Out of the four major sports, the MLB is facing a serious problem. The viewership of baseball is at an all-time low and fewer and fewer children are playing the game.
These factors can ultimately hurt the sport in the short term as well as the future. Ratings will continue to decline, and fewer people will be watching if things remain the same. Below are just a few suggestions that can make the sport a little more watchable and ways to regain it’s former status.
The regular season is way too long. A 162 game season is too repetitive, and the product becomes diluted. Major League Baseball should be thinking- Less is More.
You certainly cannot follow the 16 game NFL schedule. The NBA and NHL both have 82 games, which is a little too small of an amount but it’s on the right track. If you take the games from 162 to around 110-120 games, you lessen the dilution but have a product where the owners will still get their cash.
However, I do not see this on the horizon anytime soon. I personally would like to see around 100 games, but you know, baby steps.
Not only is the season too long, but the games themselves are too long. A regular season game should not last 3 hours. Baseball is a unique sport where there is no clock to designate the completion of the game. You play nine innings, and at the end, you determine the winner. If it is tied, you keep playing until a winner is named. The game can go on for what seems like a lifetime and people do not have that kind of time in their days to sit and watch an entire baseball game from beginning to end. The die-hard fans will still watch it in its entirety, but the casual fan will quickly lose interest. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has acknowledged that the game must be shorter. This a huge step in the right direction, but what exactly needs to be added?
The MLB has introduced a 20-second pitch clock that as been used in the minor leagues over the past few seasons and it has shortened the length of games. I see this new pitch clock being implemented in the majors within the next 2-4 years, and honestly, it needs to get here sooner rather than later. Pitchers do not need to take their time to walk around the mound, play with the rosin bag, pick their nose and wonder what they are having for dinner that night. Make a pitch, get the ball again, and within 20 seconds pitch again, it’s that simple.
In the past few years, the MLB has included an element of replay. Managers can challenge the call on the field if a runner is out or safe, and they can challenge if a homerun was indeed a homerun. However, there are no “guidelines” to the replay rule.
By guidelines, I mean that a manager can challenge if the runner on first is safe in the 7th inning of a game in May and the score is 7-2. It’s completely meaningless and a waste of time. Replay was designed to correct an obvious missed call, not to see if the runners first set of spikes on his cleats beats the ball to the glove if the fielder. Challenge only if the play is a significant impact on the game itself.
There should be some regulations to replay. The league has discussed shortening the amount of time that a manager has to challenge a play to 30 seconds. 30 seconds is STILL too long. The way rule is currently set up is that the manager can ask his boys up in the booth to look at the play in question for an unlimited amount of time causing a stop in the game.
There’s no excuse for that. Make the time a manager can challenge a play to 10 seconds. This way there’s a risk factor in challenging. The league also has mentioned shortening the length of time of the review itself. Normally the review can take quite a length of time to see whether or not the call was correct. The MLB wants to address this and it will make sure that time will not be wasted looking at an obvious call for 5 extra minutes.
This offseason, Major League Baseball has included a new addition to help shorten games. In Rookie League, a runner will be placed on second base with no outs when the game has reached extra innings. The thought is to end the game quicker, and I love it.
I think I speak for everyone when I say I don’t want to see a 20 inning game. When it reaches the 9th inning, I’m ready to go home never mind the 20th. If that means having a runner halfway to home plate in extra innings to speed up to the end of the game you can count me in. (Quick disclaimer, I would not want to see this rule in the postseason, but remember baby steps.)
Major League Baseball must get shorter. With fewer games on the schedule, and under three hour games, the league might start to see its viewership start to rise and bring back the glory that America’s Pastime deserves.