Baseball


My Way


It'd be like baseball as currently known, except:

equipment


preliminaries


At the same time as batting orders are exchanged, so will be a declaration for each team as to whether it will run the bases clockwise or c.c.w. -- i.e. whether, when that side bats, first base will be down the right or left foul line. The cleats being round (see above), there'll be no need for different ones depending which way that team's runners turn the bases.

order of play


The home team will bat second in odd-numbered innings, first in even-numbered innings. Not only will that reduce the home advantage, it'll also reduce delays.

duration of play


All games 9 innings. If score is even, it's a tie. Every effort would be made to suspend games instead of shortening them after they've become official.

strike zone


This will be the same size for all batters. That will be achieved by a device in the opposite batter's box consisting of a vertical mast with a slidable sleeve with small posts sticking out to indicate the top and bottom of the strike zone. The top and bottom are a fixed distance apart. At the start of the at-bat (or when the batter enters as a substitute in the middle of an at-bat), the batter will adjust it as desired, within certain allowed limits, for overall height. The whole apparatus will be removable from the box so as not to interfere when different-handed batters are up.

pitching


There'll be no mound or rubber. Pitchers will have all the options of baseball, 16-inch softball (mushball), and cricket bowlers, and then some. Any delivery of a ball not in play by any player of the team in the field in the general direction of home plate will be a pitch provided it's done within 20 seconds from directly behind a point within 5 feet of the center of the line between 1st & 3rd base. That means, for instance:

strikes


In addition to the usual rules, a pitch will also be a strike if: However, a swinging or called strike will be called a ball unless the catcher catches the pitched ball in the catcher's box before it (again) hits the ground. (No swinging strike will be allowed on a rolling pitch, although the batter can golf it.)

balls


In addition to the usual (and above) rules, an extra ball will be recorded if: If the batter is hit in the head, 2 extra balls will be given. Hit batsmen will not automatically get 1st base.

walks


A batter will be allowed a base for each 4 balls during an at-bat. The batter may continue to bat after the 4th ball. At any time afterward, except while the ball is in play or a pitch is coming, the batter may take the walk, announcing his/her intention first. If the batter gets 16 balls, the at-bat must end and the batter round the bases. When a batter walks, each runner also will advance that many bases. If the count of balls exceeds goes from 3 to 5 or 6, from 7 to 9 or 10, or from 11 to 13 or 14 due to the batter's being hit by a pitch (see above), the batter taking a walk at that time (only) may credit the excess ball(s) to the next batter.

stealing 1st base


During an at-bat, the batter may attempt to steal 1st base. The batter will be considered a runner between bases as soon as s/he steps on home plate and then off it in the direction of first base. The batter is not forced to go to 1st, and may return home safely and resume the at-bat. The at-bat ends the instant a 3rd strike is made, so a batter can't steal then. Also, regardless of how a batter reached first, running past the base down the line after touching it would not keep the runner safe; the runner would have to stay on base.

base running


A runner off base will be out if touched by the ball anywhere below the neck; the ball need not be held by a fielder. Runners anticipating a fly out will be allowed to start their runs behind their bases, to get a running start when they tag on the sacrifice fly.

time out


This would be allowed only for emergencies.

Comment

The ball's being hollow rubber (lighter than a regulation handball) changes a lot. Batters won't be concerned with being beaned, and penalties for hitting them can be reduced. The absence of laces on the ball, however, doesn't rule out curve balls; quite a bit of action can be put on a Spaldeen. The ball will bounce high even though Astro Turf won't be used. There not being much point in using a heavy bat, bats will be lighter and batters will be able to check their swings more easily -- and they'll need to, with these pitching rules! The long ball will be taken out of the game mostly by the ball itself, but also by the fact that hitting it out of the park will be just a foul ball (note: no foul outs) and a strike, not a homer.

With a Spaldeen, we might as well return to the practice of putting runners out by throwing the ball at them. That being allowed, there'd not be much point in requiring the fielder to hold onto the ball after a tag. And catchers' and batter's helmets and masks can be dispensed with. Notice that I gave the catcher something to do even with no runners on base, by making strikes good.

The only way to balk by these rules would be by failing to pitch in the required time. But pitching would involve lots of options. One possibility I see is taking out a fielder in favor of a second pitcher. The pitchers (maybe a left- and a right- hander) huddle with the ball hidden, both run forward and deliver, and the batter has to figure out where the ball's coming from. The pitchers might release simultaneously, or staggered slightly, the better to catch the batter off balance. However, the intentional walk is a no-go, there being no point to it.

The emphasis overall would be on speed of play, with fewer changes in the field and less time out. Batters could not prolong their time at bat by fouling off balls with 2 strikes.

Comments?