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Blog Entry

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

Posted on: February 15, 2012 2:34 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 3:17 pm
 
By Matt Snyder

We're just a few days until all 30 teams will have had pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Just like any true baseball fan, I'm giddy with excitement.

Just like with anything, the major-league level sport could use some improvements. While MLB was tied with college football for the second-most popular sport in a Harris Interactive poll, the demographics show that baseball is in danger of drastically losing popularity, as the study showed most baseball fans are older than 50. Now, obviously that gives a solid 20-year window before doomsday really hits, but baseball still needs to be cognizant that growing the younger audience is key for long-term growth.

That means baseball needs to be a little more Blackberry/iPhone and a little less rotary phone. Remember, not all change is bad. At one point in time, it was a home run when the ball bounced over the fence. I wonder what the "purists" thought when they changed it to a ground-rule double? If you wanna call me names and claim I'm not a purist, below you'll find several targets. But make no mistake about it, I'm trying to find ways to make the game more exciting for the next generation. In this century, things move faster and people have less time to pay attention. Adapt or die, as "Billy Beane" said in "Moneyball."

So here are nine things I'd change about baseball in order to make it better suited for the next generation. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section and make this an interactive discussion.

1. Put in a pitch clock. I'm dead serious -- put it up like basketball has a shot clock. Not only is it, you know, a freaking rule that pitchers have to throw a pitch within 12 seconds of getting the ball, but this would add some drama for many younger fans. The best reason, obviously, is that the umpires would actually be forced to enforce the rule that they so often just ignore. The rulebook (Rule 8.04) states "The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball."

Has anyone ever watched Josh Beckett (pictured right, surely finding a way to avoid throwing a pitch within the first 20 seconds he has the baseball) pitch? I bet he's had outings where he never once threw a pitch within 12 seconds. It makes me feel like I'm watching Steve Traschel all over again ... well, except that Beckett's actually good. I'm not blaming Beckett. The umpires let him do it and he's not alone at all (Vicente Padilla also comes to mind). Just using him as an example.

2. Get someone with some common sense to rework the blackout rules. I've covered this before, so just click through and see how amazingly stupid it is. Bud Selig needs to hire someone to do something about it. Hell, I'll throw my hat in the ring and volunteer.

3. More Saturday day games. Sunday is fine, because everyone plays a day game with the exception of the ESPN Sunday Night Game. And I understand weekday games needing to be at night. But on Saturday, we usually get about three afternoon games and the rest are at night. This is the best time for families to get their kids to the game and many families don't like to have their kids out at the ballpark late Saturday night for many reasons. Why not just start the Saturday games at 1:00 p.m. local time? Especially when school is in session. I also wouldn't mind seeing Game 3 of the World Series falling on a Saturday afternoon. It's not like Saturday night is prime for TV ratings.

4. Expand replay to everything but balls and strikes. Why does someone like Ron Kulpa or Jim Joyce have to be burdened with an honest missed call for the rest of his life? The Joe Wests of the world are in the minority here, as most of the umpires are honest, hard-working guys who just want to get the call right. As the fast motion and without the benefit of multiple camera angles, calls are going to get missed. The insane thing is we have the technology to show they were wrong within seconds, yet don't allow the umpires to use it. Why not just have a centralized review office at the MLB headquarters where one replay official watches every game? You don't need to give the managers challenges or have the entire umpiring crew go underneath the stadium for 15 minutes. Let's just use some common sense and start getting every call correct. It's very possible.

5. Make the DH universal. I've written about this before and the reasons are very simple. First of all, it's insane that a professional sports organization has a different set of rules for two leagues, especially when the leagues play each other during the regular season and decide a champion by facing each other in the World Series. So you either have to take the DH away from the AL or add it to the NL.

And here's where the purists freak out and start calling me names, since I say add it to the NL. I wouldn't be averse to taking it away from the AL, just as long as the same rules are applied to both leagues. But adding to NL makes more sense here. The first reason is that the players union would obviously never allow the DH to go away, as it would cost jobs to veteran players. The second reason is it's better for offense, and we're trying to get kids to watch the games, remember? Plus, pitchers suck at hitting. We're supposed to be watching pro athletes at their best ... also realize teams don't have to use a DH. So if the Marlins want to bat Carlos Zambrano, for example, more power to them. Just don't come with this "baseball is meant to be played both in the field and at bat" junk. Pitching is a specialization. You don't make a quarterback play defense in football anymore.

