Ten Ways To Make X Better: Baseball Comment Count

Brian 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 12:56 PM ^

Anymore than you can fix any sport who's popularity has waned over time.  One of my favorite trivia question is the following.  "Name the top three American sports as measured by attendance, revenue and television/radio popularity in 1950."

1. Baseball

2. Boxing

3. Horse Racing

Times changes and what people find interesting to watch/follow change too.  Nobody today would think of putting boxing or horse racing into a top 3 list but in 1950 football, basketball, NASCAR and UFC (a boxing derivitive I guess) had yet to gain any real popularity.  

What's scary if you love baseball is that the average age of the fan is old and getting older.  People describing themselves as hardcore fans of baseball are on average 53 vs 47 for football and only 37 for basketball.


Baseball is baseball and if you like it - great.  As others have said - it has certainly stood the test of time.   But its popularity is definitely on the decline relative to other major sports and IMO will continue to do so through the coming years as it's core fan base continues to age.


August 2nd, 2016 at 2:06 PM ^

I dont' think you can go that far.  Trends aren't trends forever. I'd bet good money that baseball's interest among under-30s has leveled off.  I see a ton of anecotdal evidence that suggests baseball has actually bounced back a bit in my area (Ann Arbor) and you could probably point to the Tigers' success in the mid-late 2000s for that.

From the NFHS website, participation in high school baseball over the last 7 years:

2008-09 473,184
2009-10 472,644
2010-11 471,025
2011-12 474,219
2012-13 474,791
2013-14 482,629
2014-15 486,567


Also, for what it's worth, the earliest year the NFHS has data is 1969-70. Baseball had 360k participants then.  Football had just under 900k.  By 2014-15, football had added about 200k, getting up to 1.12M participants. Over that time period, baseball has added about 120k participants. Smaller absolute amount, but a significantly bigger percent increase.  

Talks of baseball's demise are vastly overrated.

Blue Durham

August 2nd, 2016 at 1:08 PM ^

but I do think there are a few:

  1. Automate the strike zone.  There is too much inconsistancy from umpire to umpire, and within the game itself.  This probably could have been done years ago, the technology is definitely available.
  2. Any batter HBP that is within a ball of the plate is called out.  Since the strike zone would be automated, then it should be easy to detect if a portion of the ball passed(or would have passed) over the plate.
  3. Change the structure of the playoffs - each of the division winners and 1 (and only 1) wild card.  All series are best of 7 games.
  4. Scheduling - in early April it makes little sense to have Detroit hosting Tampa Bay, Philadelphia hosting Miami, or Colorado hosting the LA Dodgers.  Take likely weather into account this time of year would help to cut down on rescheduling and crowded September schedules.
  5. Have to cut down on the time between pitches.  Put a clock on the pitcher (12 seconds after receiving the ball, and batter has to be ready regardless) and first violation of the game, a warning, after that an automatic ball.  With men on base, the ball has to leave the mound with the time period.
  6. Lower the pitcher's mound a little more to have a little more offense.


August 2nd, 2016 at 1:14 PM ^

3. Rather than doing it by league, the manager of the home team decides whether or not the designated hitter rule will be used in that game.  He must announce it to the visiting manager 1 hour before the start of the game.

2. If a team changes pitchers in the middle of an inning, the batting team gets to put 1 runner on any unoccupied base.  If there are no unoccupied bases, the batting team gets a run.

1. Softball substitution rule:  any starter who is removed from the game may be re-inserted once.


August 2nd, 2016 at 1:28 PM ^

I grew up playing baseball and love watching the game, even when my team is rebuilding. When people say there isn't any "action" in baseball, I assume they're talking about scoring. Low scoring games are usually the result of great pitching, which is an absolute treat to watch. We are in an era with a ton of great pitching (rotation and relief) and that's the biggest reason why there are fewer runs being scored. Perhaps appreciating great pitching requires more than a casual understanding of the game, which may be baseball's biggest issue; it requires nuance and an attention span that many other sports do not. That and it's largely free of the soap opera stuff that ESPN loves to talk about. (OMG JOHNNY FOOTBALL)

The sport is also a lot more athletic than is used to be, which I believe has resulted in much better defense (though I have no numbers to back this up) across the board. Young, athletic teams with great pitching like the Marlins are really fun to watch.

Unfortunately baseball is becoming more like soccer, where families need to spend a lot of money to ensure their kids are able to play in summer leagues, travel squads, etc., so a lot of would-be excellent baseball players end up playing other sports. Fortunately Latin America and Japan exist. 


August 2nd, 2016 at 2:21 PM ^

Lack of action is not referring to a slight decrease in score.

