IT'S A LONG SEASON, and the players are the No. 1 priority in the game. Because if we don't play, everything gets shut down. So if I could be commissioner for a day, I would do something to take care of the players: Every getaway game would be a day game. That way we could travel to our next city, have a nice dinner, go to sleep and be ready to give everything we have the next day. Because that's what the fans pay for.
The fans don't pay to see us all tired out and not giving 100%. They're there to see a guy hustle and give all he can to walk home with a W. But when you play a night game and then you have to travel and you get to your hotel at 4, 5, 6 a.m., you often have to wear sunglasses to get off the airplane, because it's daylight already. Then you have to perform that night. Trust me, I don't care how old you are, you are not going to perform at your best.
So that would be one thing I would do for everybody. We would sacrifice only the Sunday-night guys, because there would still be a Sunday-night game.
Meanwhile, we play more than 200 games a season, counting spring training and playoffs. Is that too many? I don't think so. I mean, they are playable, but we need energy to play them. I know the current commissioner, Rob Manfred, has talked about putting limits on relief pitching and defensive shifts. [But] I wouldn't do anything about that, because that's the fun part of the game. Hey, listen, you're trying to win. You're not just trying to pressure somebody.
I'm a hitter. What Manfred is considering would go in my favor. But as a teammate, I would like to see one of my guys coming out of the bullpen to face the other team's best hitter so we can get the W. When my starter gives me a good six or seven innings, I definitely want to match up relief pitchers with hitters so we keep that lead until the end of the game. So I don't think there's much we should do to limit relief pitching.
Shifts? Oh, yeah, I've lost a lot of hits to them. But, hey, at the end of the day you have to do something to get something. I have also won a lot of games because of shifts; I got a lot of hits when I was supposed to be out. So it goes back and forth. Overall I would probably be closer to 3,000 hits without shifts. Still, that's how teams feel comfortable doing things right now.
But the day-game getaway thing? That's something I'd implement if I were commissioner.