Seven rules changes I'd like to see

In my heart, I'm actually something of a baseball traditionalist.  I don't like change.  I don't want the game changed much at all.  But there are a handful of rules changes which I'd actually support.  Some of these are reasonable, realistic and doable.  Others are more of a reach and won't ever happen.  

1. Electronic ball and strike calls
Game Improvement Factor: 8 (out of 10)
Likelihood of enactment: 7 (but it will likely be many years)

Nothing frustrates me more than the inconsistent strike zones from umpire to umpire, game to game, and sometimes pitch to pitch.  While it would need to be further developed, refined and perfected, the technology currently exists to have an electric "eye" call balls and strikes.  In my proposal, the Questec/Pitch f/x system would determine the ball/strike call and instantly relay it to an earpiece which the home plate umpire is wearing and then he would actually make the call.  So, the fans in the stands and watching on TV would not notice a difference.  What would be different is that every ball which touches the strike zone would be a called a strike.  That would be a refreshing change.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a strike zone that every pitcher and batter could rely on?  It would definitely help pitchers with good control and hitters with a good eye.  But mostly it would make the strike zone as clear and reliable as the foul lines.

Wouldn't it be fun to see Ozzie Guillen yelling at a computer screen?

2. No Designated Hitter
Game improvement factor: 5
Likelihood of enactment: 2

The American League has had the designated hitter for almost all of my life and certainly all of the time I have been following baseball.  So I am certainly used to it, but I've never liked it.  It is an odd construct meant to artificially increasing offense and scoring.  I greatly prefer baseball without a designated hitter, with all of the tactical decisions and options that go with it.  And the game doesn't need more offense; it needs less.  There are far too many 10-run games.

What do you mean I can't DH?  If you don't let me DH I'm going to crush my manager against you like a grape!

3. Very limited instant replay
Game improvement factor: 7
Likelihood of enactment: 9

I don't love instant replay in any sport.  I hate the 5 minute breaks in NFL games for instant replay.  Although they do help to make the right call many times, it is a major break in the flow of the game.  But in a situation where the flow of the game would be broken for several minutes anyway, why not make sure the call is correct by using instant replay.  That is why I would be in favor using instant replay for determining home run calls.  We've all seen situations where a ball went deep and no one is quite sure if it was fair or foul or if the ball went over the yellow line or if it hit a railing.  And the difference between a home run and a ground rule double or a foul ball is obviously huge.

Currently, in such circumstances, what happens is that the manager comes out and argues.  Then the umpires all get together and talk about it for a few minutes before making a final call which may be the same as or different from the original call.  Often, the umpires really aren't sure and they just have to make some call.  So what would be the harm in having managers initiate a replay review under these circumstances, much as they do in the NFL?  Managers get one or two a game, they inform the home plate umpire that they want it reviewed, he goes into the dugout to watch a monitor for a finite period of time and then makes the call.  And to prevent further delay, the rule can state that managers who argue the instant replay call are automatically ejected (similar to the rule against arguing balls and strikes).  This proposed rule would not increase game delays and it would definitely increase accuracy in home run calls.

A version of this was approved by the general managers early this winter.  It was then sent to the commissioner's office.  Unsurprisingly, the comissioner's office hasn't done anything with it.  That office announced some very minor rules changes a couple weeks ago, with no mention of instant replay.

A MLB umpire standing at one of these machines would look 36% less foolish.

4. Home field advantage for the World Series determined by record
Game improvement factor: 2
Likelihood of enactment: 6

Determing World Series home field advantage by the winner of an exhibition game where players are substituted randomly every other inning is one of the stupidest moves MLB has ever made.  While disparities in the quality of competition in the two leagues makes this solution imperfect, it is a definite improvement over the current rule.

Regardless of home field advantage, the Red Sox would have swept the Rockies or any generic "National League Champion"

5. A little ball doctoring
Game improvement factor: 2
Likelihood of enactment: 0

I don't know about you, but I love watching pitches that have a lot of movement.  There's nothing more impressive than a pitcher really fooling a batter with pitch that starts on one directional vector dives in another.  I'd like to see more of this.  To that end, I would be in favor of allow pitchers to scuff the ball a little.  Pitchers would be allowed to scuff or otherwise deface the ball as much as they want with the following limitations:  1) They can't use any tools or objects.  They have to use their hands, fingers and fingernails.  No nail files, tacks or anything else.  2)  They can't add any foreign substances to the ball.  No spit, pine tar, vaseline, vagisil or anything else.  One might worry that this will slow down the game as pitchers stand on the mound working diligently to scuff the ball.  But MLB has time limits on pitchers now which prevent this.  A pitcher would have to get it done fairly quickly.

Back in the early days of professional baseball, owners were more cost conscious.  One of the effects of this was that balls were kept in the game much longer than they are now.  Nowadays, if a ball is a little scuffed or dirty, the umpire will immediately throw the ball out of the game.  In the old days, balls would often get scuffed and dirty over the course of a game and a new, clean ball or "pearl" would only be inserted into the game when necessary.  The trend towards pristine baseballs has taken away an important part of a pitcher's arsenal.  One of the better pitchers in major league history Eddie Cicotte has a signature pitched called the "shine ball."  He would dirty up, scuff and otherwise doctor one side of the ball and "shine" the other side by repeatedly rubbing it on the leg of his pants.  It created a ball which was visually deceptive because it was two-tone with  unpredictable movement because of the aerodynamic differences of the two sides of the ball.  I would propose that umpires not throw out every baseball which isn't pristine.  The balls should be kept in until they are unplayable or until the pitcher requests a new one.  While my rules change would not allow a true shine ball, it would give more options to pitchers.

Gaylord Perry was scufflicious for eight major league teams, although he preferred foreign substances and nail files over the fingernails god gave him.

6. Raise the pitching mound
Game improvement factor: 5
Likelihood of enactment: 3

In 1904, a uniform 15-inch pitching mound was instituted.  This mound height continued through the golden age of baseball and for a total of 65 years.  In 1969, MLB overreacted to the offense-light baseball of the 60's by lowering mound height to 10 inches.  Since then a variety of factors have conspired to push up hitting power and runs per game up incredibly.  It is time to readjust the pitching-hitting equilibrium.  I would be in favor of taking the mound height back up to the traditional 15 inches, but I'd be happy with anything in the 12-15 inch range.

This mound is currently under construction.

7. More interleague games
Game improvement factor: 2
Likelihood of enactment: 5

In addition to being a fan of the Royals, I'm a fan of baseball.  Like many fans, I'm pretty familiar with teams in other divisions and in the other league.  I'd like the Royals to face more NL teams so I can see them face some teams from each NL divison every year.  Throw in some weighted "parity scheduling" like the NFL does and you've also got a schedule which helps poorer, perpetually losing teams.

There are interesting teams to play in purple, brown and green states too.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.