I know we are all sad to see our best Bud stroll off into the sunset, but it's time to embrace a new world of baseball innovation! Rob Manfred was coronated the new commissioner of baseball last week and boy is he full of ideas. One idea in particular stands out as super-duper brilliant: eliminate defensive shifts. Manfred said in an interview with ESPN that:
The second set of changes (in addition to "pace of the game" issues) that I would look at is related, and that relates to injecting additional offense in the game. Things like eliminating shifts, I would be open to those sorts of ideas. ... We have really smart people working in the game, and they're going to find ways to get a competitive advantage. I think it's incumbent of us in the commissioner's office and to say, 'Is this what we want to happen in the game?"
(Tigerdog has the full story HERE)
"Injecting additional offense."
Who doesn't love a nice injection? Sure, eliminating shifts would be almost impossible to enforce and go against the very nature of the game but who cares about principles when there is HOT O injection to be done?
Eliminating shifts could help keep defenders away from the areas where batters like to hit the ball. This is such a good idea it needs to be extended. I present to you the...
1. NO GO ZONE
This would be a giant circle painted in the center of the field, the perfect spot for a gaudy bowl-game style sponsor logo. No defensive player may enter the NO GO ZONE until the ball lands and the player counts to "5 Mississippi" out loud. Ian Kinsler is already salivating at the idea of hitting lazy pop-up into the circle while he rounds the bases to third.
Sure, this would inject some offense, but I don't feel we've injected enough. Let's keep going!
2. Splay out the foul lines 5 degrees
Yes, every ballpark would have to be retrofitted at huge expense, but we've already established that ruining core principles of the game is a triviality. Think off all the extra balls that would be in play! Think of all the defenders diving in to the stands! The Oakland Coliseum might have an appropriate amount of foul territory for once. I'm sure we can figure out all the minutiae of base positioning and baseline lengths, I mean, it's not like it's as hard as banning shifts.
STILL, MORE OFFENSE!
3. Don't drug test the designated hitter
If Manfred can learn anything from Selig it is that nothing injects offense like injections. While we don't want all our players to look like 'roided out freaks, there is a certain majesty in a bodybuilder coming to bat looking like he wants to drop some MMA style punishment on the baseball. Why can't we have just a little peril!?
The designated hitter is the perfect petri dish for power experimentation. Give him the full East German women's swim team treatment. The DH is mostly hidden in the dugout so we get that pleasing gasp 4-5 times a game when a freakish behemoth emerges from the dugout and strolls the plate. The DH is usually an older guy who likely already has kids and doesn't really need functioning testicles. Who needs big balls when you have long balls?! It would certainly be exciting to have a place for A-rod in the sport again.
4. Limit the size of gloves
Remember when hockey changed the equipment rules for goaltenders? The pads were made a couple inches smaller and up went the goals (I assume. My research department has the day off). Why not do the same thing with baseball? We can't have outfielders strolling out there with Quintin Berry sized gloves! It's not fair. Gloves should be no larger than .18 altuves in length by .9 altuves wide.
5. Runs are now worth two runs
All the ideas above are likely to increase run scoring, but, to quote Princess Buttercup, how can you be sure? Easy, each run is now worth two runs! This has the potential to almost double run output! Think of all the excitement this will add. Near the end of the game when your team is down by two runs one swing of the bat could tie it up! The scoring records would be demolished! My nipples are hard just thinking about it.
I think these five modest proposals will really get Major League Baseball back to attracting its target demographic: short attention-spanned, teenaged, extreme-sports enthusiasts.
Go, Rob, go!