The Major League Baseball season is a marathon 162 games. That is great if you love baseball and your team is chasing a division title. But what if the team you support is in the cellar? I am looking in the Miami Marlins’ direction here.
With the MLB season now a month old, give or take a few days, I consider 5 changes that could make the MLB season more interesting for fans to watch.
- End Interleague play
Call me old-fashioned, or just old, but there was a time when National League and American League teams only played other baseball clubs in their league. This made the All-Star Game and the World Series even more exciting.
Fans spent 162 games wondering how teams from one league would fare against teams from the other. The World Series gave baseball fans something unique to look forward to that no other American sports league did.
Interleague play was introduced post-1994 baseball strike to bring fans back to the ballparks. Fans were so angry over the strike they stayed away in droves until Interleague play piqued the interest of some. Now, that baseball is experiencing high levels of fan interest, it is time to do away with Interleague play.
- Go back to two divisions per league
This is another call to the past, but there was something about each league having just two divisions that made the race for the pennant far more interesting. It would also be great if baseball went back to only the top two teams from each division making the playoffs.
By reducing the number of teams that make the playoffs and making it more difficult to reach the postseason, it makes each game mean more. How many baseball games during the season mean very little due to the number of regular season games? Plenty, so let’s make the season mean more with an increase in high stakes games.
- Competitions against other leagues
In soccer, the winners of various domestic leagues in Europe meet in the UEFA Champions League, a midweek tournament to crown the best of the best each season. Why can’t MLB’s World Series winner play a high-stakes tournament, or at least a series, against the best team from Japan, South Korea, Mexico, or another of the top baseball countries out there?
Of course, MLB would be embarrassed if their team lost in the same way it was when the United States lost in the World Baseball Classic prior to winning it in 2017.
- Do away with the draft and salary mechanisms
MLB has so many player and salary mechanisms that you need a PhD to know all of them thoroughly. From Rule 5 Draft players to teams getting compensation if a player under a certain age signs as a free agent with another team, it is too confusing.
Simplifying these unnecessarily complex rules makes the game easier for casual, and even hardcore, fans to follow it. In addition, do these mechanisms actually make the game fairer and more competitive? Probably not. Also, let’s get rid of the draft. Each team should be able to sign which ever player they want as long as they can afford it.
- Add a pitch clock
Basketball has a shot clock to speed up the game and prevent offensive teams from stalling and holding onto the ball. Baseball could benefit from the same clock to hurry pitchers and batters along.
The average baseball game is just under three hours. Since 2014, games have come down in length when they were over three hours long. People just don’t have the time these days to sit and watch long baseball games. By adding a pitch clock, you not only quicken the pace, but it makes for more potentially exciting games.
Baseball would no longer be a slow methodical game, but a faster paced sport with players needing to make split second decisions. Perhaps it would force players to also improve their physical fitness. I’m looking in Jonathan Broxton’s and Bartolo Colon’s direction here.