Making baseball better than Buster Olney thinks it can be

Buster Olney’s recommendations for Nine Ways to Make Baseball Better includes some good ideas, some meh ideas and a couple of really bad ideas.

Here’s a a rundown of his suggestions, with some commentary for each.

1. Reduce the games to seven innings. — And, I presume this would be accompanied by a 22 percent reduction in ticket prices, to correspond to the 22 percent reduction in innnings? Yeah, I thought not. No. This is a bad idea based on a faulty premise. Games are not too long. The season is too long. Cut the season to 150 games to keep the World Series out of October (and play World Series weekend games during the day). But alter the entire statistical universe of the game because of supposed shorter attention spans? Again, no. It amazes me that people who claim to love the game are constantly beating the drum for less of it.

2. Two scheduled single-admission doubleheaders for each team during the course of a season. A lot of baseball fans have memories built on attending doubleheaders. — I wouldn’t object to this, but actually, not that many fans today have memories of doubleheaders. Regularly scheduled doubleheaders haven’t been a feature since the 1960s, and were almost entirely gone by the 1970s. I’m in my 50s, and they were not part of my growing up in the game. So yeah, some guys in their 70s fondly remember toasting through 18 innings at old Comiskey Park. A bizarre suggestion from somebody who wants to SHORTEN games.

3.  Attach one item from the concession stands — hot dog, soda, something — to each ticket. — Lots of teams do this already. No harm in spreading it around, but I doubt fans are demanding it. If they were, it would already be here.

4. As part of the effort to speed up the game, do something to reduce the growing number of relievers employed in each game, whether it’s by limiting the number of pitchers utilized in a given inning, or increasing the minimum number of hitters each reliever must face. — Again, why fundamentally alter the nature of the game when a simpler solution is readily at hand. The manager doesn’t need to go to the mound for a pitching change. Just wave the guy in and let’s go.

5. An idea drawn from an active player to increase the risk for PED-users: a two-tiered penalty system for each offense. A player who tests positive would be subject to an initial 80-game suspension, and then, in the second phase of each case, there would be a review of the case. If a panel formed by the Players Association and MLB determined from the evidence (documents, testimony, etc.) that the player knowingly and intentionally attempted to cheat the system, he would face a lifetime ban. — Maybe, but how this would work in reality is probably something like this: the 25th guy on the roster would be banned for life; Ryan Braun — who richly deserves to banned for life because of his attempt to ruin the life of an innocent man — probably wouldn’t be. Penalties should be swift and evenly imposed. Why introduce what amounts to a random element into the process? Ban everybody on a second offense? Sure. Leave it to a tribunal? No.

6. Instruct the managers of the All-Star Game to play their best position players and to do all within reason to win the game, rather than focusing on getting players a sliver of action. — Yes, especially if they’re going to keep using the game to decide home field for the World Series.

7. A three-man tag team of pitchers should be aligned in the Home Run Derby. For example, Madison Bumgarner in Round 1, and if he won, then Adam Wainwright in Round 2, and if he won, Jake Arrieta in Round 3. — This might be fun. Once, as Joe Piscopo said. Until they combine for two homers. Better to just switch the NL to the DH and stop the charade.

8. A seventh-inning stretch opportunity for all fans at the ballpark: Move to unoccupied seats in the ballpark, presumably closer to the action. — No. Call me crazy, but I think people should get what they pay for.

9. Retire Roberto Clemente’s No. 21 throughout the sport, as Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 is retired, because of what Clemente represents within baseball. — Tempting, but no. Clemente was a great player, but he wasn’t first. And he didn’t do what Robinson did. Find another way to honor him (in fact, MLB has already done this, by rightly naming its award for humanitarianism after Clemente).

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