New Rules for Baseball

OK, so here's the thing; major league baseball needs change. No! No! Wait! Don't go, come back! I promise to make this worth your while. I know that many think of baseball as a good nap wasted, but not me. I'm an enthusiast and need no variations on play. But let's face it, in what other major sport could one leave their seat during a 1-2 count, go to the bathroom, buy 4 hot dogs, a bag of salted dry roasted peanuts, pick up souvenirs and return to their rented vantage point to find the same batter is still there with a 3-2 count. It is not a bad idea to bring some work, a book and certainly one's iPod to the stadium to help pass the time. No sport should need help to pass the time! Well, maybe we can rectify the situation.

What baseball lacks is a.400 hitter. They used to be fairly common and necessary to win the batting title. The reason Ted Williams was the last one is obvious to any student of the game. Look at the gloves used in 1919 (I know that was well before Ted) and the jai lai baskets used today. The first baseman can scratch his ankles with his glove without bending over. Let's go back to a purer sterner form of baseball and limit gloves to actual gloves. No webbings! That would reduce equipment costs. The glove ends at the fingertips, but a player can have all the padding they want. But don't go overboard or it could become like trying to catch a ball with a pillow. Just watch the batting averages and on base percentages soar. Can you say "Hello, Ted Williams"? And if you're apt to say that it is unfair to the fielders, just remember that there were no gloves at all originally.

The center of action of any game is the battery and the batter. The battery is the pitcher-catcher combination. I just wanted to impress you that I know that. Today, the advantage still rests with the pitcher. He doesn't have to throw a ball that is already moving (how would that work?) but the batter has to hit one. The hurler establishes his control of the plate by throwing inside on any batter with the nerve (or base BALLS) to stand too close to home. Sometimes, a "message" is sent by throwing at the head or even deliberately hitting the batter. OK, tit for tat! (Huh, huh; I wrote "tit"). If the pitcher hit's a batter, the batter gets to take one stride from the batters box and chuck his bat at the master of the mound. Let's remember when Mike Piazza's bat shattered and Roger Clemens picked it up and threw it back as the Met catcher ran down the first base line. Piazza would have been justified in picking up the discarded instrument and place it in the pitcher's personal cubby hole. Perhaps "roid" rage could add to the overall action.

And why does the pitcher get to serve up the ball from Mt. Olympus? Is he suppose to be Zeus throwing lightning bolts? Drop the rubber (Huh, huh; I wrote rubber) to the same elevation as the batter. There is a reason why Yankee defenders on Little Round Top had the advantage at Gettysburg. Have you ever had to attack uphill? Colonel Chamberlain's swinging picket fence gate swung downhill sweeping away the Rebel attack. Such is the curveball, aided by the tenth defender in the field; gravity. Chamberlain didn't even have or need ammunition.

What is the catcher doing during all this? Keeping track of the scouting reports on the particular batter at the plate, runners on base, the count, assessing the current skill and fatigue level of his pitcher, the number of outs, what pitch has the highest potential for success, trying to convince the pitcher to accept his assessment (sometimes he even needs to go to the mound to advise), the positions of the 7 other fielders are reassessed with each pitch, trying to catch a 98 mph fastball without getting 43 ounces of hickory in the back of the head or across his catcher's mitt. He needs more to do! Let's make the position even more interactive. The catcher may attempt to grab the bat in the middle of the swing. However, if the pitch gets past him, the runner has the option of staying safe in the batter's box or running for 1st base. If the bat should catch him in the head, well that just shows how bad he wants to win. I realize the potential for injury is great but its about time the position had some responsibilities. No more "takin it easy" for these gold bricks. It may be necessary to expand the rosters by 10 additional players because one can foresee the need for additional catchers.

What is more perfect than the 90 feet from home to 1st base? I'll tell you. Place the first bag 30 feet from home and put it on a track. The batter hits the ball and the moment he leaves the batter's box, the base races down the track for 60 feet at say... 20 miles an hour and then stops. Who wouldn't love to see some of those lazy overpaid superstars finally try and beat out a ground ball. Like they say at the dog races, "There goes Rusty!"At least a 12 year old gives his all. You want hearts and dreams? Go to your local recreation centers.

So, you've managed to survive the hostile environment at the plate. Don't relax just because you're on base. I have some notions about this part of the game as well. If an outfielder catches the ball on the fly, he has the option of waiting for the runner to return to base. Once the runner has returned, he may take a step and a half and throw the ball at the runner on base. If he hits him anywhere but on the head, the runner is out. The runner's defense is to either take off (remember, someone is backing up the throw) or use his head to block the throw. Makes that batting helmet much more functional, don't you think?

What about running the bases? Why should a base grant safety. Let's spice it up a little. We have a runner at 1st and a heavy hitter comes up. The batter hits the ball into the left-center gap. The runner makes 2nd base easily but opts to go for third. Infielders should be allowed to distract the runner by throwing their gloves at him and I mean the infielders he's already passed as well can chase him. Just picture the pitcher, 1st and 2nd baseman running after him, leather flying through the air. The fleet footed runner has to decide whether to raise his arms to protect his face or cover his cup for additional protection. How is he suppose to assess how well the ball is being played? And a shortstop's mitt in the gut should be amusing to the fans. However, this rule would only be allowed if the team in the field is losing. That way, Pirate and Indian fans would enjoy this advantage disproportionately over teams like the Cardinals and Yankees. You have to give the smaller markets some hope.

And what of the fans? They need to interface with the game. In the event of a deep flyball, allow the fans in the stands to (at their own discretion) toss souvenir balls into the air above the player camping under the oncoming sphere. He must not only protect himself but not lose the real ball. Talk about an opportunity to demonstrate concentration.

Let's not leave out the infield and the fans who paid for better seats. A pop fly goes foul and the 3rd baseman moves to the stands in an attempt to catch the ball. Here is where selling beads in the souvenir shop pays off. A young man (thinking quickly) offers his date a string of beads on "Mardi Gras" Day at the ballpark and she accepts in the traditional fashion. Now we'll see either heroic concentration or tragic distraction. Either way, we all win.

Lastly, a little league rule that should never have been removed from the game, the 10 run rule. It should be applied, even at major league level. Seven innings of merciless slaughter is satisfying. After that, it borders on immoral voyeurism.

Well, these changes should make a good start. One important caveat on the topic. Don't apply these rules to minor league or NCAA college ball. I'm thinking the demand for rookies is going to increase dramatically and these replacements will be in high demand. It should shorten careers and lower salaries. How much do you want to bet that it won't result in lower ticket prices? Buck up, boys of summer. More of you are going to make the big show, but fewer will survive it.

John A. Colbert

0 komentar:

Posting Komentar