Semi-OT: What sports would you fix?

Submitted by canzior on April 17th, 2018 at 9:50 AM

I was reading an article on Yahoo Sports about MLB attendance problems and how it might not just be the horrible weather. Writer offers some solutions.  I'm not a big baseball fan, but I enjoy sports. I know many people feel that college athletes should be paid, but if you could enact 3 changes/rules to any sport, what would they be?

Not necessarily sport-specific, but I would love for ESPN to adopt something similar to the "crystal ball" rankings when it comes to their on air talent. I'll admit, I don't watch or read ESPN much anymore, but I'd love to see an SEC shill make a prediction, then see underneath his name and obscure accomplishments, a stat that he is only correct on 24% of his predictions.



Also, of interest to Detroit sports fans. I was born in Detroit, and raised in DC so my sports loyalties outside of the Wings and Wolverines are very casual. Great article on why sports should have more fair weather fans as a way to force competency by owners for those interested.



April 17th, 2018 at 9:57 AM ^

Make CFB refereeing an actual profession with the requisite compensation to ensure a great product.

Baseball and NBA need less games so that the regular season has more meaning.


April 17th, 2018 at 10:05 AM ^

What if in the MLB, every three game series counted as either a win or a loss. If you win two out of three, you win the series. If you don't, you get a loss. That way, there's only 54 wins/losses, and there's a lot more pressure on those third games of the series that teams often blow off since it's an afternoon game.


April 17th, 2018 at 10:18 AM ^

You know, as much as I love baseball, I would not mind there being fewer games in a season. Not so few as, say, baseketball and hockey, but a few less. 162 games, the more I think about it, is a grind and it is part of the reason that my viewing sinks in May and June because there aren't a lot of meaningful games even among good teams. 



April 17th, 2018 at 10:29 AM ^

If baseball went down to 5 games a week (a 2-game series on Tu-We and a 3-game series on Fr-Sa-Su), that would be 130 games a year.  Teams could go down to 4-man pitching rotations and get rid of the dregs of the bullpen too.  You see just as much of the good pitchers as always (30-33 starts each for 4 starters), and less of the bad ones.

It's still 52 series, just like today, so no changes to the amount of travel.  Just fewer games per series...and getting rid of Monday & Thursday baseball won't have too much of an effect on attendance--those are the lowest-attended days anyway.

Pepto Bismol

April 17th, 2018 at 10:33 AM ^

People keep attacking the NFL and pro football. They tried the World League and Arena ball, USFL, XFL1, XFL2, I know there was some other 4 team semi-pro league recently. Somebody's trying to kick off the Alliance league or some crap.

I can't understand why nobody goes after baseball. It's ripe for the picking. It's so antiquated with rules in place for absolutely no reason. Why do they play 162 games? "Well, because in 1894 that's about how many we played and we have to maintain the validity of stats, so it's 162. We're starting and finishing the season in the snow. Deal with it."

Start a rival pro baseball league. Poach minor leaguers. Turn the sport on it's ear.  Immediately implement pitch (shot) clocks, limit mound visits, cork the bats if you'd like, wind the ball tighter, I don't care.  Managers can dress casual. Most importantly, drop this stupid schedule down to like 50 games or something and make them matter. Games twice a week. You'll only need 2 starters. Your bullpen cut in half so that your pitching is more regular and reliable.  That would also limit the excessive situational pitching nonsense where you spend 10 minutes and 2 commercial breaks sandwiching a "lefty specialist" who comes in to throw 2 pitches and give up a base hit anyway.

Wanna bunt to break up a no-hitter? Or steal a base in the 9th up by 7 runs?  Go for it. This isn't MLB. Your unwritten rules don't apply.

And cap it off with Single Elimination playoffs because baseball is the absolute randomest of sports and a series proves next to nothing.


Mr Miggle

April 17th, 2018 at 10:51 AM ^

You have to go head to head with MLB, no using the off season like in football. It's not easy to find stadiums to play that hold more than a few thousand fans. Unlike the other sports, MLB already employs a ton of minor league players. 


April 17th, 2018 at 12:49 PM ^

The last successful baseball league (The American League) started out as an independent minor league (The Western League) for about 7 years before it declared that it was a major league.

This could work, if you took that approach.  Start a 10-team Independent Minor league with a 90-game, 18-week schedule that ends on Labor Day and starts around the first of May.  Sign minor league free agents and players who get "designated for assignment" at the end of spring training that first season.  Have a draft, pick high schoolers and offer signing bonuses and contracts.  Slowly collect castoff talent from the majors. 

The first winter of free agency, start signing some real free agents.  Sign a Japanese or Dominican or Venezuelan superstar on each team.  Set a cap on your ticket prices of $25 for box seats and $5 for outfield seats.  Once you are selling out your stadiums, start selling your games to local TV.

In 5-10 years, you have a major league.  Announce it to the world.

