After fifteen exciting and enjoyable years, I have come to the realization that I am no longer in love with Major League Baseball.Â A little over a week ago, Francisco Liriano was in the midst of throwing a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox and I, fully conscious of this possible achievement, couldnâ€™t have cared less.
I wasnâ€™t busy.Â I wasnâ€™t tired.Â I was completely and utterly disinterested.
Four days later when Justin Verlander was throwing a no-hitter I had the same reaction.
I donâ€™t know what happened, but nothing sparked for me.Â Donâ€™t get me wrong I still love baseball, Iâ€™m just not in love with baseball.
aybe itâ€™s because this game seems different from the PED enhanced one I grew up watching. Maybe my attention span has just disintegrated with the advancements in technology.Â Or maybe itâ€™s just because the team I root for hasnâ€™t won a World Series in over 100 years.Â I just donâ€™t know.
I do know that this is game I have loved since my very first visit to Wrigley Field when I was five.Â A game Iâ€™ve loved through many a losing season and crushing playoff exit. And we have been through too much for me to just dump it without trying to work things out.
Now Iâ€™m way to lazy to go through a divorce, so like many weathered couples experiencing difficulties, Baseball and I are in counseling.Â I realize that if a tight-nit, morally strong family like the Gosselins, from Jon & Kate Plus 8, canâ€™t make it through couples counseling then we may be a lost cause, but I have to try.
To jump-start the therapeutic process Iâ€™ve come up with five things that baseball could try to help fix our relationship, and itâ€™s relationship with many other Americans.Â The ideas range from creative and realistic to drastic and unethical.
This is as basic of a solution as it gets.Â The cost to attend a baseball game has been rising at a rate only comparable to gas prices.Â To start nice lower deck seats will set you back from $50-$100 per seat, so if you want to bring the family then you are already looking in the $200 range.Â Throw in a few $8 beers, a couple $4 hot dogs, a $20 T-shirt, and you have just left a decent flat-screen TV at the ballpark.
Unfortunately, baseball fans donâ€™t earn as much as the players and multiple trips to games donâ€™t fit into most families financial plans.Â In ballparks all over the country, outfield seats are ghost towns and upper deck seating solely consist of bored vendors.
Cut the ticket prices, get more people in the park, and make profits off of food and souvenirs.Â Itâ€™s embarrassing looking at empty seats in highlights every night and having no one sitting behind the backstop during nationally televised games.Â Cheaper tickets will give teams the opportunity to gain fans at a time where Americaâ€™s pastime is struggling.
2. â€“ Add two wild card teams & shorten the season
The best part about being a fan is the day all your commitment pays off and your team wins a championship.Â Now unfortunately this does not happen very often, but the flicker of hope that making the playoffs fans keeps us going.
In the NBA and NHL 16 teams make the playoffs, with 2 or 3 teams just missing out.Â Â More than half of the fan bases in those leagues are committed for the full season.
In the MLB 8 teams make the playoffs, with maybe 1 or 2 teams just missing out.Â More than half the of the fan bases know they are out by late July.Â In the National League itâ€™s the top team from each division and one wild card.Â In the American itâ€™s the top team from each division except the AL East, who gets two.
The reason a team like the Cubs hasnâ€™t won a series in 100 years is because their opportunities are slim.Â By the all-star break a handful of fans are only attending home games because it is an interesting place to get drunk, instead of just going to a bar.
I know that baseball is Americaâ€™s pastime and it is filled with tradition but it needs to change. Adding two wild card teams and giving byes to the top seed in each league would liven up the regular season, the playoffs, and possible Joe Buck.Â Teams in the American League would no longer have to worry about the bye automatically going to the AL East and more playoff races would be created, spiking viewership.
Itâ€™s an idea that has gotten some press recently, but with baseball this may take a long time.Â The MLB was about 10 years late to the video review party and they still donâ€™t even have a good system.
