I consider myself to be a progressive person in most areas in life, especially when it comes to baseball. I believe the game needs to constantly look for ways to adapt and change to remain relevant. You see, I am old. (…okay, okay only 46) Yet I reminisce about a time when the World Series was the most hallowed event in all of sport. In elementary school; every kid watched it, talked about it, and then we would go outside and emulate it after school. In present day, the NFL Pro Bowl routinely gets higher ratings than the World Series. I love the NFL, but the Pro Bowl?
So I get it. Baseball desires to stay significant in the sporting world. MLB revenues are at all-time highs, but the game must continue to grow and attract young fans. Baseball bores my 9 year old son, and many of his friends. One of the biggest complaints that casual fans have (and even hard-core fans) is that MLB games are too long. MLB games today are averaging around 2 hours and 57 minutes. (up from about 2 hours and 30 minutes in those glorious 70s!) That’s an average, so most games are going over the 3 hour mark. I don’t know about you, but I won’t go to a movie if I see that it has a 3 hour price tag on it. I think we can all agree…we love baseball, but it is just a bit long and shortening the games could be beneficial.
However, we don’t need ludicrous suggestions like the one Buster Olney reported on yesterday. Olney cited a “Major League executive” who suggested shortening the games to 7 innings. As progressive and open to new ideas as I may be, this idea seems as sacrilegious to me as the Star Wars prequels were. (Damn you George Lucas!)
7 innings…really? I hope the person that suggested this isn’t one of those who are vehemently opposed to a National League DH. The DH in the NL would be a “tweak” to the rules compared with the seismic shift that a 7 inning major league game would be. 7 innings? That’s for Quakers. (…obscure movie reference)
Why not two outs? How about starting all hitters with a 1-1 count like they do in Men’s slow-pitch Softball? (not sure why it’s not just 3 balls and 2 strikes…it’s a bit like saying turn it up to 11!….another movie reference) Of course these ideas are ridiculous (so is a 7 inning game)…but I have to offer several real and some not so real suggestions:
- During an intentional walk, do we really need the pitcher to throw the four balls? When I coached High School, we could just say “put him on”. When was the last time you saw something exciting on an intentional walk?
- For replay… no challenges, no managers coming out to stall… just a person in a control room who watches every play. If something needs to be reviewed, he turns on a red light on the scoreboard, looks at it, and then makes a ruling.
- Although I understand the strategy, I hate the “specialist” relief pitchers that have developed over the last 30 years. As with most bad things in my life, I blame Tony LaRussa for this. These moves make the last few innings tedious to watch. Bear with me here as this is radical, but how about a limit to the number of active pitchers a team can have for a game? If a manager only had 10 pitchers to use for a game, then he can’t burn a lefty to face one freaking batter in the 7th inning! I realize there are many flaws (union issues, pitcher usage,) with drastic change such as this. How about a larger roster like the NFL and NHL and then have players who are “scratched” or “inactive” that day? How about a 30 man roster…with 5 players who are inactive that game?
- A pitch clock? This might work, and umps are already supposed to be speeding this up…but umpires don’t like to be told what to do.
…and now for the really radical (and not really serious… yet still better ideas than a 7 inning game)
- Step one, fire every Major League Umpire. Step two, offer them their jobs back only if they can pass a “We will no longer be pompous a$$holes who are more important than the game” test. There may be some union issues to deal with.
- A one minute between innings clock and the pitcher can just start throwing to the catcher if the batter is not up in time. To make up for lost advertising revenue, have commercials “picture in picture” during the game at opportune times.
- Get rid of the 7th inning stretch (don’t shoot me yet)…except at Wrigley Field.
- An extra-inning game shall be settled with a home run derby…like hockey does with the shoot-out.
- Allow players to go into the stands to attempt to catch foul balls.
- Fire every umpire…oh…sorry…did that one already.
- Taking a cue from the NFL, let the pitcher and manager communicate via a microphone in the player’s cap. Then eliminate all mound visits.
- Instead of trotting after a home run, players can elect to just bow to the crowd and strut back to the dugout.
- Robot bat boys on hover boards
- Like a “Get of Jail Free” card, allow each manager 1 automatic out that they can use at any time in the game. Think of the strategy! Do you shut down the rally, or do you save it for the last out of the game?
- No pick-off attempts on slow-players.
A couple more play-off spots added in MLB? Sure, why not?
The DH in the National League? I will think about it.
A 7 inning major league game? You are out of your mind.