Commentary: Changes for the perfect game of Baseball


by - Columnist -
Caylor Arnold - USA Today Sports
Caylor Arnold - USA Today Sports

Let me introduce myself. My name is Dan and I love baseball. I have been a Cubs fan my entire life, and I went to my first game in 1958 at four years of age. In the summer of 1960, my 13-year-old aunt and I went to more than thirty Cubs games. I have been to over 200 major league games around the country over the years and at least 20 minor league games too. I have had my heart broken by my team more times than I care to remember and I’m sure 50 percent of the gray hairs on my head are because of being a Cubs fan. I tell you this because I want you to know I am not a casual baseball fan, and I don’t understand how that person can exist. Baseball was, is, and will always be the fabric of our lives in America no matter what the NFL tells you. It used to be said that if you want to understand Americans, learn baseball. I would like that to to think that remains still true.

It is trendy today to talk about how baseball needs to change to gain the attention of the younger generation. Make it faster, hit more home runs, shorten the game, all chants of a particular crowd to ruin a perfectly perfect game. These are likely the same people that have foisted sabermetrics on to baseball. At what point did we need to know what someone’s BABIP is? (It is batting average for balls in play.) Really? If the ball is in play, then it is 100%, if not then it is any Cubs leadoff hitter not named Almora. dERA is the estimate of a pitchers ERA if you take luck and defense out of the picture. Huh?!? If you take defense out of the picture, you have the 2018 Blackhawks, and I’m not sure they are playing baseball. Don’t even try to figure out PECOTA.

What I do know is that in my lifetime two changes have come to this perfect game that has hurt it and it needs to be returned to the way things used to be. The first is the DH. This idiotic rule not only makes the game slower because more people are hitting, but it makes no sense that only half the league plays under this rule. What pro sports league anywhere in the world would approve a rule for only half the teams? The second is interleague play. This is wrong for several reasons. One, not every team in baseball plays the same schedule thus making it unfair for many teams who have a more manageable schedule of interleague games. Two, it has taken the excitement away from the All-star game because you see guys play each other all year long. You want to make the All-star game fun again, eliminate interleague play. Three, same thing for the World Series. Who cares if the Cubs play Cleveland since they already played them six times earlier in the year.

I can see that many of you are rolling your eyes and thinking this guy is a traditionalist and someone needs to knock some sense into him. I say, stand in line. My wife has been trying for 40 years and if she can’t fix me then you have no chance. But here is where I shake off the catcher and go with the curve ball. There are some things that baseball could change to improve the perfect game.

First, add a 26th player to the major league roster as this will soften the blow of eliminating the designated hitter, and it will make the union happy and makes the manager content. Another uniform gets sold and revenue increases. Second, start the season later in April and make every team have at least two doubleheaders a month and will give players more off days and effectively shorten the season.

Third, have each ballclub invest in inner-city leagues as this will renew the interest of young people in these areas to continue to play baseball into high school and college possibly. Finally, play more games against teams within a division. If you eliminate interleague games, you can do this easily. It would give a better representation of who won a division. So, it’s a start. As I said, the game is already pretty much perfect. I mean can you imagine how different it would be if the bases were 70 feet apart and the pitcher's mound was 65 feet away?

People like to say the game has changed over the years, but really, other than the few examples I pointed out and maybe a handful of others it hasn’t.

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