More ways to make baseball better
Last week, this space was devoted to ideas of how to make baseball better. Here are seven more proposals to improve the game:
• If a game features a giveaway, everyone who buys a ticket gets the item. That means hats for everyone in the park, not just the first 10,000 fans to arrive. Don’t disappoint a paying fan. If you have too many hats, give them away to charity.
• Help the teams at the bottom. All sports have some type of “sharing” designed to build competitive balance, but baseball’s is the weakest. Only six teams have ever paid the “luxury tax” for spending too much. Baseball’s long season and the relatively small number of playoff teams make for a lot of meaningless games.
• All sports have instant replay appeals now, but baseball’s appeals are slower than molasses. Limit appeals to scoring plays. If someone beats out a contested single with no one on base, so what?
• Any reliever who comes into a game must face a minimum of two batters. This would slow the mind-numbing parade of pitching changes. It might even make some teams carry one less pitcher.
• Future stadiums ought to have larger playing fields. There used to be unique places such as Comiskey Park and Yankee Stadium. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field endure. Too many parks now are just homer-happy circles.
• Limit the number of defensive shifts. Maybe eight per game. Shift against a team’s best hitter, or in a critical part of the game, fine. But no more shifts against the No. 8 hitter in the third inning.
• Require slightly heavier and thicker bats. This won’t help the batter who can’t catch up to a fastball, but it should result in fewer homers, more balls in play and more balls hit to the opposite field.