Editor's note: We presented our writers' game-changing ideas on Tuesday. Now we unveil the best proposals from you, our readers. And on Thursday, in the series finale, Jayson Stark will share feedback on all proposals -- yours included -- from various people around the game.
Major League Baseball, are you listening? ESPN.com's readers have spoken, and here's what they had to say about speeding up play, the designated hitter, instant replay and realignment, among other things:
Expand instant replay
Instant replay on any close play. Understanding the game may be longer due to this, the strike zone needs to be more leniant.
Expand and implement true INSTANT replay. Have a major league umpire in the press box (creating more umpire jobs so they will sign on), who has a television just like the rest of the world. He reviews all close calls at any base, fair or foul, catch or no catch. Almost anything but balls and strikes. There will be no managers coming out screaming, no confabs in the infield, no umpires disappearing down a tunnel while we wait for the inevitable call. The review umpire corrects the call whenever there is a dispute. A dispute is created when a player requests an appeal, just like a catcher appealing to the umpire down at first or third. This idea would speed up the game, get the calls right in the interest of fairness, and the umpires would agree to the change.
--Patrick OKennedy (Orange County, Calif.)
First run to third, second run to second
If you really want a radical change, allow the batter/runner to choose which direction he runs in to start an inning. So a batter/runner could choose to run to first or third base, making which ever base he chose "first base" all batter/runners would then have to follow his path around the bases until they are cleared at which point the next batter/runner can choose his own path. This would force defenders to be better athletes as you would need to turn two both ways, be able to play third and first base at the same time and you would no longer be able to hide weak arms in left field. Would need to start changing the game young but could make it much more action packed and high paced.
--CJ (San Francisco)
C'mon, hurry up!
Here is one that may sound stupid at first, but think about it.
NFL has a play clock, NBA has a shot clock, why not a pitch clock? Once the pitcher has the ball (on the mound or not), he has 15 seconds to pitch or try to pick-off a runner. Penalty, automatic ball. One clock behind home plate, one in center field for the home plate ump to see.
Let the manager call IBBs from the dugout -- no pitches thrown. Not sure if this is "radical" or just common sense. Sure, you'll lose the occasional blooper highlight when a pitcher unloads a wild pitch while trying to miss the strike zone, but those are too rare to matter. It speeds up the game and reduces boredom by fans -- watching a major league pitcher lob the baseball towards home plate at 40 mph just lacks excitement.
--Dave Levenhagen (Shawnee, Kan.)
Simple -- eliminate stepping out of batters box every pitch. Our grandfather's game needs to be our kids' game too
--Ryan Clark (@RyanClarkS)
How about not letting relievers warm up after they've been called in to pitch. What have they been doing in the 'pen this whole time?
--Branden Strot (Minnesota)
Instead of having games go to 15+ innings and waiting around on a school night for kids. When the game reaches 15 innings, take your home run hitters [on] your team and have a home run derby.
--Aaron Alvarado (Washington)
Limit games to 11 innings (except in the playoffs or All-Star game). If the score is still tied after 11 innings, declare it a tie. Teams would receive credit for a tie in the standings, just like they do in hockey, soccer, etc.
--Matt Hull (Glendive, Mont.)
Here is a game changer for ya
Limit extra-innings games to 10 innings in the regular season -- at which point each inning thereafter each team starts with 1 out, a 1 and 1 count on the batters and a runner at 2nd base. Basically it becomes sudden death baseball and speeds up the ridiculously-long 18-inning, 6-hour games.
Regional realignment. Divisions would go as follows: California Division (Giants, Padres, Angels, Dodgers, As) The other Western Division (Mariners, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Astros) Mid-West Division (Royals, Cards, White Sox, Cubs, Twins) Great Lakes Division (Brewers, Blue Jays, Reds, Indians, Tigers) Eastern Division (Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Marlins, Rays) Far East Division (Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox, Mets Yankees).
--Cooper Self (Topeka, Kan.)
Setup the divisions based on revenue/spending. Teams compete to win their markets
then have playoffs.
--Mat Kovach (@siddfinch)
Play by the visiting teams' league rules during interleague play, so fans can see a different game.
