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ESPN's Jayson Stark, with some time on his hands, wonders if baseball can do something (the Bonds rule?) about boring intentional walks. To me, the solution is simple -- put someone more intimidating than Benito Santiago or Jose Cruz Jr. into the on-deck circle.

Stark's Top 20 proposed rule changes are more fun. Some are incredibly dumb, but he gets credit for including one of my pet peeves:

When a 40-foot pop-up lands in the infield between four different men... don't you just hate it when that's scored a (chuckle) "hit?" When a routine fly ball in the alley drops between two outfielders who forgot to call it, doesn't it curdle your blood when the hitter gets a (gasp) "double?" Absurd! If a ball should be caught, it should be caught. And if it isn't, it's an error -- even if it's a "team" error.

Doug "best Canadian GM in Milwaukee" Melvin has some good ideas, but the Designated Fielder isn't one of them. Maybe he's looking ahead to Prince Fielder. And I'd vote to ban Thunder-Stix, air horns, and anything else that contributes to deafness, like the volume of the music at SkyDome.
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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Jurgen Maas - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 12:26 PM EST (#96981) #
I completely agree, Coach. It's distasteful that McGowan blames the "rules" rather than his own ability to address the problem. (Put Manny Ramirez behind Bonds and I guarantee he won't walk 200 times.) Bonds is a once-in-lifetime (unless you were alive in the 40s or 20s, in which case he's a thrice in a lifetime) player. You don't change the rules for one player.

Good to see that Sandy is onside.
_Shane - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 12:41 PM EST (#96982) #
The answer is, it's Brian Sabean's job and the Giants responsibility to put Barry Bonds in positions where he can succeed, not the Rule Books. You pay a guy 13-18 million a year, then to best utilize that investment, you protect him with geezer catcher relics, and 'good chemistry'/'good glove guys'.

"To me, the solution is simple -- put someone more intimidating than Benito Santiago or Jose Cruz Jr. into the on-deck circle."

Thank You.
Dave Till - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 01:54 PM EST (#96983) #
Don Drysdale's solution to the intentional walk problem was to plunk the batter he wanted to put on base. Why use four pitches to get the job done when you can use one?

I don't see the need for any rule changes to change the balance between hitting and pitching, or to ensure that opponents have to pitch to Bonds. The only changes worth making are ones that speed up the game without adversely affecting how it is played. I'd suggest:

1. Limiting when the batter is allowed to step out of the batter's box. Hitters usually step out to throw off the pitcher's timing, not because they've got dirt in their eye.

2. Limiting the number of pickoff throws. (The best way to hold a runner is to vary the elapsed time between reaching the set position and throwing home. You don't need to throw over to do that.)

3. One pitching change per inning, except in case of injury. I've seen four pitchers used in a single inning. Talk about defusing the dramatic tension - oh, look, here comes Jason Kershner to face one batter again! How exciting. Yawn. Are the basketball playoffs still on?

4. Shorten the commercial breaks between half-innings. Baseball doesn't have a lot of advertisers anyway, so why bother with the extra 30 seconds? This will have the pleasant side effect of reducing the number of depressing life insurance ads ("No medical exam! No health questions!").

5. Go back to the 7:05 evening start time. Nobody in Toronto goes home, eats dinner, and then comes back to the ballpark by 7:35 anyway - Toronto's sprawl-based gridlock makes this impossible. And I doubt things are much different in other cities.

6. Strict time limits on mound conferences. When a pitching coach is coming out to visit, he's usually just saying, "Don't give him anything good to hit but don't walk him," and then just waiting for the umpire to come out so that he can chew him out. Mechanical adjustments can wait until the pitcher is back in the dugout. Bringing the pitching coach out in the middle of an inning is like bringing a teaching assistant to your seat in the middle of a final exam. Too late, guys.

7. Find umpires that call the actual strike zone (this has gotten better in the last year). Some umps don't call anything a strike unless it's above the knee and below the belt - in other words, in the batter's preferred hitting zone.

