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Lookout Landing’s proposed rule changes for MLB

Your move now, Commissioner Manfred

Houston Astros v Miami Marlins
This piece isn't about the Marlins, but nothing makes me think baseball chaos like this majestic monstrosity at Marlins Park
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

I love chaos in sports. The truly unexpected moments, the bizarre decision-making, the times that momentarily distract you from the game to go online and search just how often something like that has happened. Baseball is comforting in its tradition but, after one hundred-plus years, maybe it’s time to change things up a bit. Commissioner Rob Manfred created an internet flurry recently when he mentioned proposed changes to the strike zone, and placing a runner at second at the start of each extra inning, but we here at Lookout Landing believe Manfred’s thinking a bit too small. If we’re going to change America’s Favorite Pastime we might as well go all in; here are some suggestions from the staff.

Zach Milkis

The All-Star break is expanded to include an All-Division All-Star tournament. The best players from each division are assembled into mini all-star teams that square off in a six team bracket. Six divisions enter; one division survives. To up the ante, the winning division earns an automatic wild card bid for its second place finisher, regardless of record.

Andrew Rice

Serious rule: MLB should make it against the rules for stadiums to have bullpens located in the field of play. (I have mentioned this before on LL and I will complain about it until the end of time.) That shit is tacky and unsafe and pleasssssse stop referring to AT&T Park as the best stadium in MLB; it has god damned booby traps down each foul line.

Super-duper serious rule #1: Teams should be allowed to employ an infield shift only if they replace their shortstop with their team mascot.

Super-duper serious rule #2: Make it legal for players to run outside of the baselines to try and avoid tags. Ingenuity focuses on thinking outside of the box and the best way to think outside of the box is to do away with straight lines (duh).

Super-duper serious rule #3: Instead of needing to tag a runner out, fielders should be allowed to throw the ball at any runner who is not standing on a base. This could make it easier to record outs (fielders have the opportunity to retire a runner from further away), but the risk of award an extra base on an overthrow also increases. A good rule of thumb: anything that works well in kickball would almost certainly make baseball more entertaining.

Kate Preusser

My ideas aren't so much rule changes as they are slight modifications to the overall game experience. The time will fly right by!

Real Americans recline their seats and hate walking. All stadium seats are cleared out and replaced with Wall-E-style hoverchairs, handed out at the entrance gates.

Before each game, umpires choose a secret word. Any player heard uttering the secret word is dismissed from the game and must be replaced with a bench player. If the team runs out of bench players, players may re-enter the game, but position players can only pitch and pitchers must play a position.

In order to capture the rapidly decreasing youth demographic, seventh inning stretch replaced by YouTube videos of makeup tutorials and video game play-throughs.

One out of every ten balls is loaded with a mild explosive set to detonate after a certain number of rotations. Side effect: Jered Weaver enjoys a career renaissance.

No more extra innings: instead, games are decided by a dizzy bat runoff between opposing fans. If no one scores by the end of one inning, the game is decided by a manager-vs-manager leg wrestling contest.

John Trupin

Teams must fully embrace the theme of their mascot and incorporate it into their uniforms and stadium design. Every stadium has always been allowed to have its own dimensions, so they might as well be allowed to have slightly different rules as well. The Mariners do not have to all wear full sailor attire, but Leonys Martín certainly does as he patrols the new "aquatic warning track" that extends 50 feet inwards from the wall and spans from foul pole to foul pole at the helm of a state-of-the-art speedboat. Good luck catching any potential base-stealers in Cincinnati when the Reds play at home in their fully crimson stadium, with red uniforms, walls, seats, and body paint (mandatory for players and fans). Celiac sufferers beware of any game in Milwaukee, as a mandatory shotgunning of Milwaukee's Best awaits you at every base before you can proceed. Carlos Correa and George Springer have plenty of power already, but when the Astros kick in their zero-gravity field, the ball is going to really blast off. The Padres have to acquire Seth Smith and unretire Mike Sweeney and pray things get better. The possibilities are endless, and the themes can be switched each season. Ball's in your court, Mariners PR, or should I say pool?

Zach Gottschalk

With the advent of still more advanced metrics, such as pitch spin rate, teams seem to be creeping ever closer toward pinning down the underlying reasons for a player's success. How can we make baseball even more fun while simultaneously making nerds' lives more difficult? First, let's make the spit ball legal again! Of course, we can't have pitchers throwing spitballs exclusively. That would be both boring and somewhat gross. A far less gross solution is to give each team about 50 milliliters of saliva (produced, perhaps, by the voluptuous salivary glands of Joe West) to use as they will. The only possible downside that I can anticipate is that attempting to catch a foul ball will feel somewhat risky. Lest this change reduce scoring numbers across the league, teams will be given one bat doctored with pine tar, which any player may use until it shatters. Not only will these rules achieve their intended purpose of making baseball quantifiably more fun, we will no longer have to be subjected to the same "Is it okay to call out a player for using pine tar?" story line that seems to spring up at least once per year.

Grant Bronsdon

1. For every out that a starting position player (hereby defined as a player in the starting lineup other than the starting pitcher) records as a pitcher, his team gets one additional base. So, for example, if Jesus Sucre records two outs on the mound, the Mariners/Rays would start the next inning with a player on second base; if he recorded all three outs in an inning, they would start with a runner on third.

2. Each team gets two at-bats in a game during which they can add an additional defensive player (the “Permanent Defender”) in the field. If only one Permanent Defender clause has been used prior to the ninth inning, however, then the team loses the other clause. Thus, teams effectively have the following choice: use both Permanent Defenders in innings 1-8, or wait to use one Permanent Defender in a high-leverage situation in the ninth.

Amanda Lane

1. All players must wear their socks up. This is a purely aesthetic change, but baseball should entice each of the senses.

2. Each team is given the ability to interfere in a defensive play once a game. For example, on a fly ball hit to the outfield the batting team could push a button to release a flock of birds into the outfield to confuse the fielder. A sure double play grounder could be thwarted by the sudden appearance of divots in the infield dirt at the push of a button. Like a closer, this tactic would likely be used late in the game, adding a squeeze of drama and splash of anticipation.

3. Any player committing a TOOTBLAN will wear a scarlet T on their jersey for the rest of the game. Following the game, the T will be auctioned off and the proceeds will benefit early childhood education.

4. Once a season baseball will have an Opposite Day. The bases will be run the opposite direction, outfielders will play infield, catchers will pitch, and the game will start in the 9th. Hilarity will ensue. A win on Opposite Day will be worth 3 normal wins. (I realize it should worth a loss in the spirit of opposites, but that's counter productive.)

*Bonus rule: Bring Bill Veeck back from the dead and clone one for each team. The clones would need to be given explicit instructions to stay away from any sort of Demolition Night, and having a small person bat as a joke wouldn't be well received these days.

Isabelle Minasian

My idea is simple: if a game goes into the twelfth inning, the roles are all reversed. Only position players are allowed to pitch, and only pitchers are permitted to hit; this includes members of the bullpen, and members of the starting rotation. By the time two teams have battled into the twelfth inning the excitement of extra innings has largely dissipated for the audience, and this would add a much-needed injection of entertainment and levity to the game. Plus this new rule would open up a new, and exciting, niche market for players like Jesús Sucre, Luis Sardiñas, and Madison Bumgarner. In the cruel event of a game lasting into the fifteenth inning (ahem, Tigers and Mariners), members of the front office, and coaching staff, must be called upon to hit.

So what’s a rule change you would propose? If we like the idea enough we may even add it to our box of suggestions for Commissioner Manfred, because everyone knows if you send things in boxes they're guaranteed to be opened.