It's a very discrete game, not much to watch even when the action is happening.  You dont run to first differently depending on what's happening on he field.  You hit, they field, you're out or not, just wait and see if the ball is at the base when you get there.  And that's the action part.

When the action is not happening, even if there is strategizing that's going on during the downtime, the queues are subtle to non-existent for me.  I find a sport is more interesting if, during the downtime, information is revealed that affects the strategizing and then the action.  In baseball, a lot of stuff happens between pitches, but I don't see that any of it tells me anything about the actual pitch.

I'm not saying there is no strategy involved, just that too much of it is invisible to viewers.


August 2nd, 2016 at 3:12 PM ^

You dont run to first differently depending on what's happening on he field.

Sure you do.  You run through the bag if it's in the infield.  You take a turn of varying degrees of aggressiveness for balls hit to the outfield, with the variance based on location of the hit, positioning of the outfielders, and arm strength of the outfielders.

You hit, they field, you're out or not, just wait and see if the ball is at the base when you get there.  And that's the action part.

That ignores the runners who are already on base who may be trying to take an extra base, it ignores the fielders' abilities to throw and apply a tag, and it ignores some players who have incredible sliding abilities (look at Javier Baez's uncanny ability to avoid tags).

When the action is not happening, even if there is strategizing that's going on during the downtime, the queues are subtle to non-existent for me.

That doesn't mean they're not there.

I find a sport is more interesting if, during the downtime, information is revealed that affects the strategizing and then the action.  In baseball, a lot of stuff happens between pitches, but I don't see that any of it tells me anything about the actual pitch.

If you're at a game, you can pick up a lot based on the positioning of the fielders, which can vary from pitch-to-pitch.  You can also see where the catcher is setting up.  That latter is even more clear on TV, plus if you have good announcers, they'll cue you into much of the strategy and what pitch options are available and likely.

I'm not saying there is no strategy involved, just that too much of it is invisible to viewers.

It's not invisible if you know what to look for.


August 2nd, 2016 at 3:36 PM ^

Is there an example of someone breaking down setup and action of your average baseball play like we see here or PFF for football plays?  Not talking about finding a baseball play where something unusually interesting happened, just a random play.


Maybe one for your average strike and hit, what should I have noticed before the ball was thrown?  what should I have been looking for after the ball was thrown?  Who was adjusting how to seeing what?  Who could have done better at what?


August 3rd, 2016 at 12:51 AM ^

This is an interesting post and I'm not sure there's a satisfying answer. I'm not sure something like what you're asking for exists, nor do I think there's much of a demand from non-casual baseball fans. I'll do some research.



August 2nd, 2016 at 3:57 PM ^

For me, my biggest issue while playing was the lack of action, and by action, I mean getting a chance to do something.  I played centerfield, so I rarely got a chance to run, I may have had 4 or 5 opportunities a game to actually make a play.  When you only get 3 or 4 chances to hit, you do a lot of sitting and waiting for your chance to do something.  I played soccer basketball and football, and in soccer and basketball you are always involved and always in action.  Lot's of physical exersion in those sports.  I would always have energy for my AAU basketball games after my baseball games, because I did very little during the baseball game.  Unfortunately watching it on tv is not much better than playing.  Too much wasted time in baseball.


