For those of us who love baseball, this is a wonderful time of the year. There are only a handful of Spring training games remaining, and most clubs are about to break camp and head home to play their openers. There is a marvelous sense of anticipation in the air. However, there is absolutely no doubt Major League Baseball has started to lag behind the NFL and the NBA in terms of popularity. Not just 'bums in seats'
statistical popularity, it has lost a foothold in the zeitgeist too. The average Joe Punter on the street just doesn't care as much as days of old.
Some people approach change like Khloe Kardashian approaches a diet. With great trepidation. Change though, can often be good. Change, in the case of MLB, is essential.
The slow paced game our parents and grandparents loved is being outdated faster than Mel Gibson's career imploded. MLB has to change to keep up with today's fast paced, instant results based society.
Here's four ways they can go about that.
Police those jaywalking catchers.
There is already a limit on the amount of times a manager or pitching coach can visit the mound during the game. Why are catchers like Jorge Posada allowed make three to four, sometimes more, visits with the pitcher in mid inning? This would be such a simple change to police. Give them two visits per inning, and that's that. Quick, easy, sensible change.
Put the clamps on the batters.
I have never understood why MLB tolerates some of the completely ridiculous behaviour of players in the batters box. There is simply no reason for this. Players should be allowed step out of the batters box once, and once only, in an at bat. Every time they step out after that should be called a strike. This would speed the game up dramatically. The players have so much time to prepare for an at bat, in the dugout, in the stairwell and then in the on-deck circle too. How on earth can they not be ready to swing the bat after all that? Get them back in the box!!
Nomar: Aka - the human rain delay
Start using a video umpire
. MLB turns over billions of dollars a year, yet they can't afford to have one extra umpire sitting high in the stands, watching the tape of the game and helping the field umpires with calls? The one call we saw take way too much time last season was controversial home run balls. Currently the 'blues' have to comically waddle into the stair well to review the tape, then waddle back out and give the decision. It would be dramatically faster if there was a further official sitting upstairs ready to watch the tape and make the call in a matter of seconds. There is no doubt also that video review is going to filter in for further calls down the road, implementing this addition now would plant the framework for that. Get it done.
Toss those managers faster. Hey, it was fun while it lasted, but umpires and managers, it is no longer interesting to watch you argue, shouting, practically spitting in each others faces. A short, sensible discussion on an issue should be enough for any calls. Why do we have to sit through long, protracted arguements? Why do managers think we want to see that? Ego, much? Toss their crabby old butts immediately. Speed the game up.