Major League Baseball opens its season today. Do you care? If you’re like most Americans under the age of 50, probably not. According to a recent survey, the average 25-year-old American man prefers football, basketball, soccer and even women’s lacrosse to baseball. OK, that’s not a real survey. But as anyone who helped CNBC’s Darren Rovell tweet empty seats last year knows, the sport’s popularity is flagging. Clearly, MLB needs changes to catch up to the modern man. We’ve got a few ideas. And yes, one of them involves swimsuit models.
1. Pick up the pace
Between batters calling timeout to re-velcro their batting gloves for the eighth time and pitchers circling the mound to stroke their precious Fu Manchus and cover their entire hands in rosin, the average MLB at-bat now lasts roughly as long as a Terrence Malick film. Take a cue from college baseball and institute a 20-second clock for pitchers. Hell, make it 14 seconds. Also, when a new pitcher comes in, we shouldn’t all have to sit around while he takes warm-up pitches. The guy’s been firing fastballs in the bullpen for the past 20 minutes. Pitch!
2. Shorten the games
Let’s face it: nine innings is just too much baseball. You know what’s a nice amount? Six innings. Six is good. It’s more bite-size. If people feel like they can actually sit through a whole game without dozing off in boredom, they’ll watch. Look at soccer Two 45-minute halves. Perfect. Right now, you can watch two soccer games in the time it takes to watch one MLB game. Three if it’s Yankees-Red Sox.
3. Get rid of pitchers batting
Pitchers stink at batting. Most of the time, they strike out. All of the time, they look ridiculous. So stop forcing them to go up there and fail, National League. If people wanted to pay good money to come see a professional suck at what he does, they’d go to a Tyler Perry movie.
4. New rule: bench players required to drink in the clubhouse
One 12-ounce light beer per half-inning. With or without fried chicken. Sure, Boston missed the playoffs last year with this strategy. But weren’t they interesting?
5. Demote the worst teams
It’s time the Pittsburghs and Kansas Citys of the league stopped getting a free pass to be terrible every year. Baseball is the one American sport that could legitimately set up a relegation system. The worst three MLB teams each year go down to Triple-A, and the best three Triple-A teams come up to the majors. Do the same for the rest of the minor-league system. In other words, see you in Double-A in 2014, Houston.
6. Hire the Saints coaches to set up a bounty program
Five hundred dollars to anyone who plunks Ozzie Guillen with a wild pitch. A thousand for Mark McGwire!
7. Let every infielder block his base
You know how catchers can block the plate? (Well, every catcher except Buster Posey, anyway.) Let them all do that. Suddenly every groundball is a potential bone-crunching collision at first base. Take it from the NFL: collisions equal excitement.
8. Make the outfield more of an obstacle course
Maybe put in some sand traps, a few pieces of patio furniture. Perhaps a water slide. Might want to consult with Marc Summers from Double Dare on this one.
9. New rule 2: every team has to put a swimsuit model in right field for at least one inning
And she has to be wearing a swimsuit, obviously.
10. New York’s new shortstop? Mr. Met.