6. Out with penny-pinching owners. Among the many complaints I'm waiting on in the comments section is that I didn't mention a salary cap. Here's the deal: With baseball's system, players are under team control for six years. That's a lot longer than other sport. And with the revenue sharing system, many small-market clubs are making hefty profits. Take 2010 (Forbes.com hasn't released the 2011 numbers yet). Did you know three teams lost money that season? The Red Sox, Mets and Tigers. Large markets. Guess who had the highest operating income? The Padres, who made almost $40 million. And after the season they traded superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for prospects because they couldn't "afford" to sign him long term.

The problem with the difference in payrolls is mostly on these tight-fisted owners from the old boys club of owners. Just over a week ago, Joe Sheehan of SI.com wrote an excellent article about how owners like the Royals' David Glass, Athletics' Lew Wolff, Pirates' Robert Nutting and Blue Jays' Rogers Corporation are pocketing millions upon millions while crying that they can't afford high-priced talent (though I'd probably cut the Jays out there, to be fair).

The money is there, so it should be spent on improving the on-field product, not the bottom line of a billionaire. The fans of these teams and others deserve better. There should be more George Steinbrenners -- who would rather lose money while the team wins than vice versa -- not less.

7. Shorten spring training. The always-entertaining Brandon McCarthy, A's starting pitcher, wrote the following about spring training last week for SI.com's Hot Clicks: "It's so, so, so LONG: It's six weeks of practice and pretend games. It just never seems to end. It's like our version of Oregon Trail. By the time camp ends, someone's died of Dysentery, there's a bunch of new kids that have been born, and your feet are killing you."

He's right. How many fake games do you need? Cut out two weeks and ...

8. Start/end the season earlier. The reasoning is two-pronged. The first prong is that baseball in cold weather isn't near as enjoyable as baseball in warm weather. With the World Series creeping up on November, there are just too many chances for weather issues during the most important games of the year (remember Game 5 of the Phillies-Rays series). If spring training was shortened, the season could begin the third week of March. Yes, weather is bad for the first several weeks of the season in many parts of the country, but the scheduling is easier then. There are enough warm-weather and retractable-roof teams to cover the first month. The games aren't nearly as important as the playoff games and in the playoffs you don't get to choose the venue (how about a Minnesota vs. Chicago World Series in the first week of November? Shivers everywhere). So you'd start the playoffs the third week of September and the World Series would be over in the middle of October. The second prong is you cut away time in competition with the NFL. Sorry, the NFL is a monster and there's no changing that in the near future, so don't compete with it anymore than necessary. Two less weeks of facing off against the NFL would be great for the sport of baseball.

9. Blackball Jose Canseco. Oh wait, I guess he claims that already happened. Whatever, just please go away, Jose. Take Lenny Dykstra with you. #4TRUTH. Yes, I realize this doesn't have to do with MLB, but I just can't stand these guys. The game is much better without having them around it.

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Comments

Since: May 16, 2011
Posted on: February 24, 2012 6:19 am
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

You forgot a huge one to speed up the game
STOP Batters from stepping out of the box after every pitch and doing an ancient indian rain dance between each pitch.
Stay in the box!!!
If you step out for more than 3 seconds I'm calling a strike against you..... get in the box
Years ago you had maybe 1 player stepping out
NOW every player does it fixes his jock, spits in his hands, touchs his foot to his ears...whatever your ritual no one wants to see it 
STOP IT!!!!

and one more thing
Stop with the idea that if you give me 6 innings as a starter you did a good job.
This is what the pitcher has in his mind going into the game 6 innings 6 innings why not NINE! 

 



Since: Dec 23, 2009
Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:08 am
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

This may be the best article that I have read on baseball and it's diminishing popularity.  Thanks Matt Snyder ...... As for my post, I am almost 33 years old and have played baseball since I was 5.  I have always loved baseball, but as I have gotten older, I have started to shy away from watching or playing the sport.  Not because of more priorities, but because the sport has lost interest. 

Whether you like it or not, we now live in a generation of instant access.  We want things NOW and we want them FASTER!  Newspapers are going the way of horse and carriage because we have moved into the world of the internet; which by comparison is the car.  Baseball is the horse and carriage, while football is the car.  Baseball REFUSES to acknowledge the times that we live in and REFUSES to adapt.  Footbal does!

I have a 17 month old son and I seriously have doubts in introducing him to baseball.  WHY??? Because in 20 years I envision baseball going the same route as hockey (maybe less than 20 years).  I'm not going to force my kid into sports, but the reality is that some parent has to introduce their son to baseball in 2012 in order for that child to have interest in playing the sport in 2032.  Unless there are changes to baseball, I'm not that parent.  And I know plenty of others who feel the same way.