8. Force Steve Trachsel to retire.
Mike D - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 02:07 PM EST (#96984) #
Preaching to the choir here, Coach. You're dead on with intentional walks, and enforcement of "intentional unintentional walks" is a massive nightmare waiting to happen. Even draconian punishment for all four-ball walks has enforcement problems -- would it be good baseball to give Barry *one* pitch in the strike zone per at-bat, and then four pitchouts? By giving him a one-strike floor, you would be certainly also creating a one-strike ceiling.

Your solution, and critique of the Giants' obliviousness to the solution, is exactly right. Batter's Box continues to impress!
Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 02:11 PM EST (#96985) #
I agree with a lot of the suggestions posted. Many people seem to think that baseball should become more like football. I couldn't disagree more.. baseball has become *way* too much like football. Too many specialists, too many tension killing delays in action. Too many four hour games.

I think there's really only two things that need to be done in baseball.

1. Cut down the amount of time between pitches. Do whatever needs to be done.. force batters to stay in the box, call balls on pitchers who take too long.. whatever.. just speed up the pitcher-batter confrontation.

2. Change the rule so a pitcher has to face *2* batters, not just one. As well, a pitcher who enters an inning must face the first 2 batters. This should kill the whole idea of a lefty specialist as long as teams are staggering their line-ups LRLR etc. If this doesn't work, increase it to 3.. but I think *2* should be sufficient.

Those two changes alone should dramatically speed up the pace of the game.

I also like the idea Zumsteg had about clubs encouraging "cheer clubs" awhile back. I think it would be fun to see an entire section called "Hinske's Heroes" of people singing military type songs with the lyrics changed. The main problem with going to the Skydome is all the *forced* cheering.. people responding to bad pop music and signs telling them when to cheer. The Jays should emcourage "super fans" to come to the game by giving these groups reduced ticket prices.

Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 02:14 PM EST (#96986) #
Zumsteg's article can be seen at:
_Steve Z - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 02:44 PM EST (#96987) #
Marty York's latest column covers a lot of bases.
_Shane - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 03:30 PM EST (#96988) #
The Gong Show:

Mike's take on the SkyDome crowds being told when to noiseiate, reminds me of a late night comedy show. The boys in the booth flick the "Applause" sign and everyone goes silly for twenty seconds. Do crowds at the Dome still do The Wave? How about that nifty little Blue Jays song from '85? How did that song go?

The thing I always find funny when Toronto sports fans get ridiculed for being too subdued is, if you looked at who makes up the audience you might have some idea why?

Between all the years watching Jays games on the television, and going to Jays games throughout the years I see the same thing seemingly missing: All the young males have either A) somehow found a Leafs hockey game in July to go to or B) are at war somewhere.

I was at a Jays game a few years ago, and man vacationing from Dallas sat behind me. He asked me where everyone was? He said the crowd looked like a cross between a daycare center and a seniors home.

The Toronto Blue Jays fan base has problems, everyone knows this, but go to games in Boston or New York, or just watch on TV. It's all younger males, in suits, out of suits, together, friends having fun, making plenty of racket. Plus, you don't get crap in the News Papers telling you that fans need players like Orlando Hudson flopping around to get excited about baseball in Toronto. If they put enough goofy birds on the '03 Jersey's maybe that'll turn some of the adolescents into grown paying adults someday. They should use the old Raptors jersey's, you know the one with Barney on it. Barney, Birdie, and O-Dog at a park near you.
Dave Till - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 04:42 PM EST (#96989) #
Two points:

- Toronto sports fans have always been accused of being subdued, even when the Dome was full. (Recall "Winfield Wants Noise".) Some of it might be a cultural thing: Torontonians are famous for not being good at having any fun.

Alison Gordon once wrote a column saying, in effect, that the sound of 40,000 people worrying isn't going to help the Jays any.

