Thursday, April 24, 2008

Start at bats with the count 3-2

Another great idea from slow pitch softball.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Only baseball begrudges its players protection. Plastic covers for the elbow are called armor. Many think that if a batter is hit by a pitch on the "armor" that the player should not be entitled to first base, unless maybe the batter has had a previous injury to that body part. Does that apply to the head, too? Hitting a player's batting helmet does not warrant the batter being awarded first base unless that player has already had a concussion?

Outfielders used to battle brick walls and other
immovable objects in most ball parks. In some cases there was naked chain link fence. Hey, it was cheap. Mickey Mantle broke his foot in June 1963 chasing Brooks Robinson's home run to center in Baltimore and missed three months. I remember being on the subway platform in Flushing Queens waiting for the seven train to take me to high school in Manhattan and seeing the headline on the front page of the Daily News: Mantle Breaks Foot, Out Season.

So eventually padding was introduced. Have you ever touched that stuff? It's hard. Would you let a pole vaulter land on that from twenty feet? The pole vaulter lands on a big soft cushion. You know so that injury is avoided. Since that stuff exists, why not use it in baseball parks? Players would actually be protected. Imagine how cool it would be to see them running into it? Kids would love to play that way.

MLB could also outlaw catches of fly balls that are in the stands. That eliminates players trying to vault onto and over the new stuff. It also separates the players more from the fans on batted balls, hopefully decreasing fan interference.

Foul Territory: what good is it?

by Kenneth Matinale

April 4, 2008

In basketball and football out of bounds means that the play is over. Not in baseball. For no apparent reason baseball allows some plays to be made out of bounds, i.e., in foul territory. There are passed balls and wild pitches. Balls that the defense otherwise place into foul territory such as by a bad throw. If a pitcher tries to pick off a runner at first base and the throw gets past the first baseman, the runner may run until the cows come home or until he scores. The most amazing thing is that even some batted balls are in play, but only those hit into the air. Once a ball touches the ground the fielder may not play it. In their incredible haze of historic acceptance baseball fans never even ask why. Why the heck is a foul fly in play but not a foul grounder? One reason may be to keep the playing area within practical limits so that fielders are not covering too much territory. That makes sense except why flies? Why not make all fouls not playable? Maybe so that all those fouls do not result in players just standing around. Yeah, right! Baseball wouldn't want players standing around.

If a ball is batted it should be in play. Here is a simple way to achieve that. Had ice hockey been invented before baseball it might have been incorporated from the beginning. Then again if hockey and especially basketball had been invented before baseball, baseball would never have been slowed down to its presently unacceptable state. Slow pitch softball is the essence of the game. Put the damn ball in play. Eliminate leads by base runners and eliminate stealing.
Speed slows down the game.

Side boards, baby! That's it. Bring the stands to the foul lines with a barrier to protect the fans: plexyglass or see through fence like that in the Japanese park where Boston and Oakland recently opened the 2008 season. Any batted ball that hits the board is in play. If hit over, it is a foul out of play like balls hit into the stands now. Some would describe this sarcastically as arena baseball. So? It eliminates all that standing around that sucks the life out of a baseball game. The action would be much more flowing. Offense may not increase as much as some might expect. Balls hit off the board between home and first or third base would probably result in an out. Now it's just more pointless waiting for something that counts to actually happen.

Runners would not be able to cut the angle of first and third base but could bounce off the board to propel themselves forward. Without stealing, there are no throws to first to hold the runner close. The pitchers could use one motion to the plate and concentrate on the batter. Runners would have further to run if they could not leave the bag until the ball crossed home plate. There might be many more double plays.

Behind home there would be a limited area in play; use something like the batting cage used in batting practice. Passed balls and wild pitches would be a distant memory.

Imagine sitting in the first row down the line? Fans would be so much closer. You do not want to sit behind a barrier? You like having your life in danger from balls and splintered bats? Have you ever sat behind the glass during a hockey game? It's amazing. Of course baseball would still be slow by comparison but you could be so much closer to the action.

Read my post about padding the walls.