The seasons are changing and so might the rules. Enjoy those three-plus hour games while they last baseball fans because this October may be the last time they come around.
Sports fans don’t need to be told that the average age of a die-hard baseball fan is probably older than that of an average basketball fan, but would it surprise you if I said that according to Nielson, the average television baseball viewer is 54?
Some people say that the three hour and eight minute game time average –according to Baseball Prospectus — does not appeal to the fast-paced, stimulation-seeking minds of the younger generation.
I may be the odd-one-out in feeling somewhat nostalgic about 13 inning games, but many other sport loving young adults cringe at the idea of watching baseball on television, but are never absent to watch the high energy pace of basketball and football.
As baseball ratings drop and those of basketball rise, there becomes an added pressure for the MLB to change its policies to limit game time in order to maintain and grow a solid fan base.
In addition, even the high energy sports are making changes to even increase excitement, as it was announced that a preseason Nets versus Celtics game will test out a new 44-minute game, where each quarter will be reduced from 12 to 11 minutes – a change that was suggested by coaches, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Some suggestions for adapting baseball into a more excitement-friendly environment include cutting innings. However, cutting innings would really throw off the entire strategy of baseball. There is a lineup set to account for each and every batter, in specific innings, at different times, and cutting a game by an inning or two would erase the need for the all-important setup man on the mound.
In this world, hypothetically, the starter would throw for six, and the closer would mow down six batters in the seventh and eight? That’s just weird.
Another more interesting and traditionally-appealing idea is to limit the amount of times and length that a manager can make to the mound when not making a pitching change.
In an article written in Newsday by Anthony Rieber, it is suggested that the number of visits be limited to three, and that each be no more than 45 seconds. Well, that sounds reasonable. Another enticing option is arguing a more time-restricted use of instant replay, which has undoubtedly slowed down the game in recent years.
Humbly, I do support these advances to shape the game of baseball to fit the evolving population’s needs in an attempt to keep the game alive by growing a larger viewership. But I do not think changing the game’s overall strategy and integrity is the way to get there.
Basketball is experimenting with a rule change that effects overall strategy and that may be all and well for a sport that is popular, but for a sport as timeless as baseball, I believe it to be an injustice to alter a game which created a budding popularity for the newer sports in our generation.