By: Monte Perez
When I was growing up, baseball was the most popular sport in America. But, to call baseball the National Pastime now, is like calling Madison Square Garden the “Mecca of Basketball”, it is just not accurate. The Woman’s world cup soccer finals, USA vs. Japan, had a higher rating than last years’ World Series. Bob Costas and baseball purest may not want to hear or read this, but, baseball is on the decline.
To quote the Movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks, “The (Odyssey) Baseball is dying”, and from where I am standing these are the only options. Let me make my intent perfectly clear. These rule changes must come into effect for baseball to survive long-term. The facts are in, the millennials are no longer watching baseball.
In 2014, the average length of a MLB game was three hours, two minutes and 23 seconds. In 2014, the average length of an NFL game was three hours and 12 minutes. Football is longer, so why is it the most popular sport in America?
The answer is simple, in the NFL there is constant action. Teams have gone to the hurry up, no huddle offense, so there are fewer breaks. In baseball, you get a lull or a break after every batter and after every inning. We live in a society that wants “everything now”, instant gratification, and baseball is not holding people’s attention. Every major sport; football, basketball and hockey, have implemented rules to enhance the offense, speed up the game and make it more exciting for the fans, baseball hasn’t done this.
A few years ago baseball banned over 100 supplements and the direct results is that offense is down. When you watch a hockey playoff game or a baseball playoff game a 1-0 score is exciting, but when you watch that same game during the regular season it is very boring. There are only two teams in the Major leagues that have a team batting average of over .270, the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals. Compare that to the year 2000, there were 17 teams that finished the season with a team batting average of over .270.
Here are 3 radical rule changes to save baseball:
1.) Make all baseball games 7 innings: The MLB has experimented with a pitching shot clock to speed up the game. I don’t like that idea. Make the game 7 innings and go to a hockey scoring system. You get two points for a win and 1 point for a tie. The only time there would be extra innings would be during the playoffs. This will cut down the wear and tear of players and pitchers. (One-third of current MLB pitchers have had Tommy John surgery. Of the about 360 who started the season, 124 share the all-too-familiar triangular scar).
2.) Got to a designated hitter in the National League: To watch a pitcher get up is the most ridiculous and boring thing about baseball. It is an automatic out almost every time. Let baseball batters hit, not pitchers who get up once every five games. Again, every sport implements rules to help the offense. The National League hasn’t done this and it has hurt the team’s offensive output.
3.) All parks should have the same home run dimensions: I never understood why every MLB field is different. All NFL fields are the same and all NBA courts are the same. Move the fences in on all ball parks so when you are on the road or at home, offenses can thrive
4.) No more multiple pitching changes per inning: The only way a pitcher can come out of a game is if he has let up two or more runs per inning. This way we don’t have one pitcher come in, pitch to a batter and leaves the game.
5.) No more intentional walks: If a manger is going to intentionally walk a batter. He has to let the umpire know before the batter gets up to bat. This way we don’t sit and watch 4 balls being throw to the catcher. This is not the Bad News Bears, Kelly Lee is not going to swing at an intentional walk. It is a waste of time for everyone involved.
I hope baseball will read what I wrote above. The sport needs new life and new ideas.
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