Baseball is great. It is a form of unification for many years. Everyone on the planet knows who Babe Ruth is, and names like Derek Jeter and Barry Bonds (not for good reasons) are household names throughout the world. Eventually everything dies, but is it baseball's time to pass away?
Last week, I ran a poll using my social media sites Facebook and Twitter to find out what percentage of baseball fans have the unique ability to watch a nine inning game without losing interest. 36% of the people who replied told me that they couldn't watch a game without watching basketball and missing two innings or eating dinner in the middle of the game. That isn't the only reason why I think baseball needs to find a way to mix things up to bring back interest in America's pastime.
As a New Yorker, I know a few odd Red Sox fans around school who are packed into a classroom full of Yankees and Mets fans. Red Sox fans and Yankee fans are having a simple debate that so far has lasted for many, many years. The Yankee fan always replies that the Yankees have more titles when a BoSox fan has the nerve to say the Red Sox are a better team than America's team. A similar argument may apply to fans of the NBA or the NFL. Baseball fans could say that baseball is America's game featuring America's team, but in recent years the NBA and NFL have the edge over Major League Baseball. It was recorded that regular season NFL games had substantially higher television ratings than the MLB's postseason. When the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers squared off in early October, TBS recorded that 11.1% of Tampa area households tuned in to watch the game, but when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the Bengals in the same time slot, 15.1% of Tampa households tuned in. When the Twins played the Yankees in the postseason, 22% of Minnesota households watched, but when Old Man Brett Favre took the field, 45.7% of the households in the Twin Cities watched. This year, the NBA playoff ratings skyrocketed, according to reports. Baseball could say it has been around longer and the greatest it is game of the greatest country on the face of the Earth, but it baseball is no competition to football or basketball. There are a number of reasons why.
The pace! Make it more exciting! My family and I traveled to 24 different ballparks throughout the country. When we started traveling outside of the Tri-State area to watch games, most games were fun and exciting to watch. Now in our sixth or seventh year, my mom, who is a decent baseball fan, gets up bored four to five times per game just to stroll around the ballparks. The pace of baseball games is way too slow. Most diehard fans don't have the attention span to watch three hours straight of strikeouts and two home runs also known as baseball. This is even more true especially with the steroid era over. Baseball needs to find a way to rejuvenate home run hitting without cheating. The only two people who benefit from perfect games and no-hitters are the pitchers who receive $10,000 autograph deals and the record books. Casual fans could care less about the one run game, and even if they go by faster than normal. Strikeouts don't make the casual fan jump up and down like they’re on a trampoline. With the "elimination" of performance enhancing drug use, maybe the only way to add home runs to games is to change the distance of home plate to the fence in new ballparks. It seems unrealistic, but in the past, some organizations have changed the distances of their outfield walls. Chicks dig the long ball, right? Well without any home runs, there is nothing for the ladies to love.
End instant replay use! It may sound crazy because of how long people have fought for this to be put in use, but replay slows the game down. For over 100 years, baseball was fine with umpires’ eyeballs making the final decision on calls, but with replay on home runs, the game is going at a good pace until a 10-minute potty break for the umpires to decide if the ball cleared the fence. For over a century, calls have been screwed up, and guess what, the game lived on A-OK, until now. President Obama strived for change, but in sports, change isn't all that great.
A Cinderella as a part of a new playoff system! Hopefully adding some new teams to the postseason will spark some interest, but imagine if 16 of the 30 teams made the postseason. If this was applied to last years’ standings, the Oakland A's would play the top seed, Tampa Bay Rays, in the first round of the MLB Sweet Sixteen, and who knows, you could see some upsets. With more teams in the playoffs, more fans of different teams get a fair shot at knocking off the billion dollar Yankees in the playoffs and winning a World Series for their miserable fans. I'm glad I'm a Yankee fan and won't have to suffer watching my team lose 100 games (Poor Mariners fans, if there are any left).
8-second rule! No, I'm not expanding the popular rule for food that drops on the floor. I'm suggesting a condition similar to the NBA's shot clock. A pitcher must be in his motion within eight seconds of receiving the baseball from the catcher, unless he is cleaning the ball with a rosin bag or talking to a member of his team. No stalling pitchers!
I want to know what you, the readers, think Major League Baseball could do to improve the game and your interest in watching baseball all-year-round. Comment below, where you could now use your FaceBook account to comment.