Thursday, June 09, 2005

« Who drafts during the season? »

By Suss
I know MLB held a draft for two reasons:
  • The Diamondbacks had the first pick, reminding me they resembled a AAA team last year
  • BGSU outfielder Nolan Reimold was drafted in the second round to the Orioles, reminding me I no longer go to college and have wasted space for over a month since graduation
All painful memories aside, baseball is the only sport of the "Big Four" (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) that, for one reason or another, drafts during the season. This means the players drafted don't even get a chance to come to spring training. They join teams in the middle of the season and lose two, maybe three months, of pro conditioning.

What's more, the draft ended yesterday, and the College World Series playoffs are still going on. There is probably an explanation for this, as baseball loves to be different. They're the Nintendo of professional sports. (PlayStation and Xbox games are on CDs and have extensive online play, and their consoles can play music CDs and DVDs. The GameCube plays mini CDs, barely uses online capabilities and never heard of music CDs.)

Nobody cares about the draft because the fans are the game are too busy tracking the sport, which plays at full capacity virtually every day from April to September.

Every other sport is called the "offseason." Baseball entices people in a little better with the "hot stove" title. Add more intrigue to it by following this schedule:
  1. Finish the season, wait until the World Series champion is crowned.
  2. Re-sign players whose contracts are up or trade them.
  3. Draft new players.
  4. Sign free agents.
Draft needs won't conflict with needs at the top level, because talent is drafted, rather than immediate results. And even though the NFL and NBA draft are different (neither have a true farm system), the NHL does have a minor-league system.

Maybe last January I would have been excited for the Diamondbacks drafting shortshop Justin Upton, since the last taste I had of Arizona baseball was them finishing dead last among all teams. But since the season has started and the team has pulled out of last place and into second, I'm more proud of the results of this year. I'm excited about the play of Troy Glaus, the return of Craig Counsell and the presence of a true five-man rotation for the first time in franchise history. Drafting a player and sending him to the Class-A affiliate is barely a secondary thought.

So why not try it next year? Push the draft to the next winter. Hey, the publicity can't get any worse. Better yet, hold it the same day as the NFL's Pro Bowl, reminding sports fans that football season is over and baseball will be here when the snow melts.