Chicks dig the long-ball. We all know that. Offense sells tickets, but defense and pitching win Championships. Baseball ‘s appeal may never be greater than it is right now, but I am going to suggest that a large part of that appeal is from the baby-boomers – guys like me who grew up when baseball was part of the fabric of society and we only had 3 or 4 channels to watch on TV.
Times have changed. Lack of availability of steroids appear to be having an impact upon the longevity of older players. The game is slow and plodding (yeah I get all the strategy), but it needs to speed up. Replay is absolutely necessary when the game hinges on inches. It way past time to change the Grand Old Game and I have six (6) suggestions:
- Expand the use of the Designated Hitter – Of course, I mean to the NL as well as the AL, but I want to expand it even more. I suggest that each team can designate a hitter to be their DH and he can hit up to 4 times during a 9-inning game, but he does not occupy a position. He can pinch hit for any hitter ay any time, but if he hits for any hitter 3 times, that hitter, or pitcher has to come out of the game. So, Hanley Ramirez could hit for the 2nd baseman in the first inning, AJ Ellis in the 3rd inning and the pitcher in the 5th and 7th inning, but he can only hit 4 times during a regulation game, so you might have to save his final AB until the 9th inning. In extra innings, he can hit each inning. This woud bring a lot excitement back to the game and keep aging start around longer.
- Institute a Designated Runner – Guys like Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon may not ever hit enough to be an everyday player, but their feet could really excite the fans. Same deal as the DH. The DR can substitute 4 times during a regular season game. For instance, maybe Andre Ethier can’t run, but can hit. Dee Gordon can run for him 4 times a game and he doesn’t have to come out. Purists are going to hate this, but you have to admit it would be exciting.
- Fifteen-Seconds Between Pitches – If the pitcher doesn’t throw it, within 15 seconds, it’s a ball and if the hitter isn’t ready, it’s a strike. Yes, I know many of you don’t like it, but this generation doesn’t like sports that take a long time. Witness the success of the NFL.
- Pitchers can throw to a base only twice – If they throw a third time without getting the runner, the runner is awarded the next base. Speed up the game!
- Laser the strike zone – Let the Umpires call balls and strikes, but allow 5 appeals per game by the laser. It’s instantaneous. Get the call right in key situations. Tennis uses laser technology – baseball can too.
- Expand Instant Replay – Phantom double plays, false calls at 1B, botched positioning and the like all cause games to depend upon critical calls. People don’t like injustice. See that justice is served.
That’s my plan to save and re-rejuvenate baseball. I think it would work. I’m ready to get castigated by the old-timers. It’s OK – I just want the game to move into the 21st Century. It’s the game I love.