How to Improve Baseball (and Make It More Like Hockey)

It’s early April, and you know what that means — playoff hockey is just around the corner! Of course, the beginning of spring also signals something far more sinister in the sporting world — another baseball season has arrived. That’s right, 162 games of yawn-inducing tedium. Can you feel the excitement?

What kind of a name is "Rance", anyway?

What kind of a name is "Rance", anyway?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate baseball. In fact, I used to love baseball and was a huge fan of the late ’80s / early ’90s Toronto Blue Jays teams. Jesse Barfield, George Bell, Lloyd Moseby, Kelly Gruber, Tom Henke, Dave Steib, Cecil Fielder, Tony Fernandez, Rance Mulliniks … they were all awesome (but not as awesome as the Joe Carter / Roberto Alomar teams that actually went all the way, of course). And while I still can appreciate the sport and all of its subtle little intricacies, I rarely ever watch it anymore — and if I do, it’s usually the last couple innings of a playoff game.

And why is that? Because baseball is downright boring to watch — and if it’s the regular season, it’s absolutely dreadful.

So, in order to spice things up and infuse a little bit of April hockey excitement into boring April baseball, I am proposing the following changes to the game:

Full Contact Baseball

Of course, step one would to be unpussify baseball by making it a full contact sport. Yeah, I know, there’s already a little bit of contact involved in the play (especially at home plate), but these cases shouldn’t be isolated incidents — they should be actively encouraged. I see absolutely no problem with allowing first basemen to deliver a crushing shoulder check to the baserunner as he comes charging in, and I particularly relish the thought of seeing the shortstop sending a runner head-over-heels with a devastating hip check as he dashes between second and third.

Like this, but anywhere on the field!

Like this, but anywhere on the field!

Not only would this suggestion make the baseball highlights on TSN slightly more bearable to watch, but as as added bonus, baseball becomes a much tougher sport to compete in. As the injuries pile up and the fatigue sets in, Bud Selig will have no choice but to drastically reduce the schedule as he sees that the players are no longer capable of participating in 162 meaningless games. It’s a win-win situation for everybody, really.

Replace Walls with Boards and Glass

This suggestions calls for short boards and glass be installed along the entire perimeter of the baseball field, just like a hockey rink. First, it would provide a bit more protection from errant foul balls and broken bats for the fans in the first few rows. Second (and most importantly), it would add a touch of excitement to the routine fly ball. Can you imagine the centre fielder running back to the warning track to make a catch, and then at the last moment jumping into the glass for the grab, re-enacting an Alex Ovechkin goal celebration as he’s surrounded by screaming fans pounding on the glass? Now that would be interesting.

Back ... back ... back ... Ovechkin grabs it at the wall! What a catch!

Back ... back ... back ... Ovechkin grabs it at the wall! What a catch!

Feeling Shame in the Penalty Box

In baseball, when a player commits an error, nothing really happens. Sure, maybe a run gets scored, but chances are the scorekeeper was just tired of seeing zeros in the last column of the game’s boxscore and decided to take matters into his own hands. Why not make an error actually mean something by sending the offending player to a newly-created penalty box, forcing his team to play a man short for the rest of the inning? It would up the offensive output considerably, as there would be many more gaps in which to bloop singles — and if the “new” NHL has taught us anything, it’s that more offence puts butts in the seats, right?

Those are just a few ideas that could add some life into mundane springtime baseball. Would they actually generate excitement for the sport once implemented? Well, there’s only way to find out — which means the ball’s in your court now, MLB. Or is that dugout? Batter’s box? Whatever, you have the ball, just do something with it, jerks.

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