- Play ball April 9
The other day, Buster Olney wrote about an anonymous "high-ranking executive" who suggested baseball games should last just seven innings.
For traditionalists, this is pure heresy. Baseball is largely about numbers and statistics, and such a fundamental change would render future comparisons moot. Besides, if the problem is simply that games last too long, there are much less radical rules changes that would solve the problem.
But, of course, there is a larger problem. In recent decades, America's bucolic pastime has had its cultural importance usurped by football. There are many reasons for this (see George Carlin's famous comparison), but I would suggest that one big reason for this is that almost every NFL game matters, while it's hard to argue any random baseball game in April is consequential. Switching to seven innings does nothing to address that.
For busy 21st century adults, a surfeit of games creates a parodox: Too many games to care about leads many of us to watch zero — at least, until the heat of the pennant race or the playoffs. (Conversely, tell Americans they have just three hours on a Sunday afternoon to watch the Redskins play the Cowboys, and watch the economic principle of scarcity kick in.)
So here's my radical suggestion, which would also infuriate traditionalists and render the stats meaningless: Play just 60 or so games a season. By cutting the number of games by about two thirds, each game would be about three times as meaningful. It would also be a manageable number of games for fans to commit to caring about.
Basically, here's how it would work: The Yankees roll into Baltimore for a three or four-game set. They would play Thursday and/or Friday and Saturday nights — and then a Sunday afternoon rubber game. Then take a couple days off. In this scenario, every game (especially against division rivals) would be vitally important. What is more, the crowd enthusiasm — the full stands and the roar of the crowd — would make viewing it on TV more exciting — like a World Series game (or a regular season NFL game).
This, of course, will never happen. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't.- -
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