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April 28, 2008

Making Baseball More Interesting

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:32 am

smudgily I’m a baseball fan. I love watching the Tigers (even all through the late 80’s and 90’s when they sucked) and I will watch no matter what. But that’s me. There’s a lot of people who think the game is boring – and I can see where they’re coming from.

The freakonomics blog has a post today about making baseball more interesting and I thought I’d share some ideas of my own.

Gone are the days where fans would drool over a 2-1 10th inning win pitchers duel. Now, they want offense. It’s the same problem as in the NHL. With that said though, I don’t think lack of offense is baseball’s biggest problem. I think too much time wasting is the problem. All the action of a 3 hour game can be condensed into 18 minutes of film. That’s the problem.

So how do we fix it?

  1. Limit the batter from stepping out of the box. Watching Cabrera bat, he has to step out, re strap his gloves, swing the bat, adjust his elbow and ankle things, spit, and re set his feet between every pitch. Why? If it’s a ball, he didn’t even move. I think the batter should only be allowed to step out of the box if he swung at the pitch. That allows them to re-adjust if they have to and still makes the game much quicker.
  2. Speaking of the batters box, it’s always gone by the time the 3rd hitter steps up. Guys will erase the inside line so that they can get away with crowding the plate. This makes it so the pitcher can’t throw high and inside. I say we put in a permanent box outline made out of home plate material. Players are supposed to be IN the box anyway, and the slippery surface will force them to not step on it while setting up. It’ll also be pretty harmless for sliding.
  3. Let’s change the innings required to get a win to 6. (4 if the game doesn’t go more than 7 innings.) The game has become too specialized with pitchers who will come in to pitch one batter. I remember the good old days before middle relief when pitchers routinely pitched a full game. Increasing this number to 6 will see starters stay out there longer and eventually generate more offense from the lack of specialized pitching.
  4. With the pitching changes we just made we can safely change the 25 man roster to a 23 man roster. There’s no longer a need for as much specialized pitching. Less players per team also builds recognition among the fans. Hockey has the same problem. Most fans in Detroit couldn’t name 3 Colorado Rockies or 2 members of the New York Islanders. A 23 man roster will help this.
  5. Another roster change is a call up rule. Often teams will send somebody down to the minors for rehab, or bring them up to the majors for a spot start. This is all fine and has to be done because of injuries, but it really turns the 25 23 man roster into a 40 man roster. Let’s impose a 15 day rule. Any players sent down to the minors have to stay for 15 days. Any players called up must also remain for 15 days before they can be sent back down.
  6. Expand the strike zone again. Actually, just call it the way it’s written in the rule book. The strike zone is unofficially shrinking more and more each year. Many umps have taken the letters to knees and turned it into waist to knees. Let’s bring back the high strikes. More strikes means more swinging which means more action for the fans. It’s also time to bring back the outside strike. Watch an ump set up next time and you’ll see him cheating toward the inside of the plate. This is because most foul balls go to the outside – the ump doesn’t want to get hit. It keeps him out of harm’s way, but it also gives him a poor view of outside strikes. It’s time to get the umps some proper protection.
  7. Make intentional walks instant. I know that technically a runner can run on an intentional walk pitch, but I don’t think it’s ever happened. This just wastes time while the commentator goes into some stupid story. If the pitcher wants to walk somebody, let them just point to first base and bring up the next guy.

So there you go. There’s some quick easy ways to make baseball a lot more interesting without really changing the rules of the actual game, the height of the pitchers mound, or the sizes of the field.

What do you think?

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