To be honest, I would be happy if they changed to the NBA/NHL system of 16 playoff teams.Â The playoffs are one of the greatest treats for a sports fan, making every night exciting, and the MLB doesnâ€™t take advantage of that.
3. â€“ Insert a 15-20 second pitch clock
In the last 10 years it seems like baseball games have begun to take about an hour longer than they used to.Â It may be the shrinking attention span of the country but it feels like the pitcher and batter are taking their sweet time.
Pitchers donâ€™t need to breathe and set for 30 seconds on the mound for every pitch and batters donâ€™t need take five practice swings between each pitch.Â Reaching a full count now means that itâ€™s been a five-minute at bat and anyone watching is now staring at his or her phone or computer.
The shot clock brought excitement way up in NBA games and I believe it could do the same in Major League Baseball.Â Add a 15-20 second pitch clock, a batter gets one opportunity to step out of the box per at bat (barring a past ball, steal, and etc.), and if the pitcher violates the clock then itâ€™s an automatic ball.
This is a long shot due to the fact that the MLB loves every minute that a game goes longer because they are making money.Â (I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if Commissioner Bud Selig had pitchers take longer so team t-shirt sales would go up.).Â All that would need to happen is every team puts a little shot clock behind/around the backstop.
I just want to watch a baseball game without feeling like I just dedicated an entire day to it.
4. – Allow corked bats or performance enhancing drugs
This is by far the most unethical idea and enhancing a batters chance of getting a hit is something the league will never touch because it tarnishes all the records in the history books butâ€¦ I donâ€™t care.
Drugs are bad, I know, but home runs are awesome.Â The 1998 home run race between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa was one of my fondest memories as a child.Â Home run records are like crack to us.Â Every night ESPN would break to a random game to see if this was the at bat Barry Bonds or Big Mac set a new record.
Now, over ten years later, home runs are down. Way down.Â Itâ€™s a pitcher-dominated league where no-hitters are coming by the half dozen.Â America loves excitement and pitching duels, are great but not exciting.
Iâ€™m not saying that players should be promoted to take steroids, just that they should stop testing for it anymore.Â Just make all the records broken from here on out have an asterisk by them.Â If the MLB doesnâ€™t tell the public they stopped testing they will think itâ€™s clean baseball still.
Thinking of making roids legal is ridiculous so thatâ€™s why I also came up with letting players use corked bats.Â They use them in batting practice and I donâ€™t think anyone would have a meltdown if they were used in games.Â Again, just use an asterisk with any broken records.Â The fans in the outfield need home runs, this sport needs home runs, and America needs home runs.
No-hitters are an amazing feat but during this season there has nearly been a â€œno-hitter alertâ€ every week.Â Each team has a pitcher taking a no hitter into the 7th inning and it is starting to weaken the achievement.
5. â€“ Insert a Relegation system
This is about as impossible as an idea is but it would improve this sport immensely.Â A relegation system is a system where a certain number of the worst teams in a league get demoted to a worse league while the top three teams from that league get promoted back up.
This system is famously used in English Soccer, with the Premier League relegating its worst three teams to the Coca-cola league.
This system is great because it doesnâ€™t let organizations put together a terrible cheap team that allows them to still make money while losing.Â Teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates would actually have to try to win so they donâ€™t get relegated.Â Fan bases everywhere would appreciate this system.
The problem is where does the MLB relegate to?Â They couldnâ€™t relegate to and promote from triple-A because all those teams are just affiliates of big league teams.Â Plus with the differences in stadium sizes and fan bases relegating a big market could really hurt the league.
The system would purely benefit the fans and would cost Major League Baseball a great deal of money but wouldnâ€™t it be nice to see the Pittsburgh Pirates contend?
I like to think that there will be some great changes to baseball in the neat future, but I know the sport is as stubborn as the old purists who run it.Â If it doesnâ€™t change though, this country and myself may never love it again.