Baseball should shorten its games to seven innings.The purists will freak out, but the sport is going to fade into obscurity if it doesn’t try to win back fans somehow.
Here’s why it would work:
It’d bring games under two(ish) hours. People don’t have the time (or ability) to sit around for three and a half hours and watch every play of a baseball game. But a two-hour commitment is totally doable.
Part of the reason that no one cares about the World Series is that they have no connection to the teams because they haven’t watched them during the regular season.
After all, who the hell is going to sit inside for four hours and watch a Cardinals-Reds regular season game on a summer night?
Shortening the games will make casual viewing during the regular season easier, and will lift the popularity of the sport come playoff time.
It’d help the league make stars. In theory, pitchers are the most likely baseball players to become stars — they’re on the field 50% of the time, they’re (literally) the centre of attention, and TV shows 1,000 close ups of their sweaty faces every game.
A seven inning game would emphasise the starter even more. It’s his show, it’s his game. A rotating cast of relievers won’t be there to steal his thunder in the late innings.
It’d nearly eliminate pitching changes. Blah, pitching changes are just awful. They grind the drama to a halt in the middle of a game.
What other sport says, “Stop everything. We need to stand here for five minutes and wait for a guy to meander out of the bullpen and practice before we decide this game.”
It’d make every pitch important. For long stretches of baseball games, there is no drama at all. But shortening the action to 21 outs makes each player that much more important.
Bottom line: baseball needs to change. Whether it’s making games seven-innings long or instituting something else, baseball has it fix itself.
People care less and less about the game every year. Rather than lamenting that, baseball needs to tailor itself to how people watch and follow sports.
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