My rules changes: baseball

As a longtime sports fan I’ve always felt there are some rules that don’t make a ton of sense and should be changed to make the games better. Now over the years some of those changes I wanted have actually been made, so logically that means every change I want is great and they should all be done. OK, maybe not. But over the last few months I’ve seen some things that finally got me in the mood put put some of these ideas down “on paper”. Now some of these are truly good ideas, but some are just to see how they look being translated from my head into the real world.

In this series of posts I’ll look at most of the major sports and throw some ideas out there about some potential changes. Not all of them will be great ideas, In the first post we’ll look at the one one major sport currently in the off season–baseball.

* I would make both leagues use the same set of rules. Since there’s no chance the MLBPA will eliminate the designated hitter in the American League and for some reason fans of the National League want to see pitchers hit, we’ll combine both sets of rules and use 10 batters so every line-up will have a designated hitter and a pitcher batting. Best (or worst) of both worlds.

* Games take far too long, so despite there being no clock in baseball we’ll probably have to add one even if it’s just held by an umpire. The rules currently call for a pitcher to deliver a pitch within 12 seconds of receiving the ball if there’s no one on base, with the penalty of a ball being called if it’s not pitched under the time limit. In 25+ years of umpiring I’m the only umpire that I can recall ever calling a ball in that situation. I warned coaches before the game I enforce that rule, although I never gave them less than a count of 15 after warning them twice.

So as the concept of the rule already exists I would require a pitcher to either deliver the ball to home plate or attempt to pick a runner off within 25 seconds if there is a runner on base. First offense in an inning would be a ball on the batter, second and subsequent offenses that same inning would be balks and runners would advance one base. This rule would be against a team and not a pitcher, so changing pitchers in the middle of an inning would not start the cycle over.

* The batter has to stay in the batters box. Just like a pitcher needs to deliver the ball in a set amount of time the batter needs to keep his butt in the batters box when there are no runners on base. Failure to do so would result in any pitch made while the batter is out of the box to be called a strike. If there are runners on base the batter will have five seconds from the time the catcher returns the ball to the pitcher to receive any signs from a base coach to return to the batters box.

* I’d like to see a replay challenge system like the NFL. Managers would get two challenges per game on safe/out, fair/foul, and home run calls. Should an umpire be found to have made an error, using a portion of the rules that already exists the umpire will determine where any runners on base would have ended up and places them in those locations. If an umpire’s error results in an out being called all runners not retired would be returned to the bases they started the play at. If a manager is correct in both of his challenges he will earn a third, and would continue to earn challenges until one fails.

* Make the all-star game was it should be–an exhibition that does not count for anything. Award the team with the best record with home field in each round of the playoffs. I realize that the better record might be the wild card team, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The better record gets home field.

* Eliminate expanded rosters after September 1st. This rule has never made any sense to me. You play with the same roster all summer but in the midst of a playoff chase you get to add players to your roster, and then those players can’t play in the playoffs?

*Limit crashing into the catcher. Like running to first base, going from third to home foul territory belongs to the runner and fair territory belongs to the fielder. If the catcher is in fair territory a runner cannot run him over, nor touch him in any manner not consistent with attempting to touch the plate. If a catcher is blocking the plate in foul territory his body–NOT HIS HEAD–is fair game. A runner may attempt to dislodge the ball on a tag from fair into foul territory, but may not target the catcher’s body in doing so. Should a runner violate the rule he is automatically out and ejected from the game.

So, what changes would you make?

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