‘Bout time for national pastime to get offensive

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Ugh.

After that, baseball decided to level the offensive playing field.

Before the ‘69 season, baseball tightened up the strike zone and lowered the pitching mound from 15 to 10 inches. Might be time for a similar step. Lower the mound to 8 inches and see what happens.

Let’s not stop there:

_ Shrink pitching staffs. Ten used to be the traditional size of a pitching staff, and some teams carried as few as nine. Now, virtually every team has a dozen pitchers on its 25-man roster. Starters need last no more than six innings before they turn things over to the bullpen. With some teams, the game is essentially over at that point if they have a lead. Even if they’re not tired, the starter hands off to three guys with closer-like stuff, each of whom is required to get three measly outs. So let’s limit teams to no more than 11 pitchers on a roster, removing a bit of a manager’s flexibility.

_ Have a two-batter minimum. These bloated staffs also include specialists who often face no more than one hitter. Perhaps it’s a lefty who’s tough on left-handed hitters. Or a sinkerballer who’s called in with runners aboard because he’s good at keeping the ball on the ground, thus making it more likely he’ll set up a double play. Smaller staffs will make it harder to carry those sort of pitchers, but let’s go an additional step to guard against such gerrymandering: Require relievers to face at least two hitters when they come into the game.

_ Develop a livelier ball. There’s always been speculation the balls were jacked up during the homer-happy ‘90s, put into play to help the game regain its popularity after a devastating strike wiped out the 1994 World Series. We have no idea if that’s true, but they’ve clearly developed golf balls that travel farther than they used to. Maybe they can do the same with a baseball.

Those simple steps would juice up the game _ without aluminum bats or having to fret about an embarrassing trial somewhere down the road.

Now, let’s play ball!

___

Paul Newberry is a national sports writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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