MLB: Baseball Needs a Change-up.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Full disclosure: I’m fond of baseball. My father is a lifelong baseball fan, and he did an effective job of passing on his love of the game to me. Having said that, Major League Baseball now finds itself at a major crossroads. Baseball’s brand new Commissioner – Rob Manfred – has to face some old problems within his sport. In existence since 1869, baseball long ago ceded its title as “the nation’s pastime” to the National Football League. Baseball can be fixed – but outside-the-box thinking, technology, and an entirely different approach to marketing and advertising are sorely needed. As a new season begins, baseball needs a change-up.
Baseball could be made much more relevant with just a few basic tweaks. Some of my suggestions would cost no money to implement, while others would cost quite a bit of capital. If the goal is for Major League Baseball to thrive – not just survive in the years to come – here are some ways to accomplish that:
Slash the season. At 162 regular season games, baseball’s year is entirely too long. If the season were cut back to either 120 or 125 games, every one of those games would be made more important. That would be especially so for games between divisional rivals. A shorter season would help to create the sense of urgency Major League Baseball totally lacks.
Start the regular season sooner. If the inclination were there for the Commissioner and the owners of the various teams, this could be a relatively quick and easy fix. Shorten Spring Training to 2 weeks beginning in early February. That would allow teams to begin their regular season in the first week of March. The first half of the baseball season could be played in over the months of March, April, and May. The All-Star break could take place at the end of May instead of in early July. The second half of the baseball season could be played out over the months of June, July, and August.
Make the playoffs short, sweet, and intense. Imagine how cool it would be if the baseball playoffs began at the end of August – when the only competition is preseason NFL games, which everyone knows are just glorified practices/scrimmages. Cut out the extra days between the individual playoff games. Shouldn’t the playoff games have the consistency of the regular season games in terms of pace and normalcy? This fix is one of the most problematic because in order to work, the number of playoff teams would have to be reduced. Then again, perhaps the best AL and NL teams in terms of records could be given a bye into the League Championship Playoffs. The other 4 teams would have to play their way there.
Adjust TV times for playoff games. When I was a kid, I remember ACLS, NCLS, and World Series played during the afternoon on television. Baseball should go back to that. Start the evening playoff games at 7:40pm on TV as opposed to 8:30 or 8:45. The game should be over inside of 3 hours. Period.
Shorten the games. The average baseball game seems to last to infinity and beyond. It’s a huge problem. Baseball’s hierarchy has allowed this to fester for far too long. Require pitchers to deliver the ball to the plate without needless delays. Install a countdown clock behind home plate if necessary. Eliminate the stall tactics batters consider their birthright at the plate (endless glove adjustments, jock realignment, stepping out of the batter’s box at will, etc.). Give the pitching coach/catcher/manager one at-mound conference with the pitcher. A second at-mound conference automatically brings about a pitching change. And the pitcher coming into the game does so ready to pitch. His warmup should be completed before he enters the game. Baseball’s goal should be to have the average game completed in 2 hours and 25 minutes.
Become technological. Baseball’s purists will cry foul, but it’s time for the game to embrace technology. Sensors could easily determine if a runner is safe at a base, or if a hard-hit ball is a home run or a foul ball. A well-trained review official equipped with HD monitors and video from multiple angles should be able to determine within 2 minutes if a fan interfered with a ball still in the field of play, or if a catch was made or not.
Use common sense. You’ve never seen NFL head coaches suited up in uniforms with pads and helmet on the sidelines. MLB, stop making managers dress like players. Just give them polo shirts and khakis/jeans.
Finally, baseball should overhaul its Hall of Fame balloting process, stop expansion, install a salary cap for teams, and exhaustively market itself to youths domestically and abroad.
I say baseball needs a change-up. What say you?
Staff Writer; Arthur L. Jones, III
This talented brother is a local Minister, weekly featured Democratic Op-Ed columnist, non-profit advisor, and sees the Braves winning it all this fall. Rev. Jones welcomes your comments! Please email him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.