Dan's Dugout: Don't Change The Game • Latino Sports

Baseball

Dan’s Dugout: Don’t Change The Game

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Cal Ripken is still active in baseball

Cal Ripken is still active in baseball

Cal Ripken, Jr. has worn a lot of suits and pushed plenty of products since becoming baseball’s Iron Man.

His latest incarnation is a job with Major League Baseball designed to attract the attention of the nation’s youth.

The theory is that kids who play baseball will also watch baseball — and therefore become the fans of tomorrow.

Commissioner Rob Manfred, who hired Ripken, recognizes that the average age of today’s fan is 56 and rising. He feels that does not bode well for a sport competing with football, basketball, hockey, movies, and even video games for the entertainment dollar.

Cal Ripken, Jr. has long been involved with youth baseball

Cal Ripken, Jr. has long been involved with youth baseball

Changing the rules is one way to go, albeit not a good one.

Would Alexander Cartwright recognize the game if each inning started with a man on first? Or if teams had two outs per inning?

Baseball can become a better draw simply by redrawing the way the game is presented.

Want to attract kids? Show more day games — especially the All-Star Game and playoffs that are supposed to be showcase events.

Kids also prefer simplicity. Two leagues with different rules? Ridiculous — dump the DH and satisfy the union by increasing rosters to 26 men all season (and 28 during the first month, as MLB once did).

Restoring the original glory of the game wouldn’t hurt either. Kill the ill-conceived fantasy of interleague play, thus restoring the integrity of the World Series and eliminating the myriad of meaningless contests that interfere with the division title races.

Curt Smith says shorter games would lure younger fans

Curt Smith says shorter games would lure younger fans

Since kids have shorter attention spans, baseball also needs shorter games. As author Curt Smith says, “We can split the atom and send a man to the moon so why can’t we shorten baseball games?”

Better broadcasting of baseball would also help. FOX took a giant step in the right direction this year by replacing Harold Reynolds with John Smoltz on its Saturday Game of the Week. If FOX would also return game time to 1:00 Eastern rather than 4:00, that would help too — people who party on Saturday nights don’t want to wait til after 7:00 for a commercial-infested game to end.

A proper appeal to youth would also mandate the end of the overloaded playoff system. The wild-card was a bad idea that became infinitely worse when a second wild-card was added. True champions are teams that finish with the best records over 162 games. Period, end of story.

Elsewhere in baseball:

In this political season, it is interesting to note that two recent presidents were involved in the game — Ronald Reagan as a broadcaster for Des Moines station WHO and George W. Bush as owner of the Texas Rangers . . .

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy didn’t even wait for camp to open before naming Madison

Madison Bumgarner will start the 2016 opener for San Francisco

Madison Bumgarner will start the 2016 opener for San Francisco

Bumgarner his Opening Day starter . . .

Erstwhile Mets closer Jenrry Mejia says he will appeal his lifetime ban for a third failed drug test . . .

Versatile infielder Juan Uribe had a pretty solid year for the Braves and Mets in 2015 but amazingly found no takers on the free agent market . . .

Wonder how much having Barry Bonds as batting coach will help Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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