Mr Miggle

April 17th, 2018 at 1:33 PM ^

I think the lack of plausible stadiums is a big obstacle to overcome. Independent leagues are around, but 6,000 seat stadiums and low ticket prices put a low ceiling on revenues. You could get castoff major leaguers, but I can't see competing with MLB for players they want. The MLB minimum salary is over $500K. That might be more than the payroll of entire leagues now.



April 17th, 2018 at 1:37 PM ^

I know Buffalo would rather have a team that might be Major League in a few years than the AAA team that they have now.

As far as salary goes, yes $500K is the MLB minimum, but the minor league salary is basically minimum wage.  Get the people who aren't on 40-man rosters to begin with.  You can expand when your league has value.  You absolutely need owners capable of absorbing a few years of losses to make this work.  The owners have to be committed to the idea of turning your minor league into a major league.

Mr Miggle

April 17th, 2018 at 5:22 PM ^

Color me extremely skeptical that's possible without a ton of money. I'd guess there are some long term leases on AAA stadiums. Where there aren't, MLB would push for them as soon as they got wind of someone planning to move in on them anywhere.

I don't see cities dumping AAA teams without being convinced an independent league will have the resources to compete with MLB. If I'm deciding for them, you won't convince me by starting out on a shoe string budget. You're 100x more likely to fold in a year than get us a major league franchise.


April 17th, 2018 at 8:50 PM ^

This would absolutely be a huge gamble the owners--a pretty big risk of the initial investment for the potential of either losing it all or for making billions.

I was thinking about baseball because (1) in the early 1950s, the Pacific Coast League (AAA) announced it was dropping out of the minor league agreement and going independent.  Within a year, MLB teams started moving to the west coast--surely not a coincidence.  (2) In the late 1950s, a group of investors announced their intention of starting a third major league.  Within a year, MLB announced the addition of 4 expansion teams (something they had not done in 60 years) and then 4 more by the end of the decade.  Again, surely not a coincidence.

If you look at successful competition from the outside--the AFL, the WHL and the ABA--the way to succeed isn't to become a competing major league, but to be bought out by the existing one.


April 17th, 2018 at 11:27 PM ^

...(Or was it the WFL?) To hang around long enough that they'd merge or get bought out by the NFL? Wasn't that Trump's plan- they moved the schedule from spring to autumn, basically so they would have a better chance of suing the NFL (hoping the NFL would settle out of court),

Instead they won at trial and were award $1 which was tripled(!), and that was basically the end of the league.


April 17th, 2018 at 11:44 PM ^

The only way to make a success of that, instead, would probably be to go heavy on the international side- Mexico, Cuba(?),Central America; ideally Japan, Korea, Taiwan- as well as other sites in North America- but you would definitely want a presence in NY/NJ, LA, Las Vegas, the Southeast, NOLA(?), maybe Vancouver, Portland,

You could probably keep the payroll down (and excite fan interest) if you limited rosters, adding rules that gave more advantage to the offense and reduced the amount of relief pitching.

But facilities are a huge problem- baseball is unique in the design of its playing fields, which make it very difficult to retrofit venues which were not designed for it (LA Coliseum Dodgers, anyone?).



April 17th, 2018 at 10:55 AM ^

Beginning and end of season are played in cold weather.  Drop a dozen games off the season and settle in at about 150 tops start a week later then normal and be done with the WS in October, rather then November.

Speed the game up a little bit also. Make batters stay in the box between pitches shorter time between innings. Just try to keep the game moving a little quicker.

Red is Blue

April 17th, 2018 at 12:58 PM ^

Instead of switching every 1/2 inning make it so the same team stays on the field for 2 1/2 innings in a row.  

So instead of 

1. Away team/Home team

2. Away team/Home team


It'd go, 

1 Away/Home 

2 Home/Away 

after the seventh inning you go back to the traditional switch every 1/2 inning.


No warmups if team was on the field for the previous 1/2 inning.   Would cut down on warm up/transition time.  One downside is pitchers could be on the bench for a long time. 



April 17th, 2018 at 11:52 PM ^

Better training and oversight, sure, but I don't know that making refereeing a full-time job will make that much of an improvement. Even full time officials in various blow calls- often, depending on who you ask and who they root for.

While Michigans, OSU's, Texas's of the world may have loads of money to burn on such things, not sure that the rest of the NCAA membership would be crazy about taking on this additional expense for a marginal difference in accuracy.

I suspect better use of technology is the more likely solution.

Wolverine In Iowa 68

April 17th, 2018 at 9:58 AM ^

boxing is already fixed, as is pro those are out.


I'd say reduce the number and length of TV timeouts in CFB, and get rid of end of game fouling for college basketball (it rarely works and makes the last minute drag on for an hour).  Hold Refs accountable for calling games CONSISTENTLY, regardless of sport.


That's 3.

Red is Blue

April 17th, 2018 at 1:03 PM ^

I like the idea of making end of the game fouling in basketball more punitive such that it eliminates it as a viable option.  The question is how to do that.

