If you’re a baseball fan, by the end of the season, this could be you.
On the eve of a World Series that will not include my beloved Yankees, it’s time to complain about baseball, and to offer some suggestions as to how it could - and should - improve. Because while it’s still a wonderful game - the national pastime, after all - each season, baseball is getting harder and harder to really love.
Let’s start with instant replay. The need for it is obvious:
Speaking of the Tigers, remember this?
The only remotely logical argument MLB has ever made against instant replay being used is that it would make the games too long. But MLB claiming it’s protective of games being too long is like Donald Trump claiming he’s protective of his dignity.
Even the umps should want more replay, so they’re not on the hook for as many poor calls.
Every other sport is using replay significantly more than baseball. Baseball’s gotta catch up.
SHORTEN THE GAMES
Games already take too long, and of course this problem gets even worse in the postseason, when between pitches, every batter steps out of the box to adjust his gloves and say about fourteen Hail Marys.
Baseball is rightfully proud of itself for being a sport without a clock, but if it had a pitch clock, it could still be proud for not having a game clock, and we could get home from night games before it’s time to start cooking breakfast.
GIVE THE PLAYERS MORE REST
A common baseball complaint is that the season is too long, but clocking in at around 7 months from Opening Day to the end of the World Series, it’s actually shorter than the 8-month NBA and NHL.
Another complaint is that there are too many games, but let’s be real – the owners are never, ever going to reduce the number of games played, because that would cut into revenue.
Anyway, I don’t think there are necessarily too many games – I think the problem is there are too many games in a row, without rest.
Note the following:
During the season, the contract the players have with management states they can play as many as twenty days in a row without a day off. The regular season lasts around 6 months, 180 days, and the regular season is 162 games long. So one can guess that an MLB player gets about 3 days off per month during the regular season.
3 days off per month?! Are you kidding me?!
Guys playing twenty days in a row makes no sense. Guys playing with so few days off in general makes no sense. We’re all paying to see the best possible level of play and entertainment, but when these guys are grinding it out sometimes 20 days in a row, there’s no WAY they can be their best, no matter how much they’re being paid. As fans, we’re simply not getting the best possible product.
So, why not play…
People like double-headers. Almost every Saturday should be a day-night double header, with the guarantee that the players are going to have either Thursday or Monday off (Friday and Sunday could never be off-days because along with Saturday, those are naturally the big revenue days). The great thing about a Saturday day-night doubleheader is that parents can take young kids to the afternoon game. As it is now, there are sometimes Saturday and Sunday day games which allow parents to take young kids, but why should that be a once-in-a-while thing? Why not every weekend?
For each double-header you add, you’re adding a day off, without reducing the number of games. Fans get more flexibility and the players get more rest. Everyone wins.
And, if you’re a season ticket holder, you know how hard it is to go five days in a row. The games are late, they go on and on…why wouldn’t some of this be thought through?
And maybe take a couple of those added rest days and add them to the postseason, so that that whole tournament isn’t mushed together like a series of chores someone is trying to get through as soon as possible.
I mean, the postseason is out of control! Let’s just take the Yankees as an example. In the Division Series against the Orioles this year, they played the deciding Game 5 on 5PM on a Friday (Oct 12)! Starting a decisive game at 5 o’clock on a Friday?? You know how hard that is to get to?
It’s total lunacy!
Then, as if that’s not bad enough, the Yankees had to turn around and play Game 1 of the ALCS the very next day!
Why was there such screwy scheduling? Because with the fall rain and the lack of flexibility in the regular season schedule, games had to be crammed together. Adding consistent regular season double-headers would help solve that problem.
Another reason the schedule is so inflexible and draining on the players is that teams play games all over the country, and “off-days” usually mean travel days. So even days off aren’t days off - they’re days traveling, which no one loves, no matter how nice the accommodations.
This is an easy, logical fix: It’s time to realign the divisions.
Why are the Yankees playing the Angels, A’s and Mariners 27 times each season, without playing the Phillies and Nationals, who are right in their backyard, even once most seasons?
Divisions and leagues should be divided by geography. Why can’t the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Nationals be in the same division, with the Blue Jays and Rays moving to their proper geographic divisions?
Why can’t baseball be aligned according to LOGIC?
This way, again, the players could be more rested for every game, offering fans the best possible product.
Additionally, with logical geographic realignment, we could avoid the incredibly stupid 1 PM Thursday game, which neither adults nor kids can attend without skipping out on work or school. (These are known as getaway days; the games are played that early so, again, teams can take a flight to some far-off location that night.) I’m all for weekday day games, but they should be at 4 or 5 so we can have the semblance of a normal day before going to the ballpark.
Besides, it’s got to be taxing for players to play until 11 or 12 at night and then get up for a 1 o’clock game the next day. Is that necessary?
I’m not asking baseball to reinvent the wheel. I’m asking it to apply some common sense changes to a season that, great though it is, creates too much of a strain on players, fans and umpires alike.
What about you? How would you change baseball for the better?