After a long-awaited arrival, football has finally returned. But unlike baseball, I hear no one complaining about how long the games take. Unsurprisingly, no one has argued that the play clock is too long, and furthermore there hasn’t been a campaign to make football fun again. That’s simply because football is fun. People generally want more football. People do not want more baseball.
Sports are about entertainment and right now, baseball is not entertaining. People use Opening Day as an excuse to celebrate the coming of summer, not the coming of baseball. Unfortunately, lessening the time between pitches will not improve anything.
The real problem lies within the talent on rosters. Sure, there are as many elite players on rosters now, but there is not talent to last 162 games. That is not a slight against players; it’s just a fact that players need rest. High-level athletes need relaxation in order to perform their best. However, when players rest, subpar replacements attempt to emulate these stars and frankly, no one wants to watch a backup.
When the San Antonio Spurs attempt to rest their ever-aging roster, they catch hell from fans and management because the NBA is about putting the best product possible on the floor. Baseball apparently doesn’t care about that. Instead, they are content with trotting out some washed up arm to eat some innings every fifth day, and when he pitches, it’s no longer about winning the game. It’s about not losing it.
Many people are still in denial. They think baseball is exactly what it used to be. But it’s not, and in order to make baseball fun again, several things need to happen, beginning with the season length. I advocate for cutting it in half. That way, every game truly matters.
Interspersing days of rest in between games will allow elite players to play at an elite level. Imagine a Verlander, Fulmer, Zimmerman rotation for the Detroit Tigers, each on adequate rest. Imagine sending out a shut-down closer for 4-out, 5-out and even 6-out saves, still on adequate rest. Every inning where we are spared from watching a long reliever, or the fifth starter, the game improves. The quality improves, the intensity improves and therefore the viewing experience improves.
Next, there needs to be consistent rules throughout the game. That means no designated hitter. I don’t even have to explain this at all, and quite honestly it’s the strangest rule in sports.
Baseball needs a change, but where do we point the blame? Everywhere. Everyone involved in baseball deserves some share of the blame. How has baseball not adapted to use four-man outfields against fly ball hitters, five-man infields against ground ball hitters? How come managers can’t insert their closer whenever they are in trouble, instead of the ninth inning. Because that’s outrageous? So was a shotgun offense. So was a three-point line. But no, the only change baseball has given us is the DH and moderate shifting. Baseball, it’s time to admit your deficiencies and seek help for the sake of fans everywhere.