- The younger fans are all at the Hangar, cheering on the Raptors and the Leafs. A 15-year-old fan would have been five when the Jays last won anything, and younger than that when the Leafs last truly stunk. (When the Jays were really popular, the Leafs were in the Ballard-era doldrums, and the Raptors didn't exist.)
_jason - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 05:07 PM EST (#96990) #
The only amendment I might make to the Intentional Walk, because I don't believe you should change the rules for one player who won't be playing in ten years, is that instead of throwing those 4 balls to his catcher that the pitcher can signal to the ump an intentional walk and the batter can then proceed to 1st. It might save some time.

Im not sure if I've ever seen a wild pitch or a stolen base come from an intentional walk. Anybody else?
Coach - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 08:54 PM EST (#96991) #
Robbie Alomar would steal third, on the second or third pitch of intentional walks, when he was in the mood. Drysdale would have plunked him next time up, though. Wild pitches are rare, but I've seen a few. A passed ball would be embarrassing.

Mike M., thanks for the Zumsteg piece; hadn't seen it before. Love the Obey-O-Tron.
Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 09:45 PM EST (#96992) #
Coach: Glad you liked the article.. I think it's the best idea Zumsteg has come up with.

So can anyone think of any cheer clubs for Jays players? I think Hinske's Heroes would be a good one.

How about the Wood Pile for Chris?

_Sean - Wednesday, February 05 2003 @ 11:41 PM EST (#96993) #
Heh. I'd rather call it the Shed.
_Wayne H. - Thursday, February 06 2003 @ 04:41 AM EST (#96994) #
As for eliminating the "four wide ones" intentional walk, it is often suggested that it would be quicker, to simply send the batter to first base. Since all games do not have an intentional walk, the point is moot in many games, as there are no potential "speed ups" available in that manner. As for wild pitches, there have been some thrown "just a wee bit too far outside", and all the way to the backstop. A catcher can cause a balk during an intentional pass, by leaping out to catch a wide one, too quickly as well.

Intentional walks can be changed back to regular at-bats. In one World Series, Johnny Bench was receiving an intentional walk, with two strikes. It was decided to "put him on", rather than continue to pitch to him. Bench was crossed up, when the anticipated outside pitch, went right down the heart of the plate for strike three. In other variations on the same theme, Rod Carew would often wave at a ball, to force the pitcher to throw strikes, rather than accept the intentional pass! Now, would Barry Bonds do that?
Coach - Thursday, February 06 2003 @ 09:22 AM EST (#96995) #
Wood Shed: The carpenter look.

Hinske's Horde: Wisconsin, the whole Nordic thing, Viking helmets...

Doc's Scrubs. Duh.

Sign me up for the horns on the days Halladay doesn't pitch; I'd join those two by any name. Down with the Obey-O-Tron, easy on the recorded volumes, sell the steak not the sizzle, and people will make enough noise.

If we don't get paid for these suggestions, whoever sells the costumes should at least sponsor Batter's Box. Rogers owns many things, one of which we're incidentally promoting here, and I happen to be one of their customers, who recommends them to my corporate clients. Hey, here's an idea -- how about an ad for that cool High Speed Internet service of theirs? Adjusting my bill and slipping in Extra Innings would also be nice, and I hope our seats on Batter's Box night are in a decent section.
_Harry Heatherin - Thursday, February 06 2003 @ 01:11 PM EST (#96996) #
I HAVE seen a wild pitch on an intentional walk ... don't remember exactly when (late 80's, I think) and I'm pretty sure it was the Jays against the Mariners, and with a runner on third, the wild pitch scored either the tying or winning run for the Jays. I remember yelling at the TV: "*2###, that's something you don't see every day!".

Or did I dream it?

- Mandy.
_rodent - Thursday, February 06 2003 @ 02:09 PM EST (#96997) #
Jason: Coach would remember the details, but I recall Gino Petralli when he was a Ranger reaching out and knocking an incautiously close "intentional" for a base hit. Off a Jays pitcher? Clancy?
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