I enjoy watching baseball. I do not love watching baseball. Never is this more evident to me than during the end-of-basketball/beginning-of-baseball time of year. This is because I love watching basketball. One of the main things that I believe makes my affinity for hoops so great is the fact that the sport has evolved appropriately in ways that make it increasingly engaging for the viewer and challenging for the athletes. I suspect that I would love watching baseball if a few mild attempts were made to at least make the game more physically challenging for the players.
Now, before I propose my list of a few things that I think would be wonderful baseball enhancers, let me address the default response I get from many baseball enthusiasts when I begin to suggest changing their game up, “A big part of the game is strategy and psychology.” That is a stupid point. A big part of every game is strategy and psychology, that’s what makes it a game. When you add athleticism into the mix it becomes a sport.
So just to get the base and the ball rolling here are a few minor adjustments to help the game of baseball become a modern sport:
1. PITCH CLOCK: Once the pitcher receives the baseball he has 30 seconds to get rid of it, either by throwing a pitch or throwing the ball to a player on his team that is guarding a base where a player from another team is positioned. If the pitcher does not get rid of the ball within 30 seconds all base runners advance one position including the batter.
2. BATTER’S BOX: Once a batter enters the batter’s box he cannot exit until his turn at bat is over. If he leaves the box he’s out.
3. CHANGING PITCHERS: Any change of pitchers has to take place within the 30-second pitch clock rule. Relievers do not get any warm-ups on the mound. (I’m considering making the hand-off between the pitcher and the reliever a “live ball” situation, but there is a bit of a musical chairs concern for how to get back into regular play)
4. BEAMING: A base runner who is hit with a ball while not standing on a base is out. Defenders can throw the ball as hard as they want at a runner, but if they miss the ball will still be live.
5. TIMEOUTS: Each team gets one timeout per inning. And they are no rollover timeouts. (There’s some strategy for you)
Now this invigoration of the athleticism in baseball will cause a lot of actual heart attacks in the sport immediately, but maybe that’s just what it needs. Also, I’m not saying that these ideas are whole solution. I’m sure that there are more drastic changes that could be made in the future; live bears, a dynamically weaponized ball, every base is replaced with a live baby, but the five suggestions above are a reasonable and modest start.