I used to love baseball. I mean LOVE it. I had season tickets to the Braves at age 26. I liked everything about it and then one day, almost overnight baseball became a drag. We need to get busy fixing baseball.
A friend of mine pointed it out to me: Baseball is for people with lots of free time: kids, college students, single professionals, and retirees. Baseball isn’t for people who are married, have kids, or are in the prime of their careers.
He’s right. Sure, I’ll go to a baseball game here and there, but I’m not really following the team day to day or week to week. I’m too busy living my life. Most of my friends are the same way. I have a friend that is a former major league ball player and even he doesn’t follow things as closely as he did before he had kids and a professional career.
So, that’s the problem with baseball. How to fix it? Glad you asked.
How to Fix Baseball
Some might say baseball doesn’t need to be fixed, but that’s dumb. Revenue in MLB was up last year and probably will be for the next several years because Boomer’s are entering their retirement in huge numbers. That’s a lot of people with nothing but time on their hands. However, young and single millennials aren’t going to the ballpark. That means they won’t return to the ball park.
Make Baseball like English Soccer
For my first idea we need to look no further than the Premier League in England. They have a relegation system where the bottom 4 teams in the top league each year are relegated to a lower division and the best 4 teams from the lower division are moved up into the top division.
Baseball has a system in place right now that could accomplish the same thing: The Minor Leagues. From Single A all the way to the Majors we have stadiums, personnel, etc. that could recreate this system. How fun would it be to see some of baseball’s best Triple A teams get a chance to play in the majors? How great would it be to send down to Triple A teams like the 2015 Braves who stunk it up last year?
Imagine the Braves playing a full season in Triple A. Maybe the Gwinnett Braves would replace the
Cobb Atlanta Braves in the majors. That stadium in Gwinnett would sell out every night as some of the best teams in the majors would play in Gwinnett for a whole season.
Local teams would have some real excitement.
Shorten the Games
Baseball takes FOREVER. The WSJ published an article comparing football and baseball and found that baseball has an average of 18 minutes of action during a game while football has an average of 11 minutes of action. You’d think baseball would therefore be more entertaining, but its not.
The difference is that football is FULL of action, players walking on and off the field after each play, a play clock that demands the teams to put the ball in play, the suspense of not knowing what is going to happen when the play starts.
None of those things are true about baseball. Every play is the same: Pitcher throws the ball to the batter, batter may or may not swing, batter may or may not make contact with the ball, ball may or may not be put into play. The other players all just stand around and watch.
I won’t get into the rules about play in baseball, except to say that the current rules (if enforced) are enough to keep the game moving along. With all the delays and warmups and stretching, and adjusting between plays, the fatigue factor is almost nil. That’s what makes football great. Teams get tired and play isn’t as crisp and turnovers happen. There is never the possibility of a turnover in baseball. Play continues until the team has 3 outs.
I’d like to see games shortened by making the athletes perform without rest delays during the game. Pitchers should not have more than 15 seconds to deliver the ball after it is returned from the catcher. Batters are not allowed to adjust anything after stepping into the box. Each team is given 3 time outs per game. If a batter wants to adjust something, call timeout, but that’s one.
Managers can visit the mound, but that’s a timeout.
The games would get much faster if we did this and would be way more entertaining. Can this pitcher last 4 innings? It looks like that batter’s gloves are slipping…uh oh!
Shorten the Season
Games start in April and the regular season doesn’t end until late September. The world series concludes in November. 162 games are played by each team each season. That’s a lot of baseball. That is so many games that the St. Louis Cardinals won the most games and still lost 62 games.
The regular season doesn’t even really matter as long as you can win a little over half of your games. If I’m a casual fan, I’m not going to be interested in the regular season, and by the time you start your playoffs I’m going to be watching football. Unless my team is in the hunt, baseball is over for me as soon as football starts.
The season needs to end, including the playoffs by the end of September. Cut as many games as you need to make that happen. As big of a baseball fan as I was I only made it to all 81 home games one season that was in 2007. By the end of it I was so sick and tired of going to the ballpark. It was like a job. I had all the free time in the world and I was still sick of it.
Putting it all together
If we combined all of my ideas here’s what it would look like:
- Beginning in April of each year the 30 Major League Baseball Teams would begin their season.
- Each team would play 4 games against each of the other teams for a 116 game season.
- This would consist of a 2 game series in one half of the season and a 2 game series in the second half of the season.
- The game would have a 2.5 hour time limit or 9 innings, which ever comes first.
- Pitchers would be on a pitch clock
- Batters are not allowed to leave the box.
- The Season would be split into halves: April/May/1st Half of June and 2nd Half of June/July/August
- September would hold the entirety of the playoffs and world series with a small break between rounds.
- 3 Game Divisional Series, 5 Game Championship Series, and 7 Game World Series
- At the end of the season the 4 worst MLB teams would be replaced by the best Triple A Teams.
This will not be popular, but man it would make it exciting. Adding a time limit always makes things more exciting, add in the risk of being relegated, and a shorter regular season and you’d have fireworks every year.