It’s opening week (technically) and I’ve got the game on the brain. Today’s missive was inspired by the following amazing play:
2022 AL Gold Glove winner. 🏆— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 12, 2022
Brett Phillips, pitcher. pic.twitter.com/vOPgjElC7q
Super cool, right? On the surface, yes, and I applaud Mr. Phillips for his effort and athleticism. However…
That’s a position player.
Four games into the season.
When teams are all ready carrying extra pitchers because rosters have been expanded to account for the shortened spring training.
That’s a freakin’ problem, the shortened spring training caveat be damned. And it plays right into my biggest, grandest fix for improving Major League Baseball.
Nine inning games are too long.
Let’s play six, and require the starting pitcher to go at least three unless there’s an injury or a rain delay. Reducing the number of innings will keep more players healthy, heighten the excitement of the game by raising the urgency to score, and–most importantly–allow those of us who love the sport to watch an entire game without committing 16% of our day to it.
Reducing the length of a baseball game makes far too much sense, so let’s argue with all the bullshit reasons it’ll never happen.
But that example you cited with Phillips was a blowout! Yeah, Rays manager Kevin Cash brought his spare outfielder into a 9-1 game in the seventh inning to save his bullpen because he knew there was no reason to waste good arms on a game his team was highly unlikely to win. So why bother playing at all? Implementation of my six-inning rule would put a merciful end to these kinds of ass-whoopings.
But muh ad revenue! Sure, shorter games means fewer breaks in the action and fewer opportunities for our nation’s wonderful corporations to shove their bullshit in our faces, which means less revenue for the cable companies paying for MLB rights–or does it? If there’s anything our beloved car insurance, pharmaceutical, cheap beer, and automobile manufacturing companies have proven over the years, it’s that they’ve all got money to burn and have no problem stacking up giant piles of it and lighting it ablaze. Fewer ad opportunities means higher prices. Supply and demand.
But what’s to stop teams from faking an injury to pull ineffective starters before their third inning? Simple: the other team’s doctor makes the call.
But what’s to stop that guy from being a jerk? Also simple: the threat of a little sweet chin music. Plus fines, I guess.
But muh historical comparisons! Are we really going to compromise the present and the future watchability and success of the game just so we can compare Mike Trout and some guy from 1910 named something like Torky McGee? “Putting too much stock in the past” is right at the top of my List of Shit I Wish People Would Stop Doing, right there with “walking too slow” and “having grocery stores.” Just stop it.
But baseball has no reason to make such a drastic change because the money train ain’t slowing down. True, and in the end this is why the game will never be what it could be, and why curmudgeons like myself will continue to complain about a game we truly love and want the good things for. Although I’m thankful for the league’s financial stability, deep down…I also really don’t care about that, and just want to see the best version of my favorite sport.