We’re a little over a week into the new baseball season and one thing is clear, baseball is still painfully boring. The only appeal to baseball is rooting for a local team. It is nice to have something to look forward to every day and because teams plays so often it is easy to get attached to the players. They become more like family than any other local athletes. When the team is good, this is wonderful, but when it is bad, it leads to thoughts of mutilation and murder.
Besides rooting for a favorite team baseball does not have much appeal. It is a slow, methodical game, which is better served as background noise for a summer picnic than an actual sporting event. It might be America’s past time, but based on its youth appeal, baseball will soon be a sport of the past. Is it beyond repair? Can baseball ever be exciting again? If there is one man to provide the solution it is Justice Demetrio.
Case #000000009 Baseball vs Total Fucking Boredom
Let’s skip right ahead to the ruling. For the record, the easy solution would be to bring steroids back into the game. Man was that an exciting time for baseball.
1. Create Two Separate Leagues – Upper and Lower
Let’s borrow from European football leagues by splitting the majors in half based on record and having two separate championships. Every year at least half the league is eliminated from championship contention anyway, let’s just make it official. This way the top teams play each other more often, which leads to more exciting games. And the bottom teams get to play more even competition, which will also lead to more exciting games. The balance and competitiveness of both leagues will lead to more games that actually hold people’s attention. But there is an issue, 30 MLB teams means that splitting it in half would create two 15 team leagues. There cannot be an odd number of teams between leagues that do not play each other. Therefore, I’m going to bet big on my new league taking off and expanding the lower league with two new teams. One team we’ll give to Nashville because it is an underrated sports city and just one of the coolest in the country. The other will go to Las Vegas because there needs to be a professional team in the gambling capital of the country. The expansion teams will go to the lower league, as the game expands globally more talent should be coming to the U.S. and since it will be playing lesser competition it will allow each team more room to grow competitive. Based off last year’s records let’s take a look at what each league would be this year.
1. St. Louis Cardinals 1. LAA Angels
2. Boston Red Sox 2. San Francisco Giants
3. Atlanta Braves 3. San Diego Padres
4. Oakland A’s 4. Colorado Rockies
5. Pittsburgh Pirates 5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Detroit Tigers 6. Toronto Blue Jays
7. LA Dodgers 7. New York Mets
8. Cleveland Indians 8. Philadelphia Phillies
9. Tampa Bay Rays 9. Seattle Mariners
10. Texas Rangers 10. Minnesota Twins
11. Cincinnati Reds 11. Chicago Cubs
12. Washington Nationals 12. Chicago White Sox
13. Kansas City Royals 13. Miami Marlins
14. New York Yankees 14. Houston Astros
15. Baltimore Orioles 15. Nashville Sounds
16. Arizona Diamondbacks 16. Las Vegas Golden Nuggets
2. Relegation System
Once the two leagues are created there needs to be a system that allows teams to move up and fall down between leagues based on performance. How would it work? Let’s use last year’s standings as our example. The bottom two teams in the upper league are automatically relegated to the lower league in the next year, in this case the Orioles and Diamondbacks would be sent down. The top two teams in the lower league would both automatically be sent up to replace them, but not before they competed in a 7-game series to determine the champion of the league. Last year it would have been a rematch of the 2002 World Series, Angels vs Giants.
Relegation is the most exciting aspect of European leagues, but here in America we love our playoffs. This system allows for extra playoff series, which means extra excitement and more ratings. There will be a a traditional best of 7 playoff between the top four teams of the Upper League to determine the World Series Champion. Last year it would’ve been, Cardinals vs A’s and Red Sox vs Braves with the winners moving on to the World Series. However, there will also be two additional playoffs to determine the final two teams to move up and down. In the upper league the next four teams with the worst records will match up in a best of 5 series with the losers being relegated. Last year it would’ve been Reds vs Yankees and Nationals vs Royals. Then in the lower league the next 6 teams will compete for the right to move up. The Padres and Rockies would get a bye to await the winners of Brewers vs Phillies and Mets vs Blue Jays.
This system gives more teams something to play for throughout the year. 10 teams currently make the playoffs and in a good year there are two teams that just miss the playoffs, which means less than half the league has something to play for in September. This system gives at a minimum 18 teams with something play for at the end of the year – four teams in the World Series playoffs, six teams fighting to not get relegated, 6 teams fighting to move up, and two going for the lower league’s championship. And since each league should be more competitive there is a greater chance for all the races to be very tight. This game is already more exciting.
3. Shorten the Season and the Game
The baseball season is far too long. Anyone whom has seen a game in a cold weather city has noticed the dismal attendance. Stadiums aren’t even half filled, some games didn’t even draw a 1,000 people. As bad as the start of the season is, the end is even worse because it corresponds with the start of football season. People care more about pre-season football than post-season baseball. Now that there are only 16 teams in each league we can shorten the season. Each team will every other in their respective leagues six times total. 15 opponents multiplied by six games equals 90 games. This is the perfect length for a season. It can now start in the beginning of May, when the weather has warmed up in most cities, and can end before September when football starts. Then the playoffs are mandated to only take place on Tuesday-Friday, leaving the weekends for football. This schedule also keeps rivalries fresh and adds importance to each game.
As for the games themselves? Way too long, it is the only sport that can last over three hours on a regular basis, which is not something that the sport with the least action should do. Let’s shorten the game to 7 innings. It will help shorten the average length of games by at least 45 minutes and allow dominant starters, on pitch counts, to not have to rely on shaking bullpens to finish off games for them. The shorter games will help make for better TV and get more people to watch.
4. Move to a Point System
The 7-inning games will most likely lead to more ties, but instead of keeping with traditional extra innings rules let’s add the point system. Just like hockey, every win in regulation will be worth two points, but if a team loses in extras it still gets one point. The final standings will be determined by point total, not win-loss record. Run differential will serve as a tie-breaker.
5. Add a Slam-Off for Tie-Breakers
In keeping with borrowing from hockey, let’s put a cap on extra innings at two, or nine innings total. If the game is still tied after two extra innings the two teams move to a Slam-off where it picks three players each and sends its Batting Practice pitcher out to throw. Each player gets one swing and the team that hits more home runs between the three players wins the game. In the event of a tie, each team must keep sending out a new player till the tie is broken. If it is not before the final players on the roster reach the plate, then those last two players keep swinging till someone hits a home run. This could lead to two relief pitchers battling each other to hit a BP fastball out of the park.
Every close baseball game just became must watch television. The Slam-Off would be a more intense version of the Home Run Derby, only it actually affects your team’s place in the standings. Just the image of the home crowd rooting on it’s lefty reliever to hit a home run makes me want to watch a baseball game without feeling the urge to gouge my eyes out.
If/when Bud Selig retires the MLB owners need to look no further than this ruling to realize that Justice Demetrio is the perfect candidate to replace him. That is if they do not want the game to go the way of them and become extinct.