When starting pitcher leaves game, u MUST pinch-hit for the DH.
--Andrew Milner (@Andrew_Milner)
The designated hitter should be in both leagues, not just the American League. Every level of baseball past high school -- including recreational leagues -- has a designated hitter. Pitchers rarely, if ever, bat in college or in summer leagues like the Cape Cod League. In fact, some recreational leagues even have an extra hitter that makes for a 10-man lineup.
--Phil Kasiecki (Stoughton, Mass.)
Baseball needs to get rid of the designated hitter. Congratulations, you can swing a bat and then sit down for the next three innings. That doesn't make you a baseball player or an athlete. If you can run around the outfield or at minimum job three steps to your left to catch a ball at first then you have no business being on the field.
--Paul (Foster City, Calif.)
[D]ouble headers every other Saturday, maybe once a month (to make it an event) have a double header for every team on a Saturday and the week before or the week after have two days off for every team, like Monday and Tuesday. I do not have a problem with the game time because i am a diehard baseball fan but to make the game shorter the broadcast needs to be speedier with less commercials. The play is not bad it is the broadcasts that make it long. The smaller markets have shorter games because they are not nationally televised.
Like the idea of doubleheaders. Instead of everyother Saturday, have 2 required doubleheaders against teams within your own division. So, for example the Cardinals would play a doubleheader against the Cubs in Chicago, and one in St. Louis. That would knock out 10 dates off the end of the season.
-- Joe Patrico (Hot Springs, Ark.)
Expand the Rosters and allow for position palyers and pitchers to reenter game at any time in the same spot in the lineup. This would allow for more players/pitchers to be involved situationally. We would get to see more prospects Pitchers and hitters get MLB time situationally before they normally would. It may even help propel younger stars into the game earlier. Imagine being able to bring up your top hitting prospect to pinch hit in any situation during a game without the pressure of losing your starting player for the game? Or using a relief pitcher in the second inning to get a tough lefty out and bringing your starter back in to finish the game?
Increase the MLB active 25-man roster to 26 to accomodate an extra SP; allow for 6-man rotations and decrease SP injuries.
--Rob Hodges (Tallahassee, Fla.)
I have a bit of a twist on the expanded rosters. Still allow roster expansion in September, but teams can only dress 25 for games, kind of like they do in hockey. That way if you want to rest a veteran player or if a reliever has pitched a lot, you can "scratch" them for a game or two and have someone replace them on the active roster, without having to place them on the DL. If teams wanted to, they could still load up their benches and bullpens by scratching a starting pitcher not slated to pitch that day, but it would at least put some limits in place so teams couldn't have 15-man bullpens and 10-man benches during a playoff race. Young players could still get a taste of the major leagues and older players could get some rest, but the rules would remain constant throughout the entire season and not change in September.
--Kris Foulke (Warminster, Pa.)
World Series at a neutral site
Have MLB build and own a stadium in a non-MLB warm weather city -- say San Antonio or Las Vegas. Use that stadium for all World Series events. This makes the WS a destination event, shortens the series to 7 consecutive days because you don't need travel days, effectively eliminates rainouts, makes the WS more competitive by making each team use more of its starting staff, etc. Use the same facility to host the World Baseball Classic. Use the facility to host concerts and other events to generate additional reveue, use the revenue to build inner-city ballparks around the country to be used by kids (i.e., create the next generation of baseball players and fans).
I think that the thing that would have the biggest impact on the changing of and speeding up of the baseball games would be to have the umpires call the strike zone the way it is described in the rule book. All of the rules within the sport are followed by how they written within the rules, except for this one. I think that the result of this would be the batters swinging at more pitches which based on the averages would create faster outs. Also, with the increased emphasis on pitch count, this should decrease the need for pitching changes or at least get the starter deeper into the game before he is taken out.
--Brian Elwood (Apple Valley, Minn.)
Money, money, money
Hard salary cap and floor or at least a luxury tax that is not really a joke, better/more equitable revenue sharing, and the craziest of all, curbing ticket prices to pay crazy money to owners and players.
--Shane (Rochester, N.Y.)
— Anthony Rivera (@AnthonyOlajuwon) January 24, 2012