Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Baseball Theory

I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least try to fix the one sport that makes less sense than a solar powered flashlight.

While I do this, baseball homers (double entendre!) will follow their usual course of action and point to meaningless facts and statistics like "Baseball is the second most popular sport in America!" or "Baseball is America's past time!" and turn an unabashed eye to the fact that baseball's time is, in reality, passing.

The sport is losing popularity, no doubt. That is an irrevocable fact you may not challenge me on (my blog, my rules). There are generations of middle aged and elderly men who cling to the glory days of past when cable television was terrible, the Internet was not yet invented and the only way to kill 4 hours of your day was to keep score of a major league game. Ahh, yes. The glorious days of yore. When 'milkman' was a job title, computers took up entire rooms, and racism was OK in certain company.

Then things changed. The Internet became our universal hang-out spot, cable television went from being "good" to "absolutely must-see, and if I don't I can watch in on the Internet, or as I like to call it, my universal hang out spot."

The NFL grew rapidly with the advancements in Fantasy Football technology, bringing the game closer to the average fan. HDTV made you feel like you were in the huddle and became a better viewing experience than attending games in person. The NBA is squeezing every ounce of usefulness out of the Internet by posting all their clips online, streaming games live online, and hosting the largest internet communities on Facebook and Twitter for a major American sport. The NHL is even facing a resurgence in popularity through its attempts to highlight young stars, smashing hits, and allowing the players to enforce each other instead of distinguishing a Flagrant 1 from a Flagrant 2.

Baseball changed too. They prohibited people from posting clips of games on YouTube, they stubbornly entrenched themselves in their prehistoric ways and fought against change at every turn.

Just like the old business man who prefers to do things with pen and paper will get pushed out of his position after refusing to learn what Microsoft Excel is, baseball, if nothing changes, will slowly die as less and less of the sport appeals to young fans.

The current generation of MLB lovers will pass on and leave behind...well, not much. What about 4 and a half hour games between two teams at the bottom of their divisions featuring pitchers just called up from the minors in the middle of a 162 game season appeals to 12 year olds?

So I thought about what we can do to make baseball more exciting. It's really the least I can do.

How about this: instead of teams having a pitching rotation featuring upwards of 5 players, make it like the QB position in football. You get a starting pitcher, a backup, and a third stringer. Limit the number of roster spots by position and reduce the number of games.

There was a pitcher starting for Tampa Bay (or something) who had lost 29 games in a row. Why does he still have a job? If he did that in the NFL he'd be called "The Redskins Starting QB". Meanwhile, the Phillies have four of the four best pitchers in the game stacking their rotation.

Would any NFL team want to have Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rogers all on the same team? What good would that do them except to prevent other teams from having those guys?

So here's what I propose. Limit the bullpen to three pitchers. Play two games per week, giving time to rest their shoulders, and in case of injury you start your backups.

I puke at the fact that I heard a month ago on SportsCenter an MLB team had put a player on the Disabled List due to "Dead Arm". ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

Isiah Thomas once finished an NBA Finals game on a broken ankle. A BROKEN ANKLE! Make the MLB players man up and get tough. God forbid the pitches become more hitable and the scores increase.

Tangent: I saw the new MLB commercial of players running home and crashing into the catcher, or outfielders chasing the same fly ball and colliding, then the words "Baseball, who said it wasn't a contact sport?" flashed on the screen. I honestly thought it was a joke. Wasn't this the sport, just a few weeks earlier, calling for the head of the player who injured catcher Buster Posey while trying to break up the throw on his way home? There has been one notable collision in Baseball in the last 10 years, and THIS is their new ad campaign. I hate this sport.

Three man rotation, two games per week, limit the roster spots by position and, what the heck, add a pitch clock in there as well. Shorten the game to 7 innings (wouldn't want those pitchers getting Dead Arm), and have pitchers throw complete, or mostly complete games. Get rid of the dead weight pitching staff in the league and spread the talent out.

That way, when the Nationals draft a guy like Stephen Strasburg, it'll feel like we drafted Sam Bradford or Peyton Manning, a pitcher for the future, a guy to base our franchise on, and a player who we can count on to dominate in every game...not one out of every five games. What's the use of one great pitcher if, at the most, he can win 20% of your games for you?

Put clips online, stream games online, build the brand via social marketing tools and fire the crap out of Bud Selig and hire Mark Cuban. Add a salary cap per team so the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies can't buy up everyone they want and leave teams like Kansas City, Houston, and San Diego picking up off the scrap heap.

Doesn't seem too difficult does it? But when you have a sport run by old farts so lodged in their old-school style of thought, thinking the sport will succeed on its tradition and this is just a down period, change never happens.

My final attempt to save baseball? Allow PEDs. Not the dangerous ones, just the ones that give a slight advantage. Might as well, right? The sport became a joke because of it. It was in the peak of its popularity when the big name players were using. All the records are tainted because of it. Just succumb to the pressure....come to the dark side.

Oh, and we HAVE to stop letting the managers wear baseball uniforms. C'mon, they look like pajamas. You can't defend that. It's gotta stop.

1 comment:

  1. while i do agree with you that something has to be done, and this could most certainly be an option, i'll take anything, but i hate hearing all of this garbage from everyone about baseball being a boring sport. its not the sports fault. the sport did nothing wrong. its the money hungry fools at the helm.