I love baseball, but the MLB needs to change the game for viewers at home

October 27, 2021 — by Shaan Sridhar
Photo by Shaan Sridhar
The San Francisco Giants play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs on Oct. 9.
The sport loses its in-person thrills on TV.

On Sept. 5, when I went to watch the San Francisco Giants play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Oracle Park, the excitement was palpable. Throughout the entire game, Giants fans stood up in their seats, cheering and repeatedly chanting “BEAT LA!” 

Even though the game was over three hours long — the Giants ended up winning — it was one of the most exciting sporting events I’ve ever been to.

Despite baseball’s reputation for being boring, the games are some of the best sports events to watch in-person. Not once throughout that game between the California rivals did I wonder when it would end.

But the reality is that this energy does not translate to most fans watching at home. On broadcasts, the exhilarating energy is often reduced to background noise behind two voices narrating a relatively slow-paced game — 162 times in the regular season. The MLB needs to alter the game structure and season schedule to make the sport more enjoyable for all fans: It’s time to make baseball shorter and faster.

I consider myself a huge baseball fan, but sometimes I find myself multitasking while watching games on TV. They’re simply too long to focus on for the entire duration.

Still, there are simple fixes to this.

 

  1. Reduce the number of innings. 

I understand the nine inning game is iconic, but reducing the game to seven innings would remove the less competitive, mid-game dead zone where neither starting pitchers nor closing pitchers are playing. By removing two innings from games, the MLB would ensure more action and effort in each inning.

 

  1. Cut down the 162-game season. 

It’s hard to be a die-hard fan when it’s practically impossible to watch the majority of games. The NFL’s football season has a mere 17 games, while the NBA’s basketball season has just 82. The baseball season would get more attention from media and fans if the season length was cut down to fewer than 120 games: Each game would become more rare, and more important to viewers as a result.

 

  1. Speed up the game.

The MLB has already made some changes to speed up the pace of game, such as shortening the intentional walk process and limiting the number of coaching visits to the mound (baseball timeouts). The league also instituted a rule that added one baserunner on second base at the start of all extra innings, but this change was removed with the start of the 2021 postseason after players and purist fans complained. To help prevent endless extra innings, this rule should be added back.

Another idea is to replace inconsistent umpires with robots. Fury over bad calls disrupts the game, angering players and fans alike. Lots of time is often wasted as teams are frequently forced to challenge calls, leading to lengthy replay review processes. By instituting robots to this same job, these delays would disappear.

 

The best part of these proposed changes is that the energy of stadiums like Oracle Park will be unaffected. Games might be shorter and faster, but they will be just as exciting, if not more. Shortened games could potentially encourage fans to attend more games too, helping teams like the Giants, who are struggling with stadium attendance.

These ideas, along with the changes already made, will make baseball so much more fun to watch at home. More audiences will be attracted due to shorter and more exciting games, and the energy of fans in the stadium might finally extend to broadcasts at home.

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