Spicing up *wink, wink* the baseball draft
Editor’s note: We are rerunning this article that Jed Rigney wrote last year because it’s draft time again and we were all sitting around our luxurious conference room in the penthouse of the TTF Baseball Media Tower and we all simultaneously and spontaneously realized that this column is not only delightfully written but is just as true this week as it was last year at this time.
[Actual Editor's note: Obviously, Jed wrote that last Editor's note. We are seriously considering limiting his access to the website.]
It always starts off the same: Boy meets girl (or boy meets boy or girl meets girl – whatever, lighten up) and it’s all fireworks and passion and bliss. But after a while, the thrill wears off, and soon that thing she can do with her tongue just isn’t really that amazing anymore.
We settle into routines together, and then the fire burns out and it seems more like killing time than the great romance it once was. Inevitably, someone feels like they are being taken for granted (the girl, of course, because men don’t have feelings or emotions or the overwhelming need to just be held for just a moment).
Everyone knows this. It’s part of life. It’s just the way things go.
This weekend is Major League Baseball’s amateur draft. This is where all the teams in the league get together and select players from college and high school to join them in their never-ending pursuit of a championship.
After years and years of hard work and perseverance, amateur baseball players get to see their efforts finally pay off when they are rewarded with a professional contract. Or it doesn’t pay off because they aren’t selected and they find out that no one really likes them and that they’re not very good and they probably should have just stayed in school and became a dentist or architect like their mother always said they should.
The new-player drafts for all the major sports are pretty boring for some people – and impossibly boring for the rest. It’s hard to blame the leagues or the networks that show the drafts because it’s really just a bunch of guys picking a bunch of other guys for their teams. It’s just the way things go.
But in these modern times, we, as a superior species with the ability to reason and resolve problems, have vast new resources and capacity. And we have taken it upon ourselves to alter the usual course of human events. We seek out ways to break free of the routine and keep things interesting – especially in the bedroom.*
* I mean sex.
There are now thousands of options available to spice things up, everything from guide books with new positions to lubricants to adult toys to other sexual apparatuses with so many straps and knobs and buckles and whips and attachments that your parents would be very ashamed with how naughty you are.
Or maybe they wouldn’t. If you are grossed out by the idea of old people having sex (like just about everyone else is – even other old people), you’re probably going to want to cover your eyes for the rest of this paragraph. The popularization of male enhancement pills and herbs and pumps has lead to an increase in STDs among older people. It’s true. And gross.
I know it’s kind of a stretch, but if you think about it, sports drafts are kind of like the missionary position of professional league activity. Whereas, something like the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals or the World Series are like a weekend in Thailand hosted by Tiger Woods (though probably with a lot less penicillin).
It’s time for the baseball draft to mix things up – throw in some harnesses and sex swings – not literally. Well, maybe. I don’t know; I’m confused. For now, let’s say that they shouldn’t have sex swings during the televised version of the draft. For now.
But there are lots of things they can do to make it a little more interesting than “The Oakland Athletics really need a first baseman. … And here’s the pick. … They took a pitcher. … I am disappointed.” Boring.
There one problem with baseball’s draft that we can’t do anything about is that the players who are drafted will most likely not play for a Major League team in the near future. That’s just the way baseball players develop. So the usual thought process for a fan goes: “Oh boy! My favorite team just picked a guy who might be good in a few years. I hope I’m still alive then.” When football and basketball players get drafted, they are usually seen playing the very next season – playing football and basketball that is, not playing baseball – that would be weird.
One of the weirdest things with the draft right now is that it’s done in the middle of the season. No other sports league does this. Because it’s dumb. In the middle of the season, baseball fans are worried more about Derek Jeter’s on-base percentage or how Derek Lowe just blew a five-run lead or their team’s standings (and lots of other things non-Derek related).
Maybe this is done because it’s after the college and high school baseball seasons and before those amateurs would start their next semester of studenting. But some college players keep playing in the College World Series playoffs even after they are drafted. This is crazy. If a Major League team drafts me and is just trying to figure out exactly how many millions or even hundreds of thousands they are going to give me, I am not going out onto a baseball field to risk my career for a college that hasn’t paid me a penny after years of service.
My first thought on how to make the draft more interesting is to just blow up the whole process. Start from scratch. Live auctions for players – highest bidder takes the player home. Are you kidding me that you would not watch every single minute of that?
I know making changes in Major League Baseball is just crazy talk. Hell, they’re still trying to figure out how to incorporate instant replay. My nine-year-old niece knows how to do instant replay.
So, I’ve put together a few, simple ideas that would make the baseball draft 125 percent more watchable right away. I had some other ideas that would have pushed it up to 200 percent more watchable, but my editor pointed out that the players probably couldn’t do anything that would endanger their ability to play baseball. Good point. And just so you’re not missing out an all of those ideas, I’ll give you a little taste. Two words: American Gladiators.
Football and basketball, feel free to take notes on the five easy steps to spice up a draft:
1. Superstars. Baseball has all kinds of success stories from the very high picks like Ken Griffey, Jr. to very low picks like Mike Piazza who became superstars in the league. Let’s see them. Trust me, they’re not busy. Most of them would show up for a supermarket opening if you threw a few bucks at them. Let them talk for a few seconds about whatever. This covers our sentimentality angle before we go in for the ratings boosters.
2. Busts. Here’s where we slam home the drama. I want to see all the guys who didn’t make it – the cautionary tales. I want the guys who once were all that and now they’re studying at ITT Technical Institute. Let’s work this one hard – all the dreams they had and all the things they were going to do in the league and how they just missed being Griffey or Piazza. Just promise them a little dough and some of the fame they missed out on and they’ll be lined up around the block. Yes, it’s a train wreck. And, yes, it’s a ratings winner.
3. Sketch comedy. All the awards shows are doing this now. And I think we all know that athletes love to ham it up in comedy bits. Granted, they’re usually not very good. But every now and then you get some comedy gold – though sometimes it’s funny in that really uncomfortable way where you have to laugh because otherwise you might cry or vomit.
4. Sponsorships. Where the heck is EA Sports? I want to see video game simulations with the new players. Come on, guys. I once created a player in a baseball video game named Babe Truth that hit 60 home runs every year. Surely someone from EA could put this together. Or, better yet, just hire some kids to do it. People love kids.
5. Change location. This year’s draft is being held in Secaucus, New Jersey. No offense to the people of Secaucus, but that place is a hole. I was there once for a few hours and the singular purpose of my life became to get my butt out of there. Let’s move this thing out to Vegas and do it right. Then we get the singers and the showgirls and the magicians involved and it’s pretty much the greatest show on Earth.
Major League Baseball can ignore these suggestions if they want. But all I ask is that they please do something different. Make it seem like you care. Don’t just do the same-old, same-old. It’s suffocating me!
I’m open to just about anything to keep things fresh and new – even if it means dressing up like a pony and letting you ride me around the backyard.