One of the best things about sports is that they constantly change and adapt when things need to be fixed or amended. Sometimes it takes longer than it should, but eventually rules that obviously need to be altered end up being changed. Every sport has their own set of rules and every year there’s a debate about which ones should be added, deleted or messed around with. When it comes to Major League Baseball, there are many things I personally feel should be changed in order to better the game. Here are four things that I think, if changed, would make baseball more enjoyable for all involved.
More Help on Check Swings
How often does a batter check his swing only to have the home plate umpire controversially rule it a swing/strike? A simple stipulation would solve most of the anger batters have in that situation. Just make the home plate umpire have to ask for help on all check swings. I understand that might be a bit excessive so I would also be open to just making it mandatory to ask for help on what would be a third strike. It’s really a simple change.
Most batters, from what I’ve seen, get more annoyed when the home plate umpire doesn’t ask for help than when the base umpires punch them out. Of course you’ll never fully get rid of check swing batter/pitcher/manager/umpire issues, but a quick ask for help would go a long way. Sure there will still be some disagreements, but it would cut a lot of the anger out of those close calls. First and third base umpires have a better angle to see if the batter swung and they don’t also have to simultaneously decide whether the pitch is a strike or a ball.
More Instant Replay Tweaks
Seeing as instant replay is still fairly new to MLB, it makes sense that there would be things that need to be fixed. The one thing that I’ve never liked when it came to replay is the challenge process. A manager can stall, and stall, stall some more, stall, and finally decide whether to challenge the play or not. Sometimes it takes a minute or two before they decide. That whole time the video guy is going over the replays to make sure it’s worth challenging. It’s never sat well with me how long it takes to challenge a play.
When instant replay was introduced, it was intended to serve as a lifeline for umpires who just flat out blow calls – see Jim Joyce during Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. Umpires are human and sometimes they just miss a call. It happens. That’s why replay was nice to make sure obviously missed calls could be fixed. However, with video guys and managers stalling, replay has been bastardized into nitpicking every little thing that happens. I remember one time Joe Girardi challenged Evan Longoria’s foot coming off the bag after a double. It was off for literally half a second and the Yankee video guy caught it. Technically Longo was out, but it just felt cheap.
Baseball isn’t meant to be played through replay. I propose that managers should have a very limited time to challenge a play, say ten seconds. If the call is clearly missed, that’s more than enough time to decide to challenge. If it isn’t, then get on with the game. No more of this challenging to see if his foot came off the base while you blinked and it takes 30 replays to truly tell if it did or not. Enough is enough.
Also, some of these reviews take too damn long. I mean come on. If it takes longer than a minute or so to review the play, clearly it’s too close to tell. Just stay with the call on the field. The five minute reviews need to go away. It just kills the game. MLB is trying everything they can to shorten games… well getting rid of replay stalling and ridiculously lengthy reviews would help a lot.
Can Assume a Double Play
The next two changes I suggest come into play for official scorers. Something that really bothers me is that old adage “you can’t assume a double play.” Why not? If it’s a routine grounder to short and he flips it to second only to have the second baseman throw errantly to first, why is that not an error? “Because you can’t assume a double play!” It’s ridiculous. There are plenty of times where a double play is virtually guaranteed and a player either drops the ball or makes a bad throw.
I don’t understand why the fact that it’s a double play saves players errors. An error is an error. We can assume one out but not two? It should be up to the discretion of the official scorer if a double play is assumed on the play or not. They’re allowed to decide if a tough “one out” play is a hit or an error, why not let them decide on double plays too? Double plays are part of baseball. It’s the Major Leagues. You can assume certain double plays.
Errors on Pitchers Lead to Earned Runs
When a pitcher makes a fielding error which then leads to a run, it is scored as an unearned run. I’ve always felt like it should be earned because it was the pitcher himself who made the error. He earned that situation that he created with his error. They classify it as unearned because they differentiate a pitcher as a pitcher and a pitcher as a fielder. I totally understand it, I just never liked it. A position player’s error leads to a run, by all means that’s unearned. If the pitcher makes that error, I feel like he earned it.