The Short Porch: No Huddle Baseball

 I would change policy, bring back natural grass and nickel beer. Baseball is the belly-button of our society. Straighten out baseball, and you straighten out the rest of the world.

    — Bill Lee

MLB recently announced that it hears fans complaints and has issued new rules for pace of play in 2018.  But does it go far enough? Limiting the number of visits to the mound without taking the pitcher out is a great start, but is it enough to pry the eyes of the younger generation away from delicious looking tide pods and iPads? Baseball has always been my love, my game, and my passion.  Maybe because it’s a game the “average” person can play without being born with an advantage of height, or maybe it is just the memories I spent with my grandfather teaching me the game.  However, to the casual fan the pace of play is too slow to keep their interest — and their dollars — which is the real problem they are trying to fix.

The game is no longer about the fan experience, but more a way to generate revenue through commercials and ad placements. So as much as I am in favor of the new rules I have come up with 5 more that I think will help make baseball relevant to the American public once again.

  • Pitchers and catcher will have walkie talkies put into their gloves and face masks eliminating the need to meet on the mound. Take it a step further maybe have coaches in the booth relay signals to the players like in football.
  • When making a pitching change the relief pitcher will run in from the bullpen. Teams may be worried that running all of 200 feet will make their athlete tired, so let’s get a cart out there to drive them from the pen to the mound, wouldn’t want to waste any energy!
  • Extra innings- if the game is tied after the 9th inning and is headed to extra innings, then both teams will be able to choose any 3 batters to start the 10th. If after 10th inning, if the score is still tied then both teams will choose one batter to go head to head in a Home Run Derby round. 20 pitches and whoever has the most home runs at the end will win the game. It seemed to work well in the NHL when they eliminated tied games and had a shootout, a fan favorite, to decide the game. Wouldn’t a Home Run Derby be even better?
  • Limit the number of pitching changes to 3 a game. What happened to when pitchers would go the entire game win or lose? The constant stop and inaction as the manager brings in one reliever to face one batter then changes pitchers the next batter is boring and slows the game down to a crawl.  A relief pitcher should be able to get outs no matter the matchup.
  • Eliminate 20 games! It’s too long of a schedule and the casual fan loses interest until the end of the season when things get interesting anyway.

Will my suggestions save baseball and bring back the casual fan that may have lost his way with the temptation of the never-ending action of soccer? Absolutely.  Will MLB owners jump on board? With no time for commercials they may not be as enthused. But hey, if they really want to bring baseball back as America’s national pastime, something big needs to be done! Mr. Manfred, the ball is in your field.

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