Jim Bowden at ESPN recently offered some potential new rules for baseball that may come up this winter with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Some of these ideas seem more interesting than others, some more fun than others, and some seem more likely than others. But I have ideas too! The best ideas! Ideas on how to shorten games! And make them sweeter! And now I’m going to impress those ideas upon your very mind.
Eliminate Extra Innings
Sure, you could do this the easy way and just immediately settle for a tie after nine innings have been completed. But as long as we’re stealing ideas from other sports, let’s steal another. Soccer and hockey both have variations of shoot-outs at the end of their regulation periods. At least, I think they do, I know they did in The Mighty Ducks.
So you could have a home run derby, but that wouldn’t really benefit the Royals. And since I cheer for the Royals my ideas might as well benefit them or at least give them a fighting chance. So here is my proposal.
At the end of regulation nine innings each team selects three hitters who have not been substituted out of the game and one pitcher who has similarly not been substituted out of the game. Already you can see how this increases the strategy necessary. Is it worth the risk to pinch run in the eighth inning? There would also be an element of guessing at your opponent's strategy because neither manager may know the pitcher or hitters selected by the other manager ahead of time.
The pitcher of one team faces the hitters of the other team and points are awarded or subtracted based on the results of at-bats. So, for example, perhaps -3 points for a strike out, -2 points for an out on the infield, and -1 point for an out to an outfielder. To keep the defense invested in all of this, once a hitter makes contact with a ball, he won’t stop running until he makes an out on the bases and gets points for each base he touches. If the fielders throw the ball out of play that’s automatically 5 more points for the hitter or something similar.
After all six batters from both teams have had their turn, whichever team has the most points wins. If there’s still a tie, then call it a tie and move on. People are worried about the popularity of baseball, well football and real football both allow for ties, and those are the most popular sports, right? Removing the primary difference between baseball and those two sports should increase love for it both in the US and worldwide!
Alternately they could just have a bat flip contest. The flips could be judged on distance, number of rotations, and general flare by a panel of judges to determine the winner.
Allow In-game Forfeits
Remember playing in little league and how they had mercy rules to prevent games from lasting forever when one team so clearly dominated? We should institute those in baseball as well. No one’s watching anymore after tone team goes up by eight runs anyway. Not only would this shorten games, but it would increase player health and energy from having less baseball to play without reducing the actual number of games.
At the start of the sixth inning and every remaining inning if a team is down by six or more runs they may declare a forfeit and everyone can go home. Simple, sweet, and fast.
The Designated Fielder
Labor negotiations are coming up, and if baseball wants to push some of its grand ideas through, they’re going to have to give the players’ union some incentives. Max mentioned that the union loves the Designated Hitter because it allows for players with certain skill sets to get paid while lacking in other areas. This would do the same, but for guys who can field really well but can't hit a lick.
Guys like Bubba Starling and Terrance Gore could be legitimate big league players if they just didn’t have to swing their bats. There are definitely probably maybe even guys on other teams who might be the same way! You can either replace them with a second designated hitter or simply reduce the lineup length to eight batters, which would increase the speed of games because there would be fewer batters. Two birds with one stone!
Eliminate the Sacrifice Bunt
Remember how baseball wants to do away with actually throwing the four balls for the intentional walk to speed up the game? Let’s do the same thing with the sacrifice bunt. I mean, what are the odds it ends up with a result other than the runners advancing and the batter being out? I mean...sure... it happens. But it can’t be all that often, can it? Let’s just speed things up!
This has the added benefit of reducing the number of pitches a pitcher needs to throw, because now he isn’t trying to force the bunting batter to pop it up or whiff somehow. And, best of all for Royals fans, it eliminates the batter bunting on his own! There would have to be a signal from the manager. It also promotes player health because guys don’t seem to know how to keep their fingers out of the way, and other guys think that pitchers should throw at the heads of bunting players which also sounds pretty dangerous.
It’s past time "America’s Pastime" passed less time. Those are my ideas for improving baseball. I can’t wait for them to be implemented next year! Do you have any ideas? I bet you do! They’re not as good as my ideas, obviously, but you should tell them to me anyway so I can steal - I mean so I can promote them for you!