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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

If I were the commissioner of baseball for a day . . .

Umpires review a replay on a challenged play

Umpires review a replay on a challenged play during a regular season Major League Baseball game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver on Aug. 31, 2015. Credit: AP

1. Install the DH — immediately

Not next year. Not next month. Right this instant, just in time for Opening Day. And I don’t understand what the delay is. First off, it’s ridiculous to force the American League and National League to play by different rules, then have them switch off during the World Series depending on where the game is played. Just because of tradition? Silly. And for a sport that’s trying to be more appealing to millennials, what’s so much fun about watching a pitcher strike out once every 2.57 plate appearances, as they did last season? Or bat .133? Or homer once every 221.75 PAs? In 2016, the DH batted .254, had an OPS of .775 and homered once every 12.32 PAs. That’s entertainment, and the uniformity baseball should strive for in the interest of fair competition.

2. Move the Rays to Montreal

This is obvious, no? The Rays have been trying to get a new stadium deal somewhere in the Tampa Bay area almost since the franchise was created, yet they’re still anchored at dismal Tropicana Field, which attracts fans only when the Yankees or Red Sox visit. Have MLB chip in some money to get a new stadium in Montreal, extract the Expos name from the Nationals, and let them stay in the AL East — creating an automatic, heated rivalry with the nearby Blue Jays. How great would that be?

3. Speed up instant replay

Sounds easy, right? Even so, MLB still is working on streamlining the process, and we’re not optimistic. How about this: Put a video replay umpire in every press box, making them a part of that night’s crew, and let them have a device that signals the result on the scoreboard. No huddling among the umpires, no waiting for word from MLB’s central review office. Just review the play, make a call and move on. That should shave off serious minutes in the course of a season yet get controversial calls right.

4. Expand rosters to 30

But only 25 of those players can be active for any particular game. That would help teams stay fresher during an exhausting 162-game season and eliminate the maddening expansion of rosters come September. The larger rosters should enable more young players to get the same opportunity they usually have to wait for until September. And MLB would no longer diminish its product in the final month with ugly, endless games that completely distort the roster rules that govern its pennant races from April through August.

5. Demand that hitters stay in the batter’s box

This is not a new concept. It’s already in the Rule Book, 6.02 to be exact. According to that rule, “Umpires may grant a hitter’s request for ‘time’ once he is in the batter’s box, but the umpire should eliminate hitters walking out of the batter’s box without reason.” Now enforce it. Even with all the debate over pitch clocks and other pace-of-play alterations, this simple act of demanding that hitters stay put would lead to a significant reduction in the length of games. And that’s what everybody wants, right?

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