August 2nd, 2016 at 1:43 PM ^

In no particular order:
  1. Automate ball-strike calls, but severly limit instant replay or eliminate it entirely in other situations. It takes too long, it doesn't eliminate that much controversy (honestly), and it has introduced a whole new class of plays where guys are safe or out on weird technicalities that don't feel like the fit the spirit of instant replay (like when a guy beats the throw by a mile and he's out because his toe comes of the bag for a millisecond while he executes a pop-up slide; come on). I was a proponent of instant replay. After seeing it in action, I dont' think it's adding much.
  2. Limit the number of pitching changes per inning. The degree of bullpen specialization has gotten way out of control. It's totally boring in ever facet. And if it leads to more offense late in baseball games, good. That's exciting shit. Something like requiring a pitcher to face a certain number of batters before being replaced mid-inning should do the trick, but I'm open to suggestions.
  3. Eliminate interleague play and balance the schedule. Part of baseball's beauty is that the season is so long that the teams on top at the end deserve to be there. Unbalancing the schedule harms this. I also loved the separation of the leagues. The way we're doing interleague now is better than than setting aside whole blocks of the season where very team is playing non-rivals, but I'd still like to see separation, which would probably have to happen to balance the schedule.
  4. Expand to 32 teams (Portland? Brooklyn? Montreal!?). Divide the league into four eight team divisions: AL East, AL West, NL East, NL West. Only the winners of each division make the playoffs. Expand the ALCS, NLCS, and WS to nine game series. There's nothing sacred about best of seven (the WS was nine games for a while). Roughly the same amount of postseason baseball, regular season matters more, less randomness in the postseason, rewards deeper teams, higher quality teams in the important series. I would love this so much.
  5. Stop allowing batters and pitchers to take so much time between every damn pitch. Go watch a baseball game from the 60s. It absolutely files! Much better pace.
  6. Stop doing revenue sharing based on factors under a team's control, like payroll. Teams should not be allowed to game the system. Develop a model where each team has an amount of revenue they are expected to generate for the league based on their natural geographic advantages and base revenue sharing on that. Get the incentives right.
  7. Look, "the shift" sucks, ok? Maybe we let teams go on doing this for a while to see if hitter will adapt, but I frigging hate these odd defensive alignments. There's nothing worse than seeing a hitter's solid line drive to the outfield turn into a put out at first base because the second baseman is playing thirty yards in the outfield. Yes, it's legal and smart, but it feels like gaming the system to me, not playing baseball. See if hitters can make it go away, and if they can't pass rules to get rid of it.
  8. Maybe drop the mound some more? I know it's not sustainable to keep dropping it, but there's too many strikeouts in the game right now. This is because hitters have figured out that striking out is usually no worse than any other out (yeah, you can't advance a runner, but you also can't hit into a double play; cancels out). As a result, hitters are just loading up and swinging as hard as they can all the time, and pitchers are taking advantage. The game is better when the ball is in play. This also keeps pitch counts down, which speeds the game up (though too much increase in offense might negate that).


August 2nd, 2016 at 3:53 PM ^

but radically disagree with #7. Finally, finally managers are realizing that you don't have to put your fielders where they always were. I really like shifts, and indeed, believe that MUCH more of it should happen. You even say "It's legal and smart", and man, playing smart inside the rules is what sports is all about!



August 2nd, 2016 at 5:12 PM ^

Also disagree with number seven. Hitters need to fall back in love with the inside out swing that drives the ball the other way. There are too many dead pull hitters in today's game - and lefties are the big offenders - who also strike out a lot because of their unsound swing. Drop a bunt down the third base line or slap a grounder to the left side of the infield if there's only one fielder over there. Chances are it'll get through. If the MLB wants to get rid of the shift being so prominent, it starts with hitting.


August 2nd, 2016 at 1:51 PM ^

After the 11th inning the game goes to a HR Derby. Each team gets to put up 2 batters and have any coach or player on their team toss the ball to them, each batter gets 3 outs (an out is any swing that is not a HR). Also put a 2 minute cap per batter. That way no batter can take a long break in between pitches. Saves pitchers, makes power hitters more important, and makes me want to stay tuned the entire game.


August 2nd, 2016 at 2:02 PM ^

there is a reason why there's a warmup after coming out of the bullpen. Bullpen is to get the arm loose and the warmup pitches coming out of the pen is just get used to pitching from that particular mound.

I can attest that pitching from the bullpen is completely different than pitching from the real mound. You're asking for a reliever to bomb out every single time they get to the mound.


August 2nd, 2016 at 2:43 PM ^

10.  As has been suggested, a hard (and enforced)  limit on time between pitches. A real 10 seconds would do it. I kinda hate doing the ball/strike penalty, but I can't think of anything better.

9. One visit to the mound per game for the manager/pitching coach.

8. One visit to the mound per game for the catcher.

7. As others have suggested, even up the DH. Either use it or don't.

6. 2 throws to first by the pitcher for any runner at first. Make 'em count.

5. All balls and strikes called by computer. No appeal of ball/strike calls. An umpire in the booth watches for blindingly obvious errors, and may correct 2 a game. Again, no appeal of corrections.

4. (As Brian suggested)  Absolutely no warmup pitches for any reliever brought in mid-inning, exception - Obvious injuries like hit by a batted ball.

3.  One pinch runner per game, barring obvious (umpire discretion) injury.

2.  Manager gets one argument per game. If the umpire instructs him to return to the dugout and he doesn't, automatic ejection.

1.  A total of 3 pitchers per nine-inning game. Once you're over 9 innings, 1 additional pitcher per 2 innings played (beginning of 10th inning, max of 4, beginning of 12th, max of 5, etc).  If you get to 3 and the 3rd pitcher is obviously injured, one more is allowed. The rest of these are pretty niggly, but this one is #1 because it's potentially a huge impact. IMO, it helps the game tremendously, as it limits the impact of relief specialists (LOOGY).

