Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Plan To Improve Baseball Gets an Airing on National Sports Talk Radio; Host Liked Idea, Suggests another Call on February 19th

SACRAMENTO, CA (Feb. 12, 2017) -- Driving to Safeway this afternoon and listening to the Jody McDonald Show on CBS Sports Radio, I turned up the volume when he invited caller comments on MLB's idea to speed up games by putting a man on second base at the start of each half inning in extra innings to increase chances a run would score. I called, got through and pitched my idea, which is detailed (up to a point) in the post immediately below.

Quick review: My idea would make baseball more exciting by increasing scoring and improving defense at the same time. With men on base and two outs, a fly ball that's caught in the outfield under current rules ends the batting team's scoring threat by ending the inning. No drama. My rule would allow a runner on third to tag and try to score once the fly ball is caught. To prevent that from happening, the outfielder would have to throw him out at home. To avoid injurious collisions at the plate, the catcher would only have to step on home with the ball in his glove -- just like the first baseman records outs there.

I had only thought my rule through to the point that the throw would go to home. After about a minute of me explaining my new rule, Jody stopped me and said (paraphrasing), "Once the outfielder catches the ball, where does he throw it?" After a pause, I said "Home." And that energized him to ask "Why home?" Why not, he suggested, to the runner's next base? For example, with men on first and third and a deep fly ball to the right fielder with two outs, why couldn't the fielder throw to second instead of home? He was suggesting that a throw to second that beats the throw would end the inning and negate whatever happened at home when the man on third ran there after the catch. I.E., a fast runner on third could presumably easily beat the throw from the outfield, but a slow runner on first (think catcher) could more easily be thrown out at second than a fast runner heading for home. For one thing, it's a shorter throw.

A Better Idea

Jody asked a great question! I've been pushing this idea (not aggressively I admit) just to get some kind of positive response without thinking through nuances of the proposed "run on third out" rule. I never had focused on anything more than getting the ball to home to prevent the run from scoring from third or even second on a deep fly ball. But it would make sense and increase the potential for crucial plays at one base or another if the defenders had options on which bases to throw to. 

Jody set up this scenario: Man on second, two outs, fly ball to deep right near the foul pole that is caught. With the option of throwing to any base AHEAD OF THE RUNNER, the fielder might choose to throw home instead of to third, which -- if my geometry is correct -- probably is a longer throw than a throw to home for balls hit down the line and caught. So under this modification, the fielder would have the option of throwing to any base ahead of any runner to end the inning.

Another scenario: Dodgers-Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Top of the 9th, Dodgers trail by one run but have the bases loaded with two outs. Batter hits a fly ball to Triple's Alley that is caught. All runners tag and head to the base in front of them. Everybody is on their feet, cheering wildly because they know what's coming -- a throw to second base to get the man at first advancing on the catch. With baseball's current rule, game over, Giants win. But with my rule in place, the outcome hangs on what happens with the Giants center fielder's throw. If it beats the sliding runner (no tag necessary...just the receiving player's foot on the bag), game over, Giants win. But if the runner gets to the bag before the throw, game tied, Giants coming to bat.

Excitement City

Imagine this happening several times a game! The Wow Factor would be huge; excitement would build with numerous scenarios. Instead of innings ending predictably and unexcitedly with fly balls to the outfield even with a man on third, nothing would be decided until the ball is returned to the infield  -- to one base or another.
 Another positive: Outfielders with cannons for arms would be HUGE. This proposal ramps up excitement by increasing scoring opportunities while simultaneously improving defense.

I got a national radio audience to hear the bare bones of this  proposed rule today, and depending on how this proceeds, maybe more will hear it next week. I'm searching now for a way to email Jody and/or CBS Sports Radio. Stay tuned. Literally, stay tuned.

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