With the talk of reducing the current 162 game regular season schedule gaining some steam among insiders, it’s time to take a look at other possible changes and improvements. I know you definitely won’t agree with most if any of them, but I believe in them and, hopefully, you’ll at least see the reasoning behind it. So, without further ado, I give you the inaugural ShoesOnSports OCTOPUS! Eight ways to fix something that is more profitable than ever!
1. Reduce the schedule to 154 game
The most obvious. The World Series ends far too late in the year. I think everybody would agree with that. This is also not a game meant to be played while wearing four layers of clothes and a mesh mask to protect from frostbite. In a perfect world, I’d actually reduce this a bit further, but we know what a ruckus this will cause over the income being given up by the owners by reducing the amount of event dates. Cutting just over a week off the schedule makes games more meaningful, helps players better manage their personal wear and tear and ends the season sooner in the calendar year. This should happen.
2. Abolish interleague play!
It came, it was fun for a while and now it’s redundant for no reason. A lot of teams don’t have “natural” rivals and so much of this is forced beyond the fact that it takes away from the appeal of the World Series and All-Star Game. Those events had an extra layer of intrigue to them in the past because we hadn’t seen these teams or players go at it during the year. That’s lost now and it’s time to fix it. Plus, as a Mets fan who couldn’t care less about the Yankees, those games have zero extra meaning to me beyond being a game I could make money on by re-selling my tickets. Besides if we’re going to cut games off the schedule, we need to reallocate those matchups because we’re about to…
3. Abolish divisions!
Right now, we have three division leaders and two Wild Card teams that qualify for some form of postseason play in each league. We also have unbalanced schedules within divisions and interleague play which leads to an unequal strength of schedule between the teams all competing for the same playoff positions. By eliminating both interleague play and the heaviness of a predominant inter-divisional schedule, we turn to playing all teams within the NL equally with the top 5 qualifying and playing under the same postseason format. If we want the regular season to matter, we can’t continue to have teams from stronger divisions (i.e. the 2015 Pirates) get punished while division winners in weak divisions (i.e. the 2015 Mets) get a guaranteed series of play because of quirk. The best teams should be in the best positions.
5. Force hitters and pitchers to hurry up
I was watching a Mets classic game recently and was taken aback with how quick the game moved from pitch to pitch. Ron Darling was on the mound for the Mets and as soon as he received the ball back from the catcher, he was back on the rubber ready to throw his next pitch. The hitter never left the box and was prepared for it and the game moved at a brisk pace. This is important. Games take too long. I love baseball and I think games have an incredible tendency to get boring and slow. What does that say about casual fans? Where’s the incentive for them to sit and watch or attend a game? I’m constantly disheartened by how many people at games nowadays couldn’t care less about the game. They’re there for the clubs or perks or whatever else the stadium offers that means they don’t have to sit in their seat and watch the game. You’re not building newer, younger fans with a three and a half hour trudge through molasses.
6. Call the high strike
We say it all the time: the strike zone is from the knees to the letters, but hardly ever is anything above the belt called a strike. Start calling it. Make these players swing the bats and keep the game moving. We all get strategy and the benefits and taking pitches and trying to get the starter out of the game, but we’ve got other stuff to do and while we want to watch the game, we also want to get to bed at a decent time. Offense drives interest. Make players swing the bats. This isn’t even a new rule. Just call it the way it’s written.
7. Ban “God Bless America”
Keep your politics out of my baseball. This is not the national anthem and I do not have to stand and remove my hat for this. I don’t and I never will. We honor America at the beginning of each game by playing the real national anthem. That’s sufficient.
8. Day games on weekends: No excuses
No more ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. No more FOX game of the week at 7 PM on Saturdays. Give both networks an NFL-like 1Pm east coast and 4PM west coast game and that’s it. While I understand that people work weekends now more than ever, you’re not doing yourselves any favors by continually making kids leave games early because they take forever and Dad wants to beat the traffic. This also serves another purpose by making MLB destination afternoon viewing during months without other sports competition and opens fans up to seeing players and teams they’re not accustomed to. The game has become so regionalized that this would help in the marketing and exposure of superstar players. Sure, you know Mike Trout is great, but how many of you that don’t have MLB At-Bat and don’t work nights actually get to see him play. He’s just a name in a box score to most people. That has to change. This is a good way to help that along.
There you have it. Eight ways to improve the presentation and nature of the baseball season. Comments, complaints and verbal jousting welcome and expected.
Twitter: @MaximusSexPower, E-Mail: ShoesOnSports@gmail.com