ross regular column can be seen at the MAJOR BLOGS of Minor League News.