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Making Baseball More Interesting

baseball more interestingThere is a lot of talk about speeding up baseball games, but this is only one way of achieving the real end: holding the attention of viewers, especially on TV, given the fierce competition for advertising revenue. Other ways of making baseball more interesting would be to make the DH common to both leagues, eliminate deliberate walks and stop batters from fouling off balls an indefinite number of times.

When deciding upon changes, the main decision criterion must be greater viewer interest and numbers, thus reducing boredom due to our growing attention deficit disorder. All sports are engaged in a fierce battle for advertising dollars and cannot afford to be complacent.

The DH

Only the American League has the DH. In the National League, the pitcher has to hit. Advocates of pitchers hitting say that it challenges the manager with interesting options, such as when to put in a pinch hitter and pull the pitcher, who often cannot hit very well. However, it is extremely boring to watch a batter getting deliberately walked just so the pitcher can get to the next batter, who is often the opposing pitcher. So, we have two boring at-bats to endure: the deliberate walk and the easy-out pitcher. OK, so the DH can also be deliberately walked in order to get to a supposedly less dangerous hitter. This situation calls for the second rule change.

Deliberate Walks

A deliberate walk is boring to watch and should be eliminated or minimized. One way to do this would be to allow a deliberately walked batter to take two bases instead of just being awarded first base. It would be up to the umpire to decide whether a walk is deliberate or not. The criterion should be something like: at least two pitches should be over the plate, one of which must be a strike. When all pitches are outside the strike zone the umpire needs to decide whether the walk is deliberate or not.

Excessive Foul Offs

It is not very much fun to watch a batter foul off a ball 20 times. There is already a rule to cover this situation that just needs to be extended. When a batter is bunting, a third foul is counted as strike 3. Why not extend this rule to all hitting styles, not just bunts? Even if it was 5 foul offs to count as strike 3, the game would be less boring than allowing a batter to stand up there hitting foul balls indefinitely.

Objections?

The main objection to such proposed changes is likely to be tradition. Baseball makes fundamental changes very slowly. It is also partly about maintaining the integrity of player statistics over the years. However, the world around baseball is changing at a much faster rate so baseball needs to step up its readiness to change. Because so many sports are competing for advertising dollars, no sport can afford to sit back and rest on tradition if it wants to stay relevant.

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