Top 10 Ways to Improve Baseball
Before beer prices at stadiums got out of hand, and calling into question the virtue of the left-fielder’s mother became frowned upon, you could at times find one of us in the stands at a baseball game (perhaps, during its heyday here when the Blue Jays earned back to back World Series victories. The greatest Jay of all time, the ass and karate kicking George Bell, is pictured below).
These days, we hardly ever attend sporting events that aren’t dog-track related, but our memories of baseball, fading as they are due to the brain-shrinking effects of alcohol give us what we feel is the ideal perspective from which to point exactly what is wrong with the sport. It has been said by some observers of the game that baseball is duller than a thrift-store knife, while others have said “Zzzzz…” having already been put to sleep by a game. Being the altruistic sorts we are we’ve decided to share our views on how baseball can be fixed (literally, not in the Olympic boxing, Italian soccer and NBA sense of the term). These can even be implemented before the fat kid from Two and a Half Men or whoever, tosses out the first pitch of the World Series. Here they are: (and R.I.P. to the late, great George Carlin)
1) Put the Manager in Civilian Clothes; Undoubtedly one of the most embarrassing things in all of sport is the fact that the baseball manager must wear his team’s uniform. No other sport has this convention. NBA coaches are not forced to put on the long shorts and muscle shirts, exposing their bleach-white legs and spindly arms. NHL coaches put on cheap suits instead of donning the team’s gear and doing pirouettes at center ice. Soccer coaches wear Canali and smoke on the sidelines. To each their own, we say, but this has got to stop.
The manager in baseball presumably arrives at the stadium in casual wear before pulling a uniform out of a locker and putting it on. How mentally wounding must this be? He does nothing athletic whatsoever during the course of a game, no snagging of foul balls or tossing out warm-up pitches. He looks as if he’s a few steps away from dropping dead when he jogs out to the mound to consult with the pitcher (another bone of contention, but we’ll get to that). For his sake and ours, put the guy in a pith helmet or chinos if you have to, but please keep the uniforms for the players.
2. The Manager Should not be Allowed onto the Field to Interrupt Play.
Why does the manager have to step onto the field? I know he’s wearing the team uniform, so perhaps he feels a sense of obligation, but the last time he circled the bases was during the Johnson administration. You never see an NBA coach step out onto the court, tap O’Neal on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey Shaq, it’s time to sit out a few plays and by the way, my kids didn’t really care for ‘Kazaam‘. .. This is thoroughly unacceptable. A guy sporting ‘office casual’ never wanders out into the middle of a rugby scrum and you don’t have MMA cornermen yelling instructions over the shoulder of the referee about how best to knee an opponent in the noggin.
3) Prevent the Catcher from Ambling out to the Mound: Baseball is criticized for its stop and go nature and there is no surer culprit of this than the pitcher breaking play to consult with the catcher. First what qualifies the catcher — a plug who usually runs like a tortoise because his knees are shot — to offer advice on pitching. But yet when a pitcher wants to break play, up rises the catcher, a Yoda of baseball, who will balance your Chi and upset our opponent’s universe. This guy, who was a glorified bucket only a moment ago, is now expected to be able to dispense invaluable advice. “Throw him a slider Hank. He looks like a slider kind of guy. Just whip that ole’ slider in there and that’ll be the end of him.” Unless he Googles scouting reports from the backstop, he should stay there. If the catcher absolutely has to offer advice to the pitcher, it should be of an entirely personal nature. “Frank, you’re a lousy father, and your wife is an extremely shallow individual. Your invitation to dinner with you and your noxious brood has filled me with dread.” The pitcher, thus chastened, would take the mound with a new found focus. This might foul up his game, but he might become a better member of society, and isn’t that what we’re all after?
4) No Warm-up Pitching on the Field: The pitcher should not be allowed to warm up while a game is in progress. He’s a professional. He’s been throwing in the bullpen. You should be able to pull this guy out of a buffet lineup and have him deliver the goods. But as it is this multimillionaire prince is allowed to break the action of a game to go out and toss the old apple with the catcher like he’s at the Jersey shore?
5). No Interrupting Play for the Guy in the Bullpen to Run across the Entire Expanse of the Field. Why do 50,000 people have to sit stupefied while a guy in a puffy jacket who looks like someone who is currently breaking into your car, leisurely saunters onto the field? That is extremely irritating. He’s not some Grand Marshall of a ticker-tape parade. During the last at bat, the relief pitcher can gradually meander his way along the sidelines. He can throw a few balls into the crowd, doff his cap, refute suggestions about his aunt’s army boots, playfully rub the chemo kid’s bald head for luck and then join the field of play.
6) Eliminate ‘Saves’. You’re not saving anything. Saving is a coupon for 25% off a case of Schlitz. A relief pitcher earning a save is basically rewarded for not f*cking up someone else’s hard work. ‘Staying the course’, or ‘Status Quo’ could be acceptable substitutes. ‘Hey Billy, so how many ‘SQs’ do you think Foulke will get this year?’
7) Whip pitchers for wild pitches; Pitchers make millions of dollars, so they should be so highly skilled that a wild pitch would be unthinkable. Yet they regularly loose pitches that would be embarrassing coming from Uncle Luke’s rubber arm during a summer barbecue bender. Thus, we humbly propose a lashing for any pitcher who throws a wild pitch. The umpire should be the one to administer the lashing. In our view, once a wild pitch is thrown, the umpire should run out to the mound and administer the whipping. Baseball would see a premium put on accuracy after that.
8) Cut Down on the Number of Coaches. Often small market teams have a hard time competing and what better way to remedy this (other than jacking up the price of peanuts to $18 dollars per bag) than to consolidate a few redundant positions? There is nearly one coach for every position.
First base coach can coach first and third, depending on where a runner happens to be. Bullpen coaches can be replaced by pitching coaches, because relievers are just guys who aren’t good enough to start. There’s even a catcher’s coach, even though that position can often easily be replaced with wire mesh. And what about a bench coach, whose responsibilities include helping to set up the day’s practice and stretching routines before a game? Soccer players can easily shed 20 pounds in a typical game. They need to stretch. Baseball players will generally not have to reach for anything beyond sunscreen. Babe Ruth frequently played drunk. Basically what we’re saying is that pre-game and practice rituals differ.
9) Make Fields the Same Size and Configuration: When NBA teams visit, say, the Arco Arena, they don’t have to adjust to a hard court that is the width of 3 bowling lanes or slicked with Vaseline. Boxing matches aren’t occasionally staged in an isosceles triangle ring. You don’t see a hockey rink where boards behind a net are replaced by exposed brick and clematis vines.
10) Make Shirts and Shorts Mandatory: Loud pin stripes are only acceptable if you’re an heir to the Al Capone family bootlegging fortune, or play stand up bass in a Disney swing band. Shorts and shirts are universally worn in summer sports (we’re not including cricket here, as that’s simply one base-quadruple-header baseball with tea and no gloves) and such garb will appeal to an increasingly important female demographic, not to mention cajole players into getting in better shape physically.
LET’S PLAY BALL!