Ten Other Crazy New Baseball Rules MLB Should Consider
Are baseball’s “temporary” rule changes not enough to satisfy those tiring of the same ol’ National Pastime? See if any of these suggestions will get them back to the ballpark.
We hear it all the time. Baseball is dying. It’s too long. It’s boring. It’s the same rotten game that it was 100 years ago. Wah, wah, wah.
Rob Manfred is listening. Baseball’s commissioner has been trying everything to shorten games, from mound visit quotas to pitch clocks to eliminating the actual four pitches on intentional walks. Beyond that, the COVID-19 pandemic—and the reality of a shortened, tightrope schedule that came with it in 2020, with no margin for error—gave him the opportunity to guinea pig some other ideas that had been on his wish list. Chief among them: Doubleheaders consisting of seven-inning games, the universal designated hitter and, but of course, the automatic runner on second base to start each half-inning past the ninth. Manfred defended these changes as necessary to keep everything on schedule and avoid potential exhaustion from players and traveling secretaries within a tightly contained timeline. But if Manfred gets his way, he’ll keep these rules when the pandemic subsides and everything gets back to normal.
But why stop with Little League twinbills and unearned gift runners on second base? We’ve got some suggestions that will revitalize this old, graying, wrinkled sac of a sport and make American Ninja Warrior look like Lawrence Welk by comparison. So break out the energy drinks and oxygen masks, and see if you’d be into the following 10 rules suggestions.
(Editor’s Note: The following list isn’t a countdown from the worst idea to the best, or the best to the ‘bestest’; they’re all #1 in our eyes. Therefore, we’re listing these alphabetically.)
The Adam Rosales Home Run Trot Rule
On average, a major leaguer takes 22 seconds to circle the bases on a home run. With this new rule, if you don’t complete your celebratory circuit within 17 seconds, your home run doesn’t count. So when you mash, you dash—and the clock’s ticking, so hurry up around the bases, because Commish Robbie’s trying to keep the game moving! Added benefit: This will end egotistical admiration from the hitter, who will no longer have the time to stand and adore. (This rule is a tribute to Adam Rosales, who played from 2008-18 and made a habit of sprinting around the bases whenever he went deep.)
The Designated Fan
It’s frustrating when a manager removes a pitcher with two outs in the fifth—one out away from qualifying for the win. So, to encourage the pitcher to get that last out, a random fan will be asked to come on down and pinch-hit for the scheduled batter. The participatory element will lift sagging attendance; plus, if the pitcher can’t get the fan out, then he’s truly proven to us all that he doesn’t deserve the victory.
Disposable Flammable Gloves
Why do some hitters undo and retighten their batting gloves between every pitch? Here’s a way to stop that. Once the player puts on his gloves, he can only undo the Velcro once—when he takes them off after the at-bat. If he does it a second time, they instantly catch fire—and good luck trying to take them off then. This way, nobody’s going to think twice about a readjustment—and you’ve knocked about 10-15 minutes off the time of game.
Get in Line, Visiting Teams
If you want true home field advantage, all visiting teams cannot have any food or drink in the dugout or clubhouse. If they’re hungry or thirsty, they’ll need to go to a concession stand and get their food. Think of the gauntlet of home fans they’ll have to pass through. Visitors will either be shellshocked by the verbal abuse—which will pump up attendance—or they’ll starve for nine innings. Either way, it’s thumbs-up for the home team!
Since quotas on mound visits don’t appear to be doing the trick to shorten games, managers and pitching coaches now have 12 seconds to sprint out to the mound, get in a brief word with the pitcher—and sprint back. The quicker you race to the mound and race back, the more time you’ll have with your pitcher. Addendum: If you touch the white line during your sprint, that’s two seconds off your next mound visit.
The No-Mercy Rule
Not to be confused with the Mercy Rule that Commissioner Manfred actually considered—you know, the one where they end the game early if a team has too big a lead—the No-Mercy Rule does kind of the opposite. If a visiting team trailing by 10 or more runs enters the ninth and can’t cut down on that lead, the game doesn’t end—because that would be letting it off too easy. Because every team deserves nine innings, the leading (winning) home side gets to bat in the bottom of the ninth—just to add to their opponents’ misery.
Random Pop-Up Monuments
Old Yankee Stadium had three granite monuments in front of the center field wall, in play for outfielders to sometimes navigate around. So why not hide monuments under the field at ballparks and have them randomly pop up, perhaps when an outfielder in pursuit of a fly ball least expects it? It would make watching the game fun while celebrating baseball history all at once!
The Trap Door
Strikeouts have become an epidemic within baseball, but we’ve got the cure to rid of it forever. When a batter swings and misses for strike three, he falls through a trap door and into a mosh pit below full of sweaty, middle-aged autograph seekers. That should incentivize ballplayers to get back to contact-hitting basics.
Throw Quickly—or Face the Music
If pitchers think a time clock is too draconian a measure to make them hurry up and throw, how about this: Every time a hurler takes longer than 15 seconds to throw his pitch, an MLB-sanctioned official in the in-game entertainment booth will force the ballpark sound person—perhaps at gunpoint—to play a sample of a song the pitcher absolutely hates, like say, It’s a Small World. Call it torture, but the solution is simple: Pitch faster, and the silence will be golden. And that’s another 15 minutes shaved off the time of game.
Umpire Shock Therapy
Forget the computerized strike zone; if you really want to encourage umpires to make the right call behind home plate, wire them up with 50,000 volts, and every time they get a pitch wrong, zap! Adding heartlessness, the fans can mock in unison, “Don’t taze me, bro!”