Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Humble Suggestions for the Improvement of the National Pastime

Maybe it's the elimination of the Brewers from the post-season, but for whatever reason I have a sudden urge to re-vamp baseball. I have come up with two innovations that I believe could be the best thing to happen to baseball since mandatory steroid testing.

The first came to me while sitting in a chair at the dentist's office. My attendant (not sure what her exact title would be) informed me that I'd have to wait awhile for x-rays, and she offered me a magazine from the corner of the room. Now, unlike the waiting room proper, which contained the very latest in periodicals, the examination room itself offered the stereotypically dated material. I snagged a Sporting News that originally hit newsstands during spring training. Fortunately, there was some timeless material; I found a particularly interesting article about baseball pitches. While reading this article, I felt a drip of water. It turns out the air conditioning system above me was leaking. Sitting a dentist chair with water dripping on me, my thoughts could have wandered to new and innovative ways for our government to interrogate terrorism suspects. But they didn't. Instead, my thoughts wandered to new and innovative ways for pitchers to get batters out. Well, perhaps "new and innovative" wouldn't be an apt description for my solution, which would involve the legalization of the spitball, a pitch that was banned in 1920. I did some research on the matter, and I found out that Ty Cobb was against the banning of the pitch, saying that the owners "greedily sold out to the home run."

Regardless of how chicks feel about the longball, we've reached a saturation with the level of home runs in the game, and we have a disproportionate emphasis on power hitting. Too high of a percentage of runs being scored are coming via the home run.

The legal spitball would be the great equalizer. It would de-emphasize the home run, and though it wouldn't bring us back to Cobb's dead ball era, it would at least restore the type of baseball being played not too long ago-- an era where every run mattered, where teams tried to move up baserunners by hitting the ball to the opposite field, where teams didn't sit back and wait for home runs. The spitball would also restore the arts of basestealing and bunting to their former glory. And it would open up new jobs for the weary-armed pitcher who can perfect the art of throwing the spitter, which is important given my next proposal.

I submit that the number of major league teams should be doubled. However, rather than find 30 new cities, I propose that each existing city add a new team. I guess you could call it a "B" squad, though I actually envision a parity between all 60 teams. For example, you would have a Milwaukee Brewers which would compete in the National League Central, and a Milwaukee Cheeseheads which would compete in the Federal League Central, along with teams like the Pittsburgh Buccaneers, the St. Louis Browns, and the Chicago Billy Goats.

Here's the thinking: There are 162 games in a season: 81 home and 81 away. For every 81 times the Brewers play on the road, their ballpark sits vacant. Why not plug in a team that would play a parallel schedule, in which they would be home every day that the A-team is on the road, and vice versa? You could even stack it so that, as often as possible, one team would be playing during the day while the other team is playing at night, giving the local fans lots of chances to cheer on local teams. The infrastructure would already be in place for each team, so there wouldn't be an overwhelming amount of expense for this start-up venture. I would envision each owner inheriting the new franchise in each city. This is important because, though profits would decline for each of the existing teams, the overall profits would only increase, and perhaps increase by a lot.

Another advantage of such a set up is that rules could be separated by league. Right now, the DH is split between AL and NL. In the future, it could be split between the A and B Leagues. You could also experiment with a legal spitball in one of the leagues.

Of course, people will argue that talent dilution would be a problem. I'd argue that as long as there is parity, the average fan wouldn't notice a drop off in overall skill level. I'd also argue that if baseball continues to promote itself overseas, there will be in increase in the talent pool. Whatever happens to all those Little League World Series players from the Far East? Let's get them over here and populating the new teams. Finally, a surefire way to bring competitive balance across the board would be to, you guessed it--legalize the spit!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Azor;
Forgive my humble knowledge about baseball. I love the game, but do not get into a lot of the specifics. I agree a B team is a great idea, you should write some of the owners and see what happens. I think the B team for the Brewers though should be the Pretzels; what goes better with a brew than one of those big soft pretzels sold at every ballpark? If you wanted the anti-Brewers angle, how about the Wine-tasters? Sound classy?
Also, it's funny that you wrote about the spitball. I was watching something like Mythbusters, didn't catch the name of it, Saturday night and they were demonstrating how moisture affected the length a baseball would go. There was a machine that batted the ball in the same precise way each time and flags were set up for where each wetness of ball hit, landed. The wettest balls landed the shortest distance, while the dryest balls landed the longest. Taking this into account, wetting the ball seems to be a form of cheating and I'm afraid I'd have to be against that one. What say you? Boo

9:48 AM  
Blogger Azor said...

Well, it wouldn't be cheating if it was declared legal. My thought is that balls are going too far these days.

12:13 AM  

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