1 - The Pitch Clock ............ I never knew this was a rule in the MLB, but now that I do know it is a rule, I am even more upset with baseball.  Why make a rule and then don't enforce it????  No wonder why players take steriods.  They knew that baseball would just look the other way regarding the rule just like they do with the pitch clock.  this game needs to be sped up.  SHAME ON YOU BASEBALL!  ENFORCE YOUR OWN RULES!!!

2 - Blackout Rule ............ Plain and simple; if you want more people to watch your sport, PUT IT ON TV.  Re-do the contracts with these TV stations and get the game on TV regardless of the number of people attending the games.

3 - Saturday day games .......... This is a no brainer!  The majority of men that will be playing pro baseball 20 years from now are currently between the ages of 0 and 10 years old.  As a parent, I'd much rather take my kid to a game at 1PM, end at 4PM, home by 5-5:30PM.  Versuses a game at 7:30PM, end at 10:30PM, home by 11:30-12AM.  And I think a large majority of parents would agree with me. 

4 - REPLAY - Picture any business that depends on customers to make money, saying "We don't really like this technology gimmick, therefore we will not accept credit cards.  CASH ONLY!"   I think that business will soon be OUT of business.  ..... So why does baseball refuse to embrace modern technology and take advance of getting the calls right?  Just like Matt Synder says, extend replay to everything except balls and strikes.

5 - DH ............. Ahhhhhhh!  This is the best one of the 9 changes.  Imagine your job saying that women have one set of rules to abide by while men have another set of rules.  This is what baseball is doing.  Yes, it is that drastic of a difference!  American league and its managers; score more runs, play longer games, managers strategize less, pitchers and position players do less to earn the same amount of money as their opposites ......... I think you get the point!  Why are there two seperate rules for the same organization?  I'm in favor of no DH at all, but whatever you choose, MAKE IT THE SAME! 
But like Matt says, MLBPA will not allow the reduction of 14 less jobs (14 American league teams each with a DH).  MLBPA are like defense attorneys defending a guilty client.  If you know your client is guilty, turn him/her in (but obviously they don't).  MLBPA, if you know that the American league (DH and pitchers) does less to earn their money and slow down the game, TURN THEM IN (get rid of DH)!

6 - Cheap Owners ...... I'm in favor of a salary cap.  I'm never hated on George Steinbrenner.  In fact, I think he was/is great for the game.  He understood that a quality product would result in more sales (better team on the field would equal more fans). 
There is a reason why football is number one in this country.  Every year, each team and its fan base has a great chance at competing for a playoff spot.  WHY?  Competitive balance!  Too bad I can't say the same for baseball.  WHY?  No minimum and maximum salary cap. PERIOD!!!

7 - Spring Training .......... 6 weeks of practice! Really!! ... 30 pre-season games! REALLY!! .... Cut pre-season by 2 weeks and start the season 2 weeks later.  This leads right into the 8th way to improve baseball .....

8 - Start/End of season .......... In this world of equal rights, it is not right for Northeast and North-central teams to start every season on the road or in a dome.  Therefore, push the season back one or two weeks and end the season one or two weeks later.  Include more doubleheaders and this would equal a 150 game season instead on 162.  Once again, we are in a new age.  Do we really need 162 games to determine a division or wild card winner?  Remember, this is an age of NOW and FASTER!  The proof is in cell and smart phones!  Not the 162-game rotary phone!!!

9 - Blackball Jose Canseco ....... This is just stupid!  As a matter of fact, I take back what I said in the first sentence.  This is the worst article I have read on baseball and it's diminishing popularity.  If players are as good as their last game, then journalist are as good as the last words they post! ...... So here is my actual 9th way to improve baseball.

9a - FIRE BUD SELIG!!!  ...... Presidents get elected every 4 years and so should baseball commissioners... OK ... So that isn't a good analogy.  But Bud still needs to be fired.  Why take so long to have instant replay?  Why determine which team gets home field advantage in the World Series based on which league wins an EXHIBITION GAME (aka All Star game)?  Why KNOWLINGLY allow steriods to be taken by players?  In any other form of government or business, I person would get fired if they KNOWINGLY allowed employees to corrupt the business.  Why does Bud Selig get a pass?  As a matter of fact, why does he get an extension from the owners?????  Because the owners liked the fact that he did this.  It's called COLLUSION!!!  And the owners should get penalized too!  If government can look into players lying about taking steriods, they can look into this collusion by baseball and the owners.


For all of those people reading this who are 50 and older who are the baseball purist; I have respect for you.  However, you had children so that someone would carry on your name and legacy.  Who's going to carry on the name and legacy of baseball?  You had your rock n' roll and R&B records despite your parents arguments.  Let the children have their rap and female weirdos (Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj)!  .......... Now that's a whole other topic!