Rufus X

August 2nd, 2016 at 2:50 PM ^

Why bother? Especially since the soccer dorks got their reason to bitch about the rest of the world not understanding the "beautiful game" a couple months ago...  Oh well, at least it isn't another draftageddon post.


August 2nd, 2016 at 3:11 PM ^

I cannot read all of these comments.

1.  Between half innings home umpire receives an update on quality (specific) of calls for that half inning.  Might help umpire correct consistent mistakes immediately.

2.  Batter hit by pitch can be replaced at no cost for one inning to deal with any black and blue boo-boo.


August 2nd, 2016 at 3:54 PM ^

I'm glad u stopped at 5! Pitchers have to warmup when they come in. 1) not every mound is the same. 2) pitchers need to get used to their catcher and likewise. 3) pitches need to be thrown between innings to help pitcher get lose again after sitting for a half an inning.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


August 2nd, 2016 at 4:33 PM ^

Televise soccer like you do golf - switch between a bunch of games simultaneously, bringing up the feed right before a pitch. If you miss a play, show a quick replay.

Right now watching baseball is like watching a golf tournament that follows each player as he walks from the tee box to his second shot. Each action is meaningful, but there's a lot of downtime between each action.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


August 2nd, 2016 at 4:55 PM ^

I have basewars working using an emulator and 360 controller.  So much fun.  Only game I have pinned on my taskbar at home.  Only baseball game I've ever owned or enjoyed playing.




August 2nd, 2016 at 5:16 PM ^

All sports are inherently boring, they're only entertaining when you closely follow teams, players, and the stories.


I don't follow baseball so I don't like baseball, but its not any more inherently dull than football is.  Both have about 15 minutes of actual action spread out over 3 hours.  I follow michigan football so I find those 3 hours more interesting than anything else I could possibly watch, I don't follow baseball in any way so I'd be hard pressed to find anything more boring than watching an entire game.


That said, baseball is perfectly suited for radio as with it's slow pace and easily described action.  Compare that to basketball or football where you can't tell jack shit about what's going on or picture it in your head based on what the radio announcer is frenetically saying.  I think this is a big reason why baseball became so popular when radio was your only or primary way of consuming it compared to how football dominates the ratings in the age where you can watch every game of every sport.


August 2nd, 2016 at 8:53 PM ^

They need to paint "NO PEPPER GAMES" on the walls of all stadiums.  It is criminal that Comerica Park doesn't say this.

I'm surprised how many people seem to want some artificial end to extra-inning games that go more than 10-11 innings.  Those games are the best.  The drama in the extra innings, when one run can win it and both teams are running out of pitchers, is awesome.



August 2nd, 2016 at 7:02 PM ^

Reduce the pitches per at bat to strike out or walk. 3 balls is a walk, 2 strikes is an out.

Remove the DH. It's the Mudville, not the Mudville 9 and a guy who isn't good enough to play defense. More outs will quicken the game.

Get radar based strike and ball calls rather than a human. It'll be faster and more likely more accurate.

Increase the bases to 100 feet. More outs will happen to speed up the game. Increases the value of line drives and home runs compared to ground balls.

Require a base runner on third base to attempt to steal at least once per at bat.

Allow the hidden ball trick.

Triple play on defense buys you an extra out in the next half inning while batting.

If a pinch hitting mascot hits a home run, the game is over and that team wins.


August 3rd, 2016 at 10:26 AM ^

This is probably the worst blog entry I've ever seen on this site. Sorry, love MGoBlog, but this was terrible. It'd be like me commenting on Soccer and saying they need to mix in some UFC to keep me awake. To each their own, but seriously this was a waste of 10 minutes I'll never get back.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


August 4th, 2016 at 8:27 AM ^

10. Automate the strike zone

9. (Majors) Shorten the months of the season, but add more double-headers. Play first month of season in South America, Asia, and Africa. Finish World Series by the first week in October.

8. Trips to the mound cost 1-ball on the current or next batter.

7. Rather than eliminating instant replays, go immediately to 1 minute of TV commercials which are taken out of the 1 minute of commercials in the next half-inning. Any replays are shown after the break.

6. In extra innings, alternate the team that bats first and last. (Especially in playoffs- I hate watching games my teams play on the road in extra-innings. If they don't score, all they can do is lose).

5. (Majors) Wild-card series: best of 3 at park of team with better record.

4.  a) Bringing in a relief pitcher means the team batting gets one extra out in the inning.
     b) Bringing in relief pitcher means losing your DH for the rest of the game.

3. (College) play all summer in the northern climates.

2. College World Series concluding Labor Day weekend.

1 Three balls for a walk instead of four.