Couch Slouch’s 16 suggestions to improve baseball
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BY NORMAN CHAD
For the Sun-Times
New Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wants baseball to move into the 21st century — Couch Slouch disagrees with him right there; the 20th century was a lot better than people remember — and, along those lines, has proposed a number of new-millennium changes.
Manfred, it appears, would like a game that is faster, a game that is higher-scoring, a game that resonates with a younger fan base and a game that embraces social media.
Frankly, it sounds as though he would be happier running the X Games.
(By the way, he also is thinking about reinstating Pete Rose, so he’s not completely dismissing the 20th century.)
Luckily, as a baseball fan for parts of two centuries, I think I can help here. I must have a million suggestions to speed up the game, give it more of an edge, increase fan involvement and make it more scintillating. Space considerations will not allow me to list all of my ideas, but here are 16 of them:
1. Three consecutive foul balls and you’re out.
2. Legalize all PEDs. This will end drug testing, shut down the ‘‘does he or doesn’t he?’’ debates and enable the San Francisco Giants to re-sign Barry Bonds.
3. Bring back the bullpen car but make it a Ferrari.
4. Instead of the seventh-inning stretch, end games automatically after 6½ innings if one team has a seven-run lead or if the game has reached four hours in length.
5. Outfielders no longer will be allowed to wear gloves.
6. Use a modified sudden-death format for extra innings. If the visiting team hits a home run in the top of the 10th, 11th or 12th, the game is over.
(Column intermission I: The NFL is trying to figure out what to do with the extra point. The extra point is the NFL’s penny; nobody wants them, needs them or knows what to do with them. This notion of moving back the extra-point kick 15 yards is ill-conceived. I happen to be a hard-liner — I would DECERTIFY ALL KICKERS — but let’s just lose the extra-point kick completely. How about this as an alternative: After a touchdown, a team has an option to run or pass from the 1-yard line for a one-point conversion or run or pass from the 5-yard line for a two-point conversion. Run the metrics on that baby, you saber skinheads!)
(Column intermission II: The Colts proposed an NFL rule change in which, if a team makes a two-point conversion, it then would try a 50-yard kick for a bonus point — that’s right, creating a nine-point touchdown. Hey, why stop there? If the 50-yard kick is good, I suggest teams can opt to go double or nothing. Put the ball on the 20, and if the team can get into the end zone in one play, that’s a total of 18 points; if it fails, the team winds up with zero points for its efforts. You could wipe out a 35-0 deficit in two possessions! Wow.)
7. No bunting permitted during interleague games.
8. If a foul ball is caught on the fly in the stands by a spectator or vendor, it is recorded as an out.
9. Eliminate third-base umpires. This will result in an annual savings of $4.87 million, plus, frankly, there just aren’t enough close plays at third base to justify the position.
10. If a player makes an error, he is removed from the field until the next out is recorded. This will create the equivalent of a hockey power play and increase scoring.
11. I don’t believe I’m going out on a limb in saying that nobody likes the infield-fly rule.
12. When the bases are empty, the batter has the option of running toward first or third base after a batted ball. If he gets on safely, first and third base then are swapped for the rest of the half-inning, meaning the basepaths will operate clockwise instead of counterclockwise. Note: In this scenario, second base is always second base.
13. Invoking my Uncle Stanislav’s No. 2 rule of life — ‘‘You got us into this mess, you’ll get us out of this mess’’ — no pitching changes in the middle of an inning.
14. Enforce the ‘‘No pepper’’ warnings behind or near home plate.
15. The David Ortiz rule, to be applied to David Ortiz’s at-bats only: If he leaves the batter’s box for any reason other than a family emergency, he is automatically out.
16. Ban the double switch. It just feels so 19th century.
Ask The Slouch
Q. President Obama’s approval rating is in the 40s, I believe your marital success rate is ‘‘hovering’’ around .333 and Jeff Fisher, over 20 years, has a .524 winning percentage. Which of you should be coaching the
St. Louis Rams? (Michael A. Becker, Clayton, Missouri)
A. Are the Rams still in
Q. Do you think the Connecticut women’s basketball team could beat an NBA team? (Donald Coates, Carmel, Indiana)
A. If they borrow Duke’s officials, I think UConn could beat the Dallas Mavericks, who, according to owner Mark Cuban, never get any calls.
Q. With the NFL draft soon approaching, is it true that Mel Kiper Jr. has identified the Redskins’ biggest need at the ownership position? (Rory Rohde, Hamilton, Virginia)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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