The head clown himself, Bud Selig
The arrogance of the MLB Draft
The laundry list of problems with Major League Baseball can add another: The MLB Draft. The timing of the draft is inconsiderate at best, and arrogant at worst. Of course, with the stellar leadership from the likes of Bud Selig, it is no small wonder that glaring problems exist.
The timing of the MLB Draft is illogical. Instead of waiting a couple of weeks until after the College World Series, Major League Baseball selfishly holds their draft prior to the college game's premier event. Rather than focus on the postseason, the elite players are required to deal with the distractions of reporters, agents, and 30 MLB teams vying for their services. Proponents of the current draft timing will argue that the intent is to get players signed and into the rookie short season with minimal lag between their last game and entering camp for players who are drafted out of high school or whose teams do not qualify for post season play. Another contention of this minority voice is that the MLB is attempting to maximize the time rookies spend playing in the year of their draft in order to acclimate them to a longer playing season than they've ever experienced.
The error in this argument is that an additional two weeks would create a lag that cannot be overcome. Most players who expect to be drafted are not sitting at home with a box of donuts watching Everybody Loves Raymond re-runs, waiting for the phone to ring. They are playing elite-level summer baseball or working with other players or coaches to remain in playing condition. As far as attempting to acclimate players to a longer playing season, baseball is a sport that, in most regions of the country, it can be played year-round via various travel teams, clinics, etc. In areas where the weather does not permit year-round baseball, players have access to indoor facilities. Most draft prospects seek to play as many games as possible every year in order to increase their exposure to college or pro scouts, so the strain of the increased games of a minor league season has diminished in recent years with the growing popularity of travel baseball and individual training.
Unfortunately, the arrogance of MLB leadership does not provide any hope for change in the near future as to the timing of the draft. The NCAA, one can safely assume, must benefit from the current placement of the MLB draft on the calendar, otherwise the collegiate athletics powers-that-be would have pushed for change long ago. While MLB leadership, fans, and owners may not realize the impact of the draft's timing on the rest of the baseball world, college programs, summer baseball coaches, and MLB prospects certainly feel the negative repercussions of the status quo.