December 10, 2023

Making Baseball Fun Again

Author: Stephen Downes
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Photo: Caitlin Tomotsugu throws a pitch. Photo credit: Darryl Gershman, MLB

Baseball is of course a great sport. But there’s no end to the things people want to do to make it ‘better’.

For example, some changes will be tried out in the Independent Atlantic League this year.

Changes to be made during the season:

  • Computers to call balls and strikes
  • Mound to be moved back to 62’6″ in July.
  • Bases to be made 3″ wider, which means now 89’9″ to 1B
  • Two infielders on each side of second base before pitch is thrown to minimize shifts
  • Pitcher must throw to at least 3 batters or complete inning unless hurt
  • No mound visits except medical and pitching changes

In the same spirit, I’ve come up with some other changes that might be fun:

  • 4 strikes per out, but a called strike is worth two strikes

  • Bases that change colour when touched by runner, change a different colour when touched by fielder with baseball; balls that change colour when touched by runner; bases that change yet another colour when touched by runner being touched by ball.
  • Runs can be saved by a team to be counted the next time the same two teams play, however, these runs can be used against another team that is saving runs against you, to offset any runs that they use.
  • Double home-run if the ball makes it into the second deck in the outfield (or clears the stadium in other stadiums). Only the batter scores double; runners still count one.
  • Second and third moved closer to home plate to make the distance for each base sorter and shorter, to encourage players trying to stretch singles into doubles and triples.
  • Four outs per inning, but balls hit into the air and caught count as two outs.
  • Tennis-ball inning. One inning (I’d say the 7th) is designated as a light-ball inning.
  • Batter clock. Batter must be in the box ready to bat within 20 seconds of the previous out. Once in the box, must stay in the box (unless running out a hit ball, or unless injured). Box made slightly larger to allow for motion during a swing. Pitcher may pitch any time the batter is in the box. If the batter leaves the box during the at-bat, it counts as a strike.
  • Pitcher allowed to use spit, Vaseline, whatever, on the ball. Batter is allowed corked bat, extra pine tar, etc.
  • Each team allowed to carry one DEP (drug-enhanced player). Players that fail drug test automatically become DEP for the remainder of the year. Teams with more than one DEP must send excess players down to the minors.
  • Outfield grass gets deeper and deeper the closer it gets to the fence.
  • Each team may have a designated BP (Beanie Player). The player is allocated an automatic extra base on any hit they make. However, runners in front of them do not move up; if there’s a player on the base ahead of the BP, then they simply switch places.
  • Due to the longer grass in the outfield, there will be one (1) goat in the outfield. These goats are not required to eat the grass, but may. Goats are not to be left in the outfield between games.
  • Once a game, the defending team is allowed to put a second ball (2B) into play. The ball must be put into play by means of it being thrown by the manager (not a coach or substitute) from the dugout and onto the field. The ball remains in play for one play only, and when in play, may be used in the same manner as a batted ball for the purpose of force outs or tag outs.
  • Players removed from a game may be returned to the game later, except in the case of pinch runners; when a player is removed for a pinch runner, they are permanently removed from the game.
  • Players may be moved up or down from the minors only on the first of the month (Swap Day). Teams with injuries between Swap Days must sign free agents to take the place of the injured player from a pool of designated free agents (DFAs). DFAs are paid at the same rate as the player they replace.
  • Player agents must be paid a flat rate, and not a percentage of the player’s salary.
  • The luxury tax is eliminated; a hard ceiling (called the designated spend (DS) is set). Teams are normally expected to have 25 players, where their total salary is at or below the DS. If a team goes over the DS, then at that time, from the roster as it exists when the DS is exceeded, players of the team’s choosing are dropped from the roster until the DS is reached (so a team can pay a player more, but at the expense of (say) having a 25-player roster). Players dropped from the roster become DFAs and are placed into the DFA pool until they sign a contract with another team.
  • Teams spending below the DS can expand their roster up to 40 players, or until they hit their DS.
  • These rules do not change in September; there is no automatically enlarged September roster.
  • Mascots for both the home and away team are allowed on the field during play. They may not interfere with balls in play or players, but they may interact with each other.
  • If the batting team hits their own mascot with a batted ball (fair or foul!), the batter is out; if the batting team hits the other team’s mascot mascot with a batted ball (fair or foul!) the batter is automatically safe at first.
  • For one inning each game (the fifth) mascots must stay inside the infield (but behind the pitcher).
  • If a mascot is hit by a thrown ball, the ball is dead and play stops; players must return to their last touched base.
  • Players may wear earphones/ear buds and communicate with each other and the bench; however, these are on open frequencies, may be part of the broadcast, and may be listened to by the other team.
  • Players caught swearing (using an amended version of George Carlin’s list) on the microphone must put $1000 into the swear jar; the contents of the swear jar is distributed among the stadium ushers at the end of the game.
  • Teams must have one bobblehead day for every player on the roster through the course of the year.
  • Each team may designate one ‘unsafe base’ at the beginning of the game – one base for one inning  some time in the first half of the game.  Players on this base may be tagged out during play.
  • If a team is training by more than four runs, it may add an extra base anywhere on the field. Home runs hit with all four bases filled are called Super Grand Slam Home Runs.
  • At the end of the season the order of the first 10 spots in the draft is determined in a draft-pick tournament (DPT) that is run alongside the playoffs and world series. The lowest placing 10 teams are entered into this tournament; the winner gets the first pick, the second place team gets the second pick, and so on.
  • In subsequent years, the number of teams participating in the DPT is determined by lottery; it may be as few as 5 and as many as 15.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that baseball would be a much improved sport if these changes were adopted.

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