Once Radical Changes For Baseball Do Not Seem So Far-Fetched Now
Sports have been on hiatus for months, and they may be forced by the COVID-19 to take another extended timeout. With that likelihood in mind, the sports department of The New York Times suggested each game take the opportunity to make necessary adjustments to make it more appealing.
For the NBA the panel of reporters advocates for a 4-point shot, a change that would be readily favorable to Stephen Curry and other sharpshooters who often connect from beyond thirty feet. The NFL should eliminate kick offs, according to the July 27 article, and the NHL needs to reduce the size of goalie pads.
Even though adjustments are offered for tennis, golf, and soccer as well, the most intriguing ideas involve Major League Baseball. It starts with speeding up the game, which has been a goal for the sport over the last decade.
More radical suggestions include limiting the game day rosters, a move that would likely serve to speed up the game. Since there are only nine players to a side, reduce the game day roster from 26 to 18.
"Then we'll see how many pitching changes are really necessary," the article states.
Divisions should be realigned based strictly on geography, even beyond the way MLB officials have done for the abbreviated 2020 season. An All-California division would comprise the Padres, Angels, Dodgers, Athletics and Giants, naturally creating new while at the same time intensifying traditional rivalries.
The Mets, Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox and Jays make for a sensible Northeast alignment, similar to a configuration that could be based around Midwest bloc with the Cubs, White Sox, Cardinals, Brewers and Royals. Other leagues might mix Grand Canyon areas with Texas cities, and a Southern format of Florida teams with the Braves, Nats, and Orioles.
Readers of the Times were given space for ideas as well, including one that advocated moving all fences back. Another more radical change suggested that baseball get rid of the specialists and have all-around players on the field who, just as in volleyball, would rotate positions every inning.
While nine players and nine innings lends itself to such a rotation, that idea might be reserved to provide novelty to an exhibition like the All-Star game. Fans, and players themselves, might get a kick out of getting an opportunity to compete at a different position during the Midsummer Classic.
There is no shortage of ideas to help instill some novelty into a dying sport, which gas pandered far too long to stubborn traditionalists. Since there is now a universal designated hitter, it could be time to experiment with the idea of a designated runner. Requiring heavier sluggers to slog the bases when they reach without a home run takes away from the game and, even worse, greatly increases their risks of injury.
A thought that has been generated intermittently over the past few seasons regards re-entry to a game, an idea that would definitely keep fans and players interested for the entire duration. Each manager before the game would get to designate one guy, whether he be a pitcher or hitter or a two-way player, to re-enter. To make it even more strategic, the manager would need only to inform the umpires but not the opponent.
These ideas should not be dismissed as radical, especially considering the current baseball season. After all, as recently as 2019 the idea of a sixty game season seemed preposterous, but here we are.