Maybe give the team that was fouled the choice of taking shots or inbounding the ball with a fresh shot clock.  After a certain number of fouls, you get 1 shot and the ball.

Another way would be a pre-determined clock run off.  The team that was fouled determines whether to run down the clock or not.


April 17th, 2018 at 10:02 AM ^

College and Professional Baseball: make the game 7 innings long. Maybe this is why softball is more enjoyable to watch? (then again I might just like seeing Michigan win)

College Lacrosse: add a shot clock already! and add the two point shot like the professionals have.

NBA Draft: players can be drafted as high schoolers, but if they go to college, they have to stay at least two years.

Mr Miggle

April 17th, 2018 at 11:03 AM ^

I'd try a pitch clock first. I'd make it mean something too. Take too long and it's called a ball. Make the clock cumulative per inning. Instead of going to extra innings, award the win to the team that pitched faster in more innings. To be fair, limit how often batters can step out and reset the pitch clock when they step back in.

The other change I'd make is with substitutions. Let any player taken out come back in. Take them out twice and they stay on the bench.

A designated base runner would be fun. Let him go in as often as you want.


April 17th, 2018 at 10:16 AM ^

I went on ESPN CFB site last week and in its CFB coverage, 12 of the top 15 stories were SEC related.  But it isn't just the SEC.  I think we can tell when we hear guys talk so confidently about games and teams, and it's obvious they don't watch the games.  Look at how people talked about MSU basketball this season, or how someone writes an article every year about the decline of Tom Brady. Or the Steelers are the most talented team in the NFL. 


April 17th, 2018 at 10:13 AM ^

Time passes and people's interests change.  I think it's facinating that the top three American sports in 1950 (as determined by attendance, revenue and other intangibles I cant remember right now) were:

1. Baseball (currently 3rd behind NFL & NBA)

2. Boxing

3. Horse Racing

My prediction is we're going to see football wane over the next 25 years or so (much like boxing) as the dangers of CTE become more widly known and parents stop their kids from playing the sport.


April 17th, 2018 at 11:00 AM ^

are already decreasing all across the board. Was talking to a coaching buddy of mine this weekend, who recently left his H.S. head gig. Told me it's tough to get players as most of the top athletes at his school now play all the other sports, which are doing very well and don't have CTE scares.

Have also read many articles saying moms are not allowing their kids to even start playing the game anymore and teams all across the country are folding because they can't fill out rosters.  I don't think the sport will ever die, but I agree with you that the sport will wane over the next decade or so.

Red is Blue

April 17th, 2018 at 1:16 PM ^

But wasn't a least some of boxing decline a shift to MMA?  I did a little research and from what I read, the belief is that MMA is actually safer, but my guess is that the shift to MMA's from boxing's wasn't related to the relative safety of the participants, but rather the interest of the fans.

That being said, maybe safety is more important to football, because of the number of participants it takes relative to boxing. 


April 17th, 2018 at 1:31 PM ^

I don't think so. MMA's rise is relatively recent. Boxing was plunging long before that occurred.

Boxing used to be HUGE. Bouts like Louis-Schmeling were international cultural events, and bouts like Ali-Frazier were international cultural events, and they took place 40 years apart. 

But the last great star in boxing was Mike Tyson, and his prime was in the 80s. By the 2000s it was firmly in the fringe. There's still an audience for it, of course--big bouts still do great numbers--but there was a vacuum for quite a while before MMA started to rise.

In my highly amateur opinion, MMA's rise exploited a vacant market by providing a similar kind of action (that is, live fights) with a much better organization. People didn't leave boxing because of MMA. People flocked to MMA because boxing had left them.

Red is Blue

April 17th, 2018 at 3:14 PM ^

The fact that MMA didn't push boxing out, but rather filled the void created by boxing's decline is, I think, irrelevant to the point I was trying to make. If safety was an issue why would MMA arise?

So, is it reasonable to expect football will decline because of safety? Maybe the number of participants in football matters? Does football takes a greater critical mass of participants, or, in other words, more people willing to participate despite potential health issues?


April 17th, 2018 at 10:16 AM ^

in basketball premise for a lot of calls is "who occupies the space" If I'm in the air to block a shot, then I occupy that space, and the space below it so that i can land safely. That's the rule on a jump shot, you will be called for standing underneath them when they land.

swan flu

April 17th, 2018 at 10:15 AM ^

World rally cross.

I would allow any Street legal cars to entered with whatever modifications you want... Probably still looking the HP to avoid deaths.

Watching the fiesta battle the Yaris gets old. How fun would it be to see Volvo c30's, old vw rabbits, Porsche 911's, 93 Ford escorts, etc...

Lorch Hall

April 17th, 2018 at 10:17 AM ^

For whatever marginal gain there has been in the accuracy of calls, it ruins the excitement of the moment -- the thrill is gone, as BB King sang. I hate having to sit there in limbo for 10 minutes while guys behind a screen figure out whether my team will win or lose.