Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Well, it’s that time of the year again. “Boring sports time.”
Just to be clear, there are two reasons why I’m not a fan of baseball. For one thing, with rare exceptions, my hometown team sucks. Year in and year out, they have struggled, and often failed to achieve even a barely winning season. The other reason is that I find baseball tedious. Even the highlights on the evening news fail to excite.
It is a sport dominated by a few big budget teams who are, for the most part, perennial champions, but I’m about to change all that… as if anyone pays attention to anything I say.
What I propose – and I’m serious about this – is just one teeny, tiny change in the rules. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Do you have fresh underwear standing by??
It’s simple. If it was up to me, I would put the pitcher on the side of the team that’s up to bat.
In one fell swoop, I have changed the polarity of the sport. No longer will the pitcher be trying to prevent the batter from hitting. Now, it’s the other way around.
Give each batter a maximum of, let’s say, four pitches to hit the ball in fair territory, or he’s out. (I was thinking three to five, and spit the difference.)
Who will be the best pitchers? The ones who know their batters and who can throw the perfect pitch that helps that batter get precisely the hit he needs to get on base or drive in a run.
Think it’s easy? Think all the pitcher has to do is lob one in there to produce homerun after homerun? On a major league diamond, the distance from the rubber on the mound and home plate is 60.5’. That’s a huge distance. Slow pitches, “lobs” aren’t going to make it with any degree of accuracy. Some significant speed on the ball is going to be essential to encourage a precision and/or long distance hit. Keep trying for the homerun? The pitcher has only four chances, too few to waste.
As for the batters, shear power – natural or artificially enhanced – will be less important. Precision hitting, more so. Communication, chemistry with the pitcher now replaces anticipation.
What difference will it make? Well, my version of the game will be much faster, almost certainly higher scoring, with far more hitting and fielding. Who knows, stadium and TV fans might actually have to pay attention for fear of missing the action.
And watch what happens to attendance if I’m right, and my change in the rules makes even traditional losers more competitive, and more exciting to watch.