While you were out enjoying typical winter jobless bliss, quite a few Americans decided to join you. Only they are not being invited to Florida or Arizona and will not resume full time work schedules in April. The opportunity for baseball could not be greater: millions of people in need of entertainment and diversion and with plenty of free time for it.
Fan reactions tend to the extremes in recessionary times. I’d wager a barrel of pork that Joe Unemployed enjoys an afternoon of quality baseball more now than he did when he worked. He celebrates your on-the job triumphs as his too and wins when his team wins.
Of course, he’ll also be the first to berate lazy players or absent minded managing and personnel decisions. He’ll be more than happy to lead a cathartic chorus of boos and march right out of the stadium if it continues. Joe’s been itching to give it to someone and since he can’t go tell Wall Street or his ex-Boss where to stick it, you could be a prime target.
But since I like you so much, I am going to walk you through consolidating each team’s fanbase. Two simple tweaks to the game and you’re well on your way. The first is simple: ban the designated hitter. The other eliminates “wasted” baseball and shortens the game—if the home team trails in non-save situations (that is trailing by four or more) after eight innings require they bat in the top of the 9th (if the deficit is fewer than four runs they would have the option to bat the top of the 9th).
Baseball has a problem when it comes to long games. Few would argue that a four hour game is more enjoyable than a two hour game even though they’d take in an extra hour of baseball for the same price. Anything that shortens the game without affecting the contest has to be a good idea, right?
More importantly why make the home team’s fans stick around for an extra half inning of punishment if they possess the certain gene that makes leaving any event before it’s conclusion sacrilige? I lack this gene, normally if my team is down four after the 8th, I’m headed for the exit content to accept the loss and risk missing a miraculous comeback in the 9th rather than stick around for the visitors to take some more shots. Now if the home team were trailing 4 after 8, but were to bat again in the top of the 9th, don’t you think you’d see fewer folks pouring out of the stadium after 8 innings?
The designated hitter ban should speak for itself. Don’t you see how this is part of the whole juice culture of baseball today? You’ve created a roster spot that betrays the game itself by introducing some boehemoth whose sole job is to hit the shit out of the ball, and turned pitchers into pricks who can throw beanballs without fearing reprisals and taken much of the real strategy of the game of baseball from the contest. Where’s the strategy in hoping your DH knocks one or two out? I like how Tony Larussa hides his pitchers in the 8th spot, I like how managers face tradeoffs of leaving a pitcher in even though you’d like to replace his bat in the 6th, I like the double switch in the 7th, I like that small ball still has a place in baseball. All this reminds us that baseball is a game, not just a home run hitting contest.
Teams would be able to make some cap room not having to fill this phony position. It also wouldn’t hurt to let fans see the pitchers step up to the plate in the American League. Don’t you see how people who have no work might be a bit miffed seeing some middle reliever who throws two innings, makes seven figures and manages to have someone else proxy for him half the time he’s in the game?
Anyhow, you had a hell of a year last year and with these two tweaks you’ll be certifiably recession-proof.