Ten Ways To Make X Better: Baseball

Submitted by Brian on August 2nd, 2016 at 11:43 AM

Previously: hockey, soccer, basketball, football.


10. No warmup pitches for relievers.

What did you just spend 15 minutes doing in the bullpen? Why are you wasting our time like this? I have things to look at that aren't you! Ever heard of a book, buddy? Yeah, probably not.

9. Every time a pitcher throws to first he has to put on another hat.

If the hats fall off before the end of the inning that counts as one ball per hat that falls off.

8. Balks are cool.

Balk away.

7. I don't have any other ideas.

Baseball! It's good if you want to drink beer outside with something else going on vaguely in your perception. The exact structure of the game is beside the point.

6. Wait, wait, now I do.

Remember Basewars? Yeah, do that.

I prefer robots but if we can get this on the road with people I'm down. You want me out? Put me out. I do not recognize the authority of this "ball" you have tagged me with.

5. This is a bad post.

You can think that. It's okay.



August 2nd, 2016 at 12:37 PM ^

Promotion-relegation makes the end of season stakes at the bottom of the league exponentially more exciting than they are now. It's really fascinating to see teams try to fight off relegation. And it gives actual stakes to the lower divisions.

It's obviously not going to happen in any US sport because of the entrenched power of team owners organized into a cartel. But this is also a post that features a proposal to have pitchers wear additional hats, so "not practical" seems a minor point.

And almost every sport has promotion-relegation of players in the way you describe, that's not unique to baseball in any way. In basketball, it's international movement. In soccer, its the transfer system (which has a global calendar).


August 2nd, 2016 at 1:19 PM ^

AAA baseball has their own championship series.  So does AA and so on.  The players in those leagues are trying to reach the MLB so they have plenty at stake.  Perhaps the teams don't have as much at stake as compared to the individual players but there is still plenty at stake currently in minor league baseball. 


Baseball's farm system is unique.  You can move through four levels of baseball all within a single organization.  All the other player movements you described required intersquad transfers of players. 


Promotion relegation is interesting but it isn't the cure-all that some soccer-philes make it out to be. 


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:30 PM ^

Promotion-relegation really doesn't work for any american sports (though I think it's a really cool idea)

All pro teams generally are affiliated with a minor league team or have players in the minors. 

College teams are affilited with conferences and thus you can't relegate Purdue to the MAC because all their other sports are in the Big Ten


August 2nd, 2016 at 6:32 PM ^

I think baseball does a better job than every other professional league when it comes to playoffs.

The current format keeps lots of teams (and fanbases) engaged without completely watering down the playoffs.  This year hasn't been especially competitive in MLB, yet there are still 16 teams in the hunt for a playoff spot.

All the other US professional sports leagues have so many playoff teams there are horrible, uncompetitive first-round matchups, and crappy teams have little incentive to become better. Honestly, does anyone really think the first round of NBA playoffs is exciting?

The single game play-in for WC teams is obviously a crapshoot, but it provides major incentive to win your division, and penalizes a team for sneaking in.  It's also pretty damned intense.

I also like the home field advantage determined by the All-star game.  Sure, it's a bit unfair and artificial, but it makes the game mean something to the players and fans.



August 3rd, 2016 at 12:53 AM ^

The single game play-in for WC teams is obviously a crapshoot, but it provides major incentive to win your division, and penalizes a team for sneaking in.  It's also pretty damned intense.

I love it, especially the disadvantage it puts the WC winner at in the second round.  The WC team uses its best pitcher in the WC game to try to advance, so they're now using #2 against their opponent's #1.

I also like the home field advantage determined by the All-star game.  Sure, it's a bit unfair and artificial, but it makes the game mean something to the players and fans.

You've lost me here.  An exhibition game should never have an impact on the World Series.  The managers still have getting all (or almost all) players in as their primary goal, so you end up with the mandatory players from teams who won't sniff the playoffs playing in the crucial final innings of the game.  It's terrible.


August 3rd, 2016 at 1:55 AM ^

I can understand your distaste for using an exhibition game to determine home field, but for me it serves two practical purposes:

1. While not totally fair, at least it's something determined in a competitive environment. Maybe a better alternative would be to award the team with the better record home field, but just switching back and forth year to year is useless.

2. Makes the game more competitive and entertaining. The other all-star games are a complete joke. At least the players seem to care about the MLB game. I have to believe the consequence of home-field advantage means something to players, especially those whose teams are in contention (substantial majority at that point in the season).

Furthermore, I think smart managers will quit caring about squeezing in all the players and really try to win the game, especially if the AL keeps dominating.

The ASG was really great before interleague play - that watered it down quite a bit.


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:10 PM ^

1.)  Narrow the infield lines

2.)Eliminate 1st and 3rd base.  Move 2nd base out about 300 feet from home plate.

3.) Instead of hitting the ball, the batter has to catch what the pitcher throws and take it to 2nd base in 4 tries

4.)  The pitcher and infield can try to stop him

5.) To avoid injury, use a softer ball

6.) When the runner doesn't score, he tosses the ball back to the pitcher and the process reverses, except the batter and his team try and stop the pitcher


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:11 PM ^

I think there should be a league in Vegas where the players are encouraged to take HGH and steroids under a doctors care. Pitchers all throw over 100 and most players can hit 475 feet home runs.


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:13 PM ^

I love baseball, but it seems like the game gets slower and slower every year. MLS has replaced MLB for me in the summer because there's more action in soccer. 


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:19 PM ^

I get the feeling that Brian isn't a big Baseball fan.

