Thursday, March 10, 2005

WAYS TO IMPROVE BASEBALL

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Professional baseball season is nearly upon us! The "Boys of Summer"(actually spring, summer and fall) are already back in Spring Training, where hope springs eternal.

So what! Well, that's what some of you non-baseball types, (probably arch-conservatives like Bruce Tinsley, author of cartoon strip "Mallard Fillmore", who occasionally makes fun of baseball in his comic strip) might say. The only baseball I ever played was in sandlots, but I still love the game, and every year I spend all winter waiting for the next major league season to begin... even if they are on the verge of a strike, or if half of them are on steroids, or whatever.

While the national pastime continues to draw large crowds, I believe there are ways to increase the number of fans. The usual ways people would like to improve baseball might include limiting the number of pick-off throws a pitcher can make to first base; banning intentional walks; fiddling with the strike zone, etc. Well, those might all be fine, but what about some REAL changes to the game itself? Let's try a few NEW ideas.

1. Play the game on sand.
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The entire playing field would be loose sand, much like that in which beach volleyballers play. It would be full of dips and hollows to stop grounders and line drives dead where they landed. Running would be very difficult, and it would take fielders a lot longer to get to the ball. Base runners would also have a tough time generating speed on the base paths. While this might actually tend to slow the game down even further, it might make it more interesting.

2. Play the game on ice.
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This would be the reverse of playing it on sand. Can't you just see it now? Outfielders and baserunners would display blazing speed, gliding around the outfield or the basepaths. Spectacular plays could become routine.

3. Place giant, tight stretchy nets around all boundaries of the field, from the level of the playing field to about 100 feet above the ground.

There would be no foul balls; the ball would be "in play" at all times. This would dramatically decrease the number of home runs, if not eliminating the home run outright... but just think of all the crazy bounces you'd get. For example, a flyball hit to right field might hit the net about 15 feet above the ground and go sailing high in the air toward center field. And if you had a stretchy net all the way across the top, think of how much that would add to the hilarity. A hard rubber playing surface and "super balls"for baseballs just might be the final ingredients for making the game entirely, unpredictably fast-paced. Mitts might have to evolve into something like lacrosse sticks.

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I made this final suggestion once to the Seattle Mariners baseball club, in writing, when they were looking at designs for a new stadium:

4. Play the game in a floating stadium.
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Seattle has a definite marine flair to its local culture. Many people commute to work from nearby islands by using the Washington State Ferry system. Why not build a floating stadium?

People would park their cars in large lots near the waterfront and walk onto the boat. The stadium engines would start up, and the field would disembark for the center of Puget Sound. The pilots steering this massive craft would be able to turn the field so the opposing team's batters were looking straight into the sun every time up. Or, under-field generators could create enough turbulence for the stadium to rock up and down when the other team was up to bat. This would definitely provide a fantastic home-field advantage for the Seattle Mariners.

For the seating, different sections would actually be separate from the stadium but would be tied to it, so the stands might have movement independent of that of the playing field. And while we're at it, why not have a glass-bottom playing field? Fans could "oooh" and "aaah" at various sea creatures like orcas, porpoises or sea lions which would be visible at times beneath the glass.

Thankfully, the Mariners settled on the design for their current ballpark, Safeco Field, a true gem among baseball stadiums.
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But my idea? I think it would have been infinitely more interesting.

4 Comments:

Blogger Phil said...

I can't wait until the current contract ends, and baseball does what hockey has. We need a salary cap and revenue sharing to level the playing field. It is going to be a blood bath, but once it is finished, every baseball team can field a team with potential.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Amen, baseball brother. I agree with you a hunnerd percent on that call! Something has to be done to put an end to travesties like the NY Yankees and their perennial All-Star team. (Notice I did say travesties, not transvestites!)

Not that Frankensteinbrenner shouldn't be allowed to spend his own money to buy the ballplayers he wants, but... well. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what the majors would be like if the teams all had similar payrolls? That would show us who the truly good GMs in the game are. I'm sure Brian Cashman of the Yanks is pretty good, but I'd like to see what he could do with a budget like that of, say, K.C., Pittsburgh or Oakland...

10:34 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

King George may consider it 'his' money. But just how much would he make if his beloved Yankees played a game against themselves? If the 25 'little' teams simply forfeited all games in Yankee stadium, and he had to refund the ticket prices, he might understand it takes two teams playing a game to take the money from the fans.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

King George may consider it 'his' money. But just how much would he make if his beloved Yankees played a game against themselves? If the 25 'little' teams simply forfeited all games in Yankee stadium, and he had to refund the ticket prices, he might understand it takes two teams playing a game to take the money from the fans.

6:10 PM

7:35 PM  

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