Finally: Welcome, MLB, to the 21st (or is it 20th?) Century

Let's be honest: In it's history, Major League Baseball has rarely been confused with other professional sports leagues in terms of its ability to be forward thinking and cutting edge in promoting its sport.

But for as much heat as Bud Selig takes as commissioner -- some of it entirely deserved -- there are some things he's done right in his tenure. (Divisional realignment and the wild card come to mind, for example.)

Well, count today's announcement that MLB will televise this year's amateur baseball draft as another step in the right direction for the sport:

For the first time in its history, the baseball entry draft will be aired live on ESPN2. Coverage will begin on Thursday, June 7th at 2 p.m. ET from Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The broadcast will end at 6 p.m. ET.
In the understatement of the day, Selig said this is an idea "whose time has come," and I agree. But while MLB is being revolutionary, why don't they take some cues from the other sports to spice up the draft as well?
  • Speaking of ideas whose time have come, baseball needs to lift its archaic rule and let teams trade their picks. Even if it's too big of a stretch for baseball to allow picks to be a part of player trades, it should allow teams to swap picks as they see fit. Part of what makes such compelling drama for the NFL Draft is the idea that someone might move up or down to get their guy. The MLB amateur draft is littered with poor franchises taking guys they think they can sign, rather than the best guys available. Why not let the Royals trade down to stockpile picks they think they can more affordably sign while letting the Yankees move up to get that can't-miss prospect that will help them win the pennant next year?
  • Televise more that just the first round. Get through at least the first five rounds. While I realize the NFL draft takes all day to get through its first three rounds on day one, the picks come a lot faster in the MLB draft.
  • Pay a guy to become your Mel Kiper Jr. Kiper doesn't just provide valuable information about football players -- there are a lot of guys out there on the Internet who do things very similar to what Kiper does -- he promotes the NFL Draft and the league in a way that simply can't be duplicated. He raises the profile of his network and the NFL simply with the hype that's as hyperbolic as his hair. Find a baseball draftnik and pay him a ridiculous amount of money to shill your product.
There are other ideas out there, but these would be a huge first step for a league that continually finds itself losing ground with young fans.

No comments: