Sunday, August 21, 2016

My Plan To Energize Baeeball: Men on Base when Third Out Is Made on Fly Ball Can Tag, Run for Home; If they Beat the Throw, the Runs Score

Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Mark Twain allegedly said that more than a century ago, and people have been complaining about baseball almost as long.

Well, I'm proposing to do something about improving the game for young fans. The biggest worry in baseball circles is that the game's slow pace is turning off the two youngest generations of Americans. The Wall Street Journal reported in its 8/20/16 edition that 59% of viewers of national baseball broadcasts in 2015 were over 50. Only 36% of the TV audience of NFL telecasts were that age. Baseball is losing the race to capture and hold the interest of younger baseball fans.

I have an idea to speed up the game. I first proposed it to Charlie Finley, baseball's renegade owner in the 1970s after he challenged fans to come up with ideas to improve the game. So I sent him my idea for the "Third Out and Run Rule." Charlie never acknowledged my letter -- maybe because my idea was too radical even for him.

But now, four decades later, baseball needs an infusion of energy to avoid a slow, shriveled decline that mirrors what's happening to its old fan base. Here's the idea:

When the third out is made in a half inning on a fly ball to the outfield or popup anywhere on the field, runners on base can tag after the catch is made and try to make it to home. Their run(s) would count if they can tag or slide into home plate before the catcher either tags them out or touches the plate with his foot after catching the ball thrown to him either on the fly or by relay. The catch-and-step play would be preferred to avoid injuries.


Scenario 1 under existing baseball rules: Two outs in the bottom of the 9th, the home team San Francisco Giants have the bases loaded trailing by two runs. The field, of course, is expansive AT&T Park with its Triples Alley wall 421 feet from home plate at its deepest point.  Every fan is up and shouting as Buster Posey connects with "a high drive to center field" in Duane Kuiper's call. The runners take off at the crack of Posey's bat. If no catch is made, the Giants likely tie the game but might even win if the runner at first can make it home. But the catch IS made, the stadium deflates, game over and fans go home disappointed, and the Giants get no payoff for having loaded the bases. It's just another fly out to end an inning or, in this case, the game. There's no drama whatsoever in this routine play.

Scenario 2 under my Third Out and Run Rule: Instead of running when Posey connects, the runners hold at their bags and tag up when the catch is made. Posey is out, but the runner at third makes it home easily after the catch, and the runner coming from second has rounded third by the time the shortstop relays the throw from shallow center field. The ball is above the mound as the runner begins his slide, then successfully touches home before the catcher can step on the plate with the ball in his glove. Game tied!! The crowd goes crazy!! But if the relay throw is bad and completely misses the catcher, that runner streaking for home all the way from first base might just make it. GIANTS WIN!!!! FANS GO CRAZY!!! BEDLAM!!!!

But not a crazy rule if modernizing and infusing the game with energy is the goal. My rule could come into play several times a game -- and every time the inning's third out is recorded in the outfield with a runner on third. Every such catch made in shallow or middle outfield would produce a close play at the plate to finally retire the side.

Will today's Titans of baseball be more receptive to change  than Charlie Finley was in the early '70s -- especially if it might just save the game from fading away? With the rule now posted and linkable on the Internet, let's see if it has a chance. 

I kinda think Mark Twain would approve.

Sent from my

No comments:

Post a Comment