Last week, longtime baseball executive Rob Manfred, the Waylon Smithers to Bud Selig’s Mr. Burns, was elected the 10th Commissioner in MLB history. Like any would-be sovereign, Manfred will have to wait to seize the reins of power. Selig isn’t stepping down until January, which gives Manfred five months to toy with ideas for improving America’s pastime.
If he’s looking for suggestions, he won’t have to look far: Plenty of people have shared ideas, from the inane (Tom Verducci’s Bonus At-Bat) to the intriguing (Keith Olbermann’s cheap tickets for adults bringing kids). Not to be left out, we came up with a few suggestions of our own. They are – if we may say so (and we may) – brilliant.
Here are the dictates we want issued by baseball’s littlest big man come January, when he moves into the manuscript archive in Cooperstown, or wherever ruling commissioners live.
Relievers Get Three Warm-Up Pitches: Institute a rule that forbids broadcasts from cutting away during pitching changes and forces hurlers to get on with it after running in from the outfield. Games will still have the interminable breaks between half innings, but fans will be spared a small portion of the never-ending ad onslaught. Everyone can finally admit that it makes no sense that a pitcher who just spent 10 minutes warming up in the bullpen needs to keep warming up. If they’re a little wilder for the lack of time, so be it. We’ll watch that.
Celebrations Are Encouraged: Bat flips, back flips and bubble machines add a little character to game that’s often treated with the gravity of war. More importantly, shenanigans like these get turned into GIFs and spread around the internet. The internet is where young people spend their time and baseball needs more young people. Ergo, if baseball has more shenanigans and more GIFs it will get more young people.
Intentional Walks Are Automatic: If a pitcher wants to put a guy on, just let him put the guy on. Why the charade? We all know how the intentional walk will end: Why must watch each pitch? This is why non-fans change the channel.
Bring the DH to the National League*: The aforementioned Olbermann is one of many old school types who’ve suggested in the past week that Manfred should do away with the designated hitter. They always say something about making the ball players play ball. Here’s the problem with that: Pitchers can’t hit. While making them do so introduces a lot of interesting strategic elements to the game, it also introduces an automatic out and a boring at-bat. Moreover, it often results in pulling a pitcher from a game before he needs to be pulled for a pinch-hitter. Our proposal: Let the pitchers pitch and the hitters hit.
The Batter and the Pitcher Are on the Clock: If there’s one thing most baseball fans can agree on it’s two simple ways to speed up the game: stop allowing batters to step out of the box between pitches and stop allowing pitchers to take a fortnight between pitches. The resulting game play wouldn’t only be faster, preventing four hour games, but it would be more exciting. More pitches in quicker succession means more action in a shorter amount of time. It also means fewer pans of the crowd, waste-of-time promos and forced banter as cameraman and broadcasters try to fill the dead air between pitches. David Ortiz won’t like this change, but pissing off Papi is a risk we’re willing to take.
*This does not apply to Bartolo Colon, who has made not hitting into an artform.
Photos by Drew Hallowell / MLB Photos / Getty Images