It seems like nine out of every ten people I talk to think baseball is boring. Actually, nine out of every ten sports fans I talk to think baseball is boring, everyone else can barely stand it. The number one complaint is that the game is too slow and too long. This is true. Most people with a life don’t have four hours to watch a game. Most people who don’t have a life don’t have the time either. The reality is, not much can be done to change the pace of the game. Even if there was, I don’t think the powers that be would care to change a thing, as change and Major League Baseball don’t exactly go hand in hand. So, if you can’t do anything about the game itself, what can be done to make the league more interesting. Here’s a few suggestions that would make the baseball season much more fun and help the league reach more fans.
1. Shorten the season: In late winter when the baseball season is about to start, my girlfriend always says the same thing to me – “I can’t believe baseball is starting already.” Even though she doesn’t know much about sports, she has a great point. Baseball is a summer game, the season starts too early and ends way to late. 162 games is way to long. Players get injured and fans lose interest, that’s why I think the season should be 120 games at the most. The season could start two weeks later than it usually does, and would end towards the end of august, a week before the start of the NFL season. With less games, division races would be tighter, which would keep teams in the playoff hunt longer, which bring me to my next point.
2. Add more teams to the playoffs: The good thing about the NBA and NHL is that about half of the teams make the playoffs every year. Why should things be any different in baseball? Imagine how pissed off you’d be after playing 162 games, and then your team missed the playoffs by a game or two. It never made sense to me why the league with the most regular season games, had the least amount of playoff teams. I suggest having a similar playoff format to the NBA and NHL – 16 total teams, but instead of eight teams from the American League and eight from the National League, the six division winners would make it in, followed by the next ten best teams regardless of whether they play in the AL or NL. The teams would be seeded 1 to 16, with the first two round being a best out of five series, and the final two going to the traditional best out of seven. Changing to this style of playoff format would increase fan interest not only during the post season, but during the regular season as well, due to more teams having the chance to make the playoffs.
3. Add the DH to the National League: It’s usually considered an automatic out when the pitcher comes to the plate. Remember how funny Randy Johnson looked trying to swing a bat? Pitching and hitting are two different jobs; pitchers should stick to the mound and stay out of the batters box. Another reason why pitchers shouldn’t hit – they suck at it. Pitchers are the most active players in the game, and they shouldn’t have to worry about hitting. The major pro of changing the DH rule in the NL would be more offense. Also, it would limit the risk of injury and create an extra roster spot for someone.
In the post steroid era there’s no better time to make changes like this to. Will any of these happen over the next few years? Maybe, but probably not. Like the game itself, Major League Baseball is very slow when it comes to change. The one major rule change that MLB has made over the past few seasons has been awarding home field advantage to the winning league in the All-Star game. Most fans will agree that this is one of the most idiotic rules in all of sports.
There would be a few major roadblocks in making these changes – Money and Baseball Purist. A shorter regular season would mean less money for owners, but some of that would be made up through an extended playoffs. Baseball purist will argue that shortening the season and extending the playoffs would have a bad affect on the record books. Aren’t the record books already destroyed thanks to the PED use of the last two decades?
The new generation of sports fan would love to see a little bit more of variety in baseball, and that’s why I think these rules would have a very positive impact on the game. For the most part, the sport in very predictable, but expanding the playoffs would give more teams a chance at winning a championship. If Major League Baseball is interested in expanding its fan base, it should consider rules like this. Let’s face it – the sport of baseball will always be slow, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.