Since: Mar 3, 2011
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:01 am
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

I agree. I could live with most of the changes except changing the DH in the National League. I would rather see the American League drop the designated hitter and make both leagues play without it. I think you have a lot of stratagy that is lost with the DH. Their is enough offense (runs scored) with the eight position players. It also makes the managers decide if he should let the pitcher hit or bring in a pinch hitter for him. It also makes the pitcher become a complete player when he has to grab a bat.  



Since: Apr 14, 2011
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:07 am
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

I agree with most points and I agree with the premis in # 5 but the conclusion should be to get rid of the D. H. Look at the huge salaries been paid to over the hill players.Take this away and there would be more substituting and pinch hitting and giving more younger players a chance to play and redistributing the D. H. pay over the rest of the team.It would cut out the ridiculous long contracts that are given to players with the plan to D.H. them in the latter part of their careers.



Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: February 21, 2012 7:47 am
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

Bring back the Roids...homeruns and offense are down, let these guys juice up and make the games more interesting...Also
I like the other ideas, I just dont see how can you get rid of the penny pinching owners though...The Indians owner Dolan only bought the team to turn a small profit, with no desire to win...I never could understand why people hated Steinbrenner for spending money, it's not like he had so much more money than all the other owners, he wanted to win...Too many teams dont care about winning...But the biggest problem is there are far too many games...40 games should be cut off the schedule...Start a month later and end a month sooner...



Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: February 20, 2012 7:53 pm
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

I agree Maltz,  As a Sox fan these long games are horrible to watch  (not counting Orsillo and Remy(who, all he says, is telling me what just happened, like no chit!!!))..  especiallly when they keep putting Sox vs Yankees on Sunday night baseball 4 hrs plus..

If everybody would pitch like James Shields and Roy Halladay to name a few,  games would be alot quicker also..
 use the 12 second rule that is in the RULE book!!!!!

I counted 20+ seconds many times last year when Beckett and Lester pitch in a game.

Also, I don't care what Steve Palermo says in his 500? page book,  The DH doesn't make the games last 3 1/2 - 4 hours compared to that of the NL..  Case in point it depends on whose pitching, hitting and umpiring..  and call the damn strike that is 1 inch over the belt line not the ones that are 6-7 inches off the plate.

Many of todays hitters like to see 5-6 pitches per at bat,  that takes time..

How about the 6 minutes each innning for commercials?   that's 54 minutes per game.    Back in the seventies inning breaks were alot shorter..

I am also tired of $45 to park my car,  $10 beers,  $4.50 Hot Dogs, $4.00 piss warm cokes and waters...

These high salaries etc, cause all of this...

Where are the saturday games like when we were kids,   earlier starting times of the games so the kids can watch too...!

ok, enough venting...    Can't wait for Baseball to start..

 



Since: Feb 19, 2012
Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:41 pm
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

There are a number of good ideas here. Maybe 12 seconds isn't the right number, but as a Sox fan...well darn those games are long. I've said for a long time that the season should start earlier, with early games in the south, west and in the domes. Yeah tough to always have opening day away from Fenway, but something about the World Series in November just seems wrong. I prefer NL baseball to the AL version due to the strategy, but agree we should go one way or the other. While we are at it, when a player gets traded from one league to the other, no need to reset the statistics. The bottom line is that baseball has to become more family friendly. How often can a family of 4 go to the park at $500 a pop? Without younger fans and bringing the families back, those $20 million salaries are on the endangered species list (maybe they should be anyway?)



Since: Nov 21, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:36 pm
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

the best way to make baseball better is 1 get rid of bud { I looked the other way while players used roids } selig 2 although im not a fan of the DH offer it to the players union in exchange for a salary cap but make it a cap where a certain amount has to be spent and an amount that you cant go over and those that go under the cap or over must pay a steep tax. 3 remove at least 1 week and possibly 2 weeks of spring training but leave yourself an out incase you see an increase of player injuries...on a side note I do kinda like the idea of saturday afternoon games, but being a asthmatic I have a very hard time breathing when it is really hot a humid so im ok with night games



Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:11 pm
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

What's wrong with having the DH in one league and not in the other???  If we starting tampering with this, the Players Union will make its foul presence known and the outcome will be that the NL will be forced to play the strategy-less DH game.  Leave things the way they are...then the DH advocates have something they like, and the purists will have something THEY like.  What's wrong with that?




Since: Jan 21, 2011
Posted on: February 19, 2012 2:10 pm
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

Why cant major league parks have an identical mound in each bull pen, you can still have the usuall practice mounds so multible pitchers can warm but  the guy whos going in next can throw off the mound built exactly like the one on the field.


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