DUBUQUE — October is upon us once again, and with it comes Major League Baseball’s postseason, and the least-exciting championship in American major pro sports: The World Series.
This year, I’ve decided to forgo my usual autumn ritual of ignoring the World Series completely, and instead, offer some valuable advice to the MLB powers-that-be on how they might make their product a little bit more tolerable to Americans under the age of 65. Making the game of baseball watchable is no easy feat, but I propose that it can be done.
First of all, Major League Baseball needs to lift its ban on performance-enhancing drugs. I know what you’re thinking right now. “Of course Major League Baseball needs steroids. Tell me something I don’t already know.” Well, smart guy, sometimes the obvious bears uttering.
Does anyone really get excited by a well-placed sacrifice bunt up the
first-base line to move a runner over? Hell no. People want to see freakish atomic supermen jacked up on HGH and shark testosterone knocking moonshots into the next county. Just take a look at baseball’s most beloved hero, the universally celebrated all-time home-run king, Barry Bonds. Nobody cared about Barry when he was an average-sized, perennial MVP-caliber ballplayer in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t until he juiced up in San Francisco and began his assault on the record books (as well as marine wildlife of McCovey Cove) that people began to really pay attention to him. Juice them all; it’ll make the game a lot more entertaining.
Now that we’ve made the players more interesting, it’s time to redesign the field. I think three bases are too many. Let’s eliminate first base entirely, and make the second-base line run straight through the pitcher’s mound. While we’re at it, let’s move the mound up a little bit. Baseball purists are always talking about the intense confrontation in the showdown between pitcher and batter, but how intense can it really be when the two men are standing 60 feet apart? Place the pitcher’s mound four feet in front of home plate and that element of human confrontation will multiply exponentially.
Next, let’s make a few adjustments to the game’s equipment. I’m tired of pop-ups being guaranteed outs; it’s time to do away with the baseball mitt. We see fans in the stands making barehanded grabs on foul balls and home runs all the time, is it too much to expect the same from the professionals? The standard baseball bat needs some retooling, as well. I envision a hardwood version of
the bright red, oversized whiffle ball bats we used as kids. Think “Captain Caveman.”
No discussion about improving the entertainment value of baseball would be complete without examining the game’s excruciatingly slow pace. How about instituting a pitch clock? Give the pitcher 10 seconds between pitches; if the pitch clock expires, the runner advances. Conversely, batters should be allowed only one swing per at-bat; hit it or sit down. By my calculations, a nine-inning baseball game played under these rules could be completed in about 35 minutes, leaving us all with more time to watch football.