Baseball has spent much of the past decade looking for ways to speed up games, increase attendance, and attract a younger viewership. They’ve implemented changes like limiting mound visits, installing pitch clocks, and utilizing instant replay. But with each little change, few of the desired outcomes have been achieved. Games haven’t sped up all that much, attendance is about the same, and younger viewers are still gravitating towards other sports, like basketball and soccer.
So what’s baseball to do? They need help, and they need it fast. That’s why we’re here with some new ideas that will rock the boat and disrupt an entire industry. Some of these ideas are really stupid and mostly just serve as vehicles for throwaway jokes that the world would otherwise never read. But within the inanity there may be a gem or two. And before you ask, yes, alcohol was involved when this was written.
1. An expanded strike zone for pitchers who throw under 90 MPH
It seems like every big league pitcher throws his fastball 95-plus these days. Sure, velocity is fun to watch, but is it really fair to those guys who rely on finesse and savvy to get by? No, it is not.
One way to speed up games faster than a cap on mound visits is by expanding the strike zone. So let’s do that. But only for pitchers who top out at 90 MPH or less.
Now, I’m not talking an expansion of a half-inch here or there; I want serious square footage. Let’s give these noodle arms a Little League strike zone to work with. You know what I’m talking about. A vast landscape that starts at the neck and goes to the ankles, that has an inside corner at the tip of the penis and an outside corner halfway down the baseline. The kind of insurmountable mass that really screwed you over as a kid, when you got caught looking on a pitch that grazed the bill of your helmet and found its way to the backstop. Or that other time, when your 30-inch Bombat wasn’t lengthy enough to extend into the other batter’s box and foul off a ball in the dirt that the catcher had to dive for. That strike zone was a real bitch. And now it’s time we brought it to the highest level of the game.
I want to see Giancarlo Stanton get rung up on a 60 MPH curveball and start sobbing like a 12-year-old from Chinese Taipei who just got his ass evicted from Williamsport. We need Mike Trout to get tossed from a game on a 79 MPH heater that hums in at the shins. But most importantly, we need to give the junkballers a fighting chance. Pinpoint control can be a thing of the past. Anyone can rack up a dozen Ks, and your closer need not be a flamethrower. Equal opportunity for all!
2. In-stadium betting
The Supreme Court just reached a landmark decision that allows each individual state to set its own rules on sports betting. This means sports betting will soon be running rampant across the entire nation, so what better time to get in on the ground floor with these new gambling laws than right now.
Baseball can become the first sport to not only welcome sports betting, but install it right inside stadiums. That’s right, in this little utopia you can take a whiz, grab a beer, snag a hot dog, and place a wager on your club right in the concourse of your favorite ballpark. Who wouldn’t love that?
And let’s not stop with the simple stuff. Have you heard of progressive betting? Progressive betting lets you bet on the action as it changes throughout the course of a contest. So when the Mariners are up four runs in the eighth and Juan Nicasio comes trotting in from the bullpen, you know you can still get great odds on the opponent.
Baseball has been shoving “family friendly” down our throats for years. Let’s throw the adults a bone here. In-stadium betting for everyone!
No one likes stadium beverage prices. It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking beer or soda or just want a water. You’re paying way too much to hydrate when you go to a game, and it isn’t right.
At NASCAR events, fans are allowed to bring a cooler full of libations into the venue. Why do you think so many people are willing to watch a bunch of cars turn left for hours on end? Because they can sit outside and drink for free, that’s why.
This policy needs to be brought to Major League Baseball. If you want more butts in the seats, all you have to do is cut back on one of the main barriers between sitting on the couch and sitting in the stands: cost. Plus, ballparks can reduce drink selection with attendees allowed the freedom to provide their own beverages of choice. No more buying kegs of craft beer or stocking fridges with caffeine-free Diet Dr. Pepper. More ticket revenue, less overhead, a win-win for all.
4. Uniform upgrades
Kids like stupid shit. They see the highlighter yellow jerseys that college teams like Oregon and Baylor wear and they lose their minds with excitement. They react to gaudy neon outfits the way we once reacted to finding a JPEG of our favorite celebrity naked online. A new uniform scheme is to them what a 10-minute download of a single pixelated image was to us. It’s a different era, what can you say.
As times change, we must adapt. And nothing has adapted slower than the baseball uniform.
Isn’t it a little weird that baseball players still strive to dress the way their ancestors did back in the 1800s? You look at pictures of the very first big leaguers and their attire is hardly different than it is now. Yes, the fabrics have evolved, the hats have gotten a bit bigger, and the pant legs now reach the shoe tops. But beyond that, the overall look is distinctly ancient.
If you want to get more kids involved, loosen the uniform restrictions. Major leaguers wear leather belts, for god’s sake. What kind of kid who isn’t a future narc wants to sport a leather belt? The garb needs to be desirable to the youth of America, and it’s far from that right now. Change the look and attract more youngsters.
5. Bring in the fences
Remember the Nineties? What a time to be alive, am I right? It seemed like every athlete was on steroids and baseballs were flying out of stadiums at a record clip. Even the worst hitters were crushing 20 dongs a year, and the best ones were fighting to see how many offensive records could be broken. The shit got so egregious that we actually got tired of it. We got tired of home runs. And as a result, we decided that performance-enhancing drugs were really, really bad.
We more or less did away with the juice that fueled these bomb-dropping behemoths and the game went back to its boring normalcy. No longer did we have a bacne’d Mark McGwire battling a fully-pigmented Sammy Sosa in the home run race of a lifetime. It was quite sad, in a way. We even went so far as to vilify the guys who brought us so much enjoyment. It was weird and uncomfortable and still exists as a divisive issue today.
Advocating for the reinstitution of very dangerous drugs would be a terrible idea, so I would NEVER do that… but if we’re going to expand the strike zone for pitchers, as suggested above, we need to help the batters out a bit, too. That’s why I suggest bringing in the fences at every ballpark. That’s right, more dingers for everybody.
Remember that one year Baltimore Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson unleashed an astounding 50 home runs? That was a great year! Sure, Anderson went from looking like a cross country runner to more closely resembling a sideburned Monstar in just one offseason, but he also got to guest star on an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch with Melissa Joan Hart, so it was worth it. We need to reach into our past and bring that thrill back — but without a needle this time. We can do it. And it starts by bringing in those fences.
6. General admission games
Millennials. Fuck those guys, right? You’re either wasting money trying to attract these apathetic losers, or you’re in complete denial that you’re actually a part of this loathsome group of individuals. Either way, no one likes these assholes, and yet we all agree that in some way or another they exist and we need to exploit them.
Millennials hate commitment. It’s why they land new jobs every two years, why they relocate all the time, why they avoid relationships, and why they all respond “Maybe” to Facebook invites — if they respond at all. This is a real issue. How do you get an entire generation to commit to buying a ticket to a baseball game when they can’t even commit to their friends?
One way to combat the noncommittal attitude is to stop forcing these people into something like a seat, for instance. Game times can’t be conditional and ticket prices can only change so much, but seats can be controlled to some degree. So here’s a suggestion: general admission games.
A couple times a year, hold games where every ticket is a flat rate and all seats are general admission. Fans can sit (or stand) wherever they like. Save some money by giving most of the ushers a night off and attract more fans than you’d otherwise bring in on, say, a Tuesday night by offering the great seats for the same price as the bad ones. A younger demographic can see the game from the vantage point of the blue bloods and everyone, from all walks of life, can experience and enjoy baseball up close. It’s silly, sure, but it just might work.