Major League Baseball enters its unofficial second half Friday as the teams come out of the All-Star break and get ready for the stretch run to the postseason.
The first half has been filled with plenty of highlights and surprises (see: the Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates) as the game is having another strong season overall.
That said, there are several things baseball’s leaders could do to make the game even better, although we all know exactly how slow they are to move on just about anything.
Expand replay: This could actually be done now and should be done now. But for some reason, the game’s leaders just don’t see the need for it.
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But there are several games each week that are affected by atrocious calls by umpires, and that doesn’t need to carry over into the playoffs.
We’re not talking about the strike zone, although it’s pretty silly that each umpire has his “own” strike zone. There is one strike zone, which is in the rule book, and it just doesn’t make sense that the umpires can’t get that right. But that’s a totally different column.
Replay, however, could certainly fix some of the other calls that come up in almost every game: Calls at the bases, fair-foul balls down the lines and disputes on catches/non-catches are just a few of those, and they could be fixed quickly if baseball officials would step up to the proverbial plate.
Be consistent on the DH: I’ve never been a fan of the DH, but it’s ridiculous that the AL has it and the NL doesn’t. The spotlight on that is even brighter after Houston’s move to the AL, which gave each league 15 teams and sprinkled interleague games throughout the season.
My first thought is to eliminate the DH, but that will never pass, so baseball should just go ahead and have the DH in both leagues. It’s not ideal, but it’s a lot more ideal than having different rules for the different leagues. That maybe made sense when the two leagues didn’t play each other during the regular season, but with interleague games on the schedule the entire season, it would be better to just have the same rules for both leagues.
No more “now it counts:” Houston’s move to the AL also comes into play here. There is no reason that the All-Star game, an exhibition, should decide the home-field advantage for the World Series.
There is an easier way to do that now that both leagues have 15 teams: Whichever league has the best record in interleague games throughout the season gets the home-field advantage in the World Series. It’s as simple as that.
Another full round for playoffs: Every Atlanta Braves fan vividly remembers last year’s horrible “infield fly rule” call in the team’s loss to St. Louis in the NL wild-card game. It was an awful call; there’s no way to sugarcoat that.
It wasn’t the only reason the Braves lost the game (their struggles defensively were key to that), but it certainly didn’t help their cause.
But, again, it’s something that could be avoided pretty easily. The wild-card round should not be limited to just one game. Maybe it doesn’t need to be seven games or even five, but three would work perfectly. A single game opens up the teams to a fluke helping determine the winner and which team will advance in the playoffs. That’s just what happened to the Braves last year, and it doesn’t need to happen again.
Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org