I'm not the hugest fan, but I like it and on some summers I will buy the MLB.tv package and watch a pretty big portion of the Tigers games. It's not a perfect game, but it is enjoyable and it has its moments.

Which is not to say that there's nothing to fix, but I'm not up in arms about much. I can say it would be helpful to improve the way balls and strikes are called, because it obviously has a huge influence on the game and some of the calls are just plain incorrect. But it's hard to find a good solution, so whatever.


Late Bluemer

August 2nd, 2016 at 12:29 PM ^

A few more ideas:

  • Automate ball / strike call – I am sure that technology exists to do away w/ that responsibility for home plate umpires
  • No WS games past Halloween -- Season back at 154 games would be good
  • Allow DH, but make manager have to also remove DH when he removes starting pitcher
  • Allow only 3 visits by manager to mound per inning regardless of how many pitching changes
  • Ban artificial turf – aka plastic grass (even though only 2 mlb stadiums have it now)
  • Ban Coors Field – sorry, it looks like baseball, but it really isn’t baseball
  • Ban / abolish the Yankees
  • Ban male patrons from drinking those ridiculous looking neon blue, pink and green drinks at Comerica (c’mon guys!  Show some self-respect)


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:29 PM ^

Hey man, I'm with you. I love going to baseball games. I really don't care about it and can still follow it with a minimum of concentration. It's like the one sport I can actually enjoy without getting angry.

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August 2nd, 2016 at 12:30 PM ^

A lot of the issues are tough to fix without seriously messing up the game.  For example, say you want to limit pick-offs to first base.  You can't put a number on it because once you reach that number, the base runner has free reign to take an enormous lead.  

This might be a little crazy, but I think it's doable.  A pitch clock.  Clock starts when the pitcher catches the ball and the pitcher must pitch between 5 and 13 seconds after the pitch.  That allows the batter enough time to look at signs, but forces them to get back in the box. It allows the pitcher to vary his pitch delivery enough.  I think it's enough time to look at the signs.  Still pretty extreme change, though.



August 2nd, 2016 at 12:45 PM ^

I couldn't agree more.  I tried to watch some of a Dodgers' game a few weeks ago when Kershaw was pitching.  I didn't time it, myself, but I think it had to be 45-60 seconds in between some of his deliveries (and I don't think there were baserunners).

Would the pitch clock actually be a "Make a play" clock?  i.e. could a pickoff attempt also be made 12 seconds into the clock without penalty?


August 2nd, 2016 at 2:46 PM ^

If you limit pickoff throws, you make it incumbent on the pitcher to use his throws wisely. Go to the stretch, use more fastballs, and make those pick-off throws count.

Also, like the other guy said, the clock is a good idea, but you have to reset it on a pickoff attempt.


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:32 PM ^

Every Monday, each team will be forced to play with a randomly selected fan from the stadium. They must play a minimum of six innings. Would love to see a five year old or Grandma Ruth out there trying to help their team.


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:34 PM ^

This is more about adjustment to the mound/rubber than getting loose.  It's less applicable in MLB because of the amazing upkeep by the grounds crews, but the slightest divot/bump/slope can really mess with a pitcher's stride, follow-through, release point, etc.  Sometimes you just need to get a feel for an opposing team's mound.  They're supposed to be uniform across the board, but that's hardly the case.  Liken it to the shoot around pre-game and after halftime in basketball.


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:37 PM ^

Offense gets two roaming linebackers on the field

20 game season. If there are 1/10th as many games, they matter 10/1 as much... which is still way less than the threshold for me to watch a game, so see suggestion #1


August 2nd, 2016 at 12:39 PM ^

1 no warmup pitches for relief pitchers. Have him ready in the bullpen or leave him there.

2 put a timer on the pitcher. 12 seconds to pitch or it's a ball. If the batter isn't ready it's a strike.

3 no more batting gloves. To much time spent readjusting between pitches.

4 batter may not leave box btwn pitches unless there is an equipment problem.

5 umpires stop tossing out balls because they hit the dirt around the plate.

6 no manager trips to the mound. Manager comes out so does the pitcher.

7 no more warnings for pitching inside. The inside belongs to both the pitcher and batter.

8 no more instant replay. The umps are right 99% of the time plus it will give us something to argue about.

9 either put the dh in both leagues or remove it. Two sets of rules is idiotic.

10 go back to 154 games. Maybe then we won't have November baseball.

That's my 10 ways to improve baseball.

Plus bring back twilight doubleheaders or doubleheaders in general. It will help shorten the calender season.


August 2nd, 2016 at 1:52 PM ^

Readjusting batting gloves?  That's not really a problem. Nomar Garciaparra is long gone. 

Umpires tossing out dirt balls?  Again, what's the problem there?  We're talking about a half a second?  What does this add up to over the course of a game? 15 seconds?  Not a problem.



August 2nd, 2016 at 1:31 PM ^

Actually no. 7 innings at 4 outs equals 56 outs to finish a game as opposed to the current 54. Another way, Statboy is to figure each inning is lengthened by 33%, times 7 equals 9.1 traditional innings. Doesn't seem like a way to make the go faster. Plus more scoring means longer innings

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August 2nd, 2016 at 1:37 PM ^

The Cubs' (brief) playoff run in 1984 was glorious.  It was before lights were installed in Wrigley, so the games in Chicago had to be played during the day.  I remember one my Jr. High teachers brought a radio into class so we could listen to the game.

M Go Cue

August 2nd, 2016 at 12:55 PM ^

Baseball has lasted almost 180 years and is still drawing millions of fans to their games every year. Baseball is more international and diverse than it has ever been.
Looking at pro sports 30 years out, I would take MLB over the NFL all day long.