Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Send in the midgets!

How many pitches are there in a nine inning MLB game? Maybe 300 by both teams? How many of them result in hits or non strike outs? Maybe 60? That would be about 20%. In other words, MLB has devolved into two guys playing catch occasionally interrupted by something actually happening. It would be as if an NBA game was 80% free throw shooting. I have written on this theme previously:

- advocating starting the count on 3-2;
- the imaginary strike zone, one floating in the air, unlike anything in NBA or NFL;
- making the strike zone circular and the same size for all batters, only raised or lowered a little bit at the batter's request; to avoid abuse this could be restricted so that the bottom of the strike zone must be no lower than the batter's knees and the top no higher than the batter's shoulders.

Note: the current strike zone only varies vertically but not horizontally. Why is that? Oh, because the plate is a fixed size? What has the size of the plate got to do with the width of the strike zone? Nothing if you really think about it except that it's a mistake made 150 years ago that no one has considered since. If the strike zone varies in size to accommodate each batter, then why restrict the variation to vertical change and not horizontal? MLB cannot even get that right.

 - eliminating walks completely: if the pitcher can not throw strikes let the opposing team throw the ball to the batter or hand the ball to the batter and let him hit it fungo style; just get the damn thing in play.

This stuff would require another improvement: make base runners stay on the bag until the ball is hit. The game originally was probably one of hitting, fielding and base running, like modern slow pitch softball. MLB is now not just devoid of much action it also lacks pace, flow, continuity. It stops after each pitch. It succumbs to an endless series of delaying rituals: taking the sign, checking the runner, stepping out, stepping off, etc. MLB has become unwatchable.

Here is a reasonable way to attack the stupid walk rule: send in the midgets! Dwarfs if you prefer. Small human beings. Eddie Gaedel rides again! It is a tribute to the constipation of thought of the brain dead MLB management that no one has tried this again since Sunday, August 19, 1951 when Eddie Gaedel pinch hit for the St. Louis Browns. Gaedel was 3 feet 7 inches tall. He walked. The event was dismissed as a mere publicity stunt by the Browns owner Bill Veeck. Actually, Veeck had stumbled onto a way to expose the stupidity of the MLB walk rule, which should have been changed radically after Babe Ruth walked 170 times in 1923. Make a mockery of it until they change it ... hopefully for the better but with MLB you never know. Current AL teams in particular can do this by having the midget be the DH, designated hitter, someone who does not play the field. Wouldn't the midget be a slow runner? Not necessarily but he/she would probably be faster than David Ortiz, the Boston DH. Plus, it would provide an opportunity for women to play MLB. The requirement is not that the player be able to hit, but to be small and run fast. Why not women? How could MLB legislate against it? Can you say Americans with Disabilities Act? Good luck trying to ban midgets, women, dwarfs, even children in 2010.

Send in the midgets!

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