Let's admit it, baseball is slow and boring. Yes, there are the traditionalists that say it's a thinking man's game: 90% mental and 10% physical. But this is not the 1920's anymore and the rise of football and basketball as America's favorite sports directly corresponds to advances in the physicality and pace of those games. Just watch a football or basketball game from the 1940s and you will see that there have been major strides made in the evolution of those games today. Baseball, however, has been left in the dust and its inability to adapt and harmonize with 21st-century athleticism is not only a detriment to the fans of baseball but more so to the human imagination. I mean, it is a game, not a ceremonial procession. Therefore, I propose a few new changes to the game of baseball. These nuances will help the game evolve with increased pace that makes greater use of game time and the physical gifts of those playing:
- Three straight balls equal a walk.
- Two straight outs end the inning.
- Pitchers have 24 seconds to throw a pitch after receiving the ball.
- Home team forgoes bottom of the 8th or visiting team forgoes top of the 9th if ahead 3+ runs.
- Home team hits the top of innings 1 thru 4 and bottom of innings 5 thru 9.
- THREE STRAIGHT BALLS EQUALS A WALK
No one wants to wait for a pitcher to find his groove or for him to loft that fourth ball over the batters box for the intentional walk. Although it seems most umps will give a strike to any pitcher who even remotely finds the plate at 3-0, I think he should be punished for having missed terribly the first three times. Because what inevitably ends up happening is the count goes to 3-2 and the batter fouls off the next few pitches, prolonging the at-bat. Sadly, it may not culminate into anything and the fans are cheated out of a potential run scoring opportunity. However, if that third ball goes for a walk, you have a runner on first and maybe, just maybe, you will get to see someone score in an inning you decided not go to the concession stand.
Moreover, consider the pressure the pitcher is put in when he goes 2-0. He absolutely has to throw a strike. But it can't be right over the plate or it might get drilled 400 feet. The tension can be felt. But think that after just two pitches into the at-bat, we, the fans, have the opportunity to see "something" happen. No more waiting and no more rewarding inefficiency.
[Now if he throws a strike at any point before 2-0 than the count will run to a "full count" meaning that a walk will be only rewarded after 4 balls.]
- TWO STRAIGHT OUTS ENDS THE INNING
I wouldn't just put pressure on the pitchers and not the batters. They too have to feel the sting of unproductive at-bats. That's why if hitters make two straight outs to start the inning, then the inning (or half part of the inning) ends. Ah-ha. That means that hitters have to put together a solid string of at-bats to score and it has to be on the out set of the inning. Obviously if the first hitter gets on, then the team batting extends their out to three. However, at least there is pressure for the first couple batters to get on for the inning to have any life to it.
- PITCHERS HAVE 24 SECONDS TO THROW THEIR PITCH AFTER RECEIVING THE BALL
This is a no-brainer. The pace of pitchers these days can get pretty ridiculous. It really shouldn't take a pitcher any longer than 20 seconds to throw a pitch considering there is no one there trying to stop him. Twenty-four seconds is a good pace and it keeps everyone on their toes. The rhythm of the game improves and if the pitcher does not make his pitch within the allotted time then a ball is called.
[This can prove to be especially critical during 2-0 counts when pitchers have to work with their catchers to figure what to throw next. If he doesn't make the throw in time, a walk will be granted.]
- HOME TEAM FORGOES BOTTOM OF THE EIGHTH INNING/VISITING TEAM FORGOES TOP OF THE 9TH INNING IF AHEAD 3+ RUNS
How many times have I seen teams up a bunch of runs in the eighth or ninth and still go hit when they really just want to get the game over with. Leading teams should be required to forgo the bottom of the 8th (or top of the 9th) and close out the game. Now if the game is out of reach then this makes it much easier for them, say if they are up 6+ runs. But if the ahead team is just up three runs then the pressure is on them to close it out. The 3+ runs idea rapidly shifts the momentum of the game away from the team that is ahead while putting pressure on them to close it out. This adds suspense while providing an opportunity for the closer to earn his pay and the team with the lead to earn the win.
- HOME TEAM HITS TOP HALF INNINGS 1 THRU 4 AND BOTTOM HALF INNINGS 5 THRU 9
Baseball should be like any other game where there is a "changing of the directions." Except in this case we are talking about a change in hitting order of the teams. Now the nuance here is two fold: (1)home teams hit first and last (if necessary) which allows them to go on the offensive from the outset; (2) visiting teams hit back to back from the bottom of the 4th to the top of the 5th. This is interesting because although the home team has "home field advantage" and hits first, hitting twice may give momentum back in the hands of the visiting squad.
Now these are just a few of the ideas that I think can revolutionize the game while still maintaining its integrity. Ultimately, the game is sped up which increases pace and creates a better rhythm. Some may sound good to you and some may sound downright horrible. Let me know what you think in the comments below, and who knows, we may see these changes in baseball one day. Hopefully they won't take as long as replay did.