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Baseball changes I'd support: Part 2

Here are a couple other changes I think would improve the game.

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In Part 1, I added an Injuries line to the baseball box score. I also edited the save Rule slightly, to provide a bit more accuracy to the "save situation" premise. For my second part, I’m going to adjust the Quality Start statistic, and tweak what’s shown on baseball telecasts.

Baseball fans tend to love "their" stats. Not so much "all" stats, but "their" stats. Some old-timers still dig pitcher wins and RBI. Don't hate, or you prove my point. Others prefer OPS+, which assesses hitters against the league average on the on-base/slugging strata. Some mock that, leaning to ISO+, which measures extra-base ability. I've been around the block enough times to know that nothing "accurately" measures a player. How do you "put a number" on the swim-slide Javier Baez has been perfecting since his Tennessee days? (I think he wanted to get picked off to get some 'in real time' practice' in.) If you remember that statistics are used to help assess a player, instead of put him accurately in an airtight box, we're close on the value of baseball numbers.

The Quality Start is a stat some don't like. They prefer Game Score, as it prioritizes strikeouts. Or whatever else. In my Strat-O-Matic Baseball league, Chicago (comprised of mostly Hall of Famers, with a four-man rotation of Sandy Koufax, Greg Maddux, Clayton Kershaw, and Warren Spahn) is 16-0. In their most recent game, they had a streak end. They finally didn't homer in the game. They did have four triples and three doubles, though, in a 14-1 win over Milwaukee. The starters are 16 for 16 in Quality Starts.

To get a quality start, the starter has to go six innings, at least, and allow no more than three earned runs. Some dog the term over the shortness of six innings, or the inefficiency of a six inning/three run start. I get that.

However, if a starter gives me 17 quality starts out of 21 tries, he’s likely easier on the bullpen than an option that only gets 8 of 21. It's a generality, not an all-encompassing final answer. My edit is small, but significant. You can toss out yours, but if it varies too much, you might want to roll with a new term.

In my view, if the pitcher goes six, and has allowed three or fewer earned, give him the QS. Period. Full stop. If his manager needs two more outs from him, and the intervening inning puts him over three earned, what of it? He did his job. It isn't his fault the manager needed more from him. Give him the notch. In my league, I do. Though, Koufax isn't prone to being needed in the seventh with a bullpen of Lee Smith, Kenley Jansen, Mariano Rivera, John Franco, and Tom Seaver/Whitey Ford as the long relievers. Unless he's tossing a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts.

Poor Milwaukee.


My fourth edit has nothing to do with rules, but how a television broadcast ought to be done, particularly late in games. While some of us are in tune with one specific game from the start, occasionally, we channel surf. Perhaps the Cubs game has concluded, and you get invested in a Padres/Rockies game that's close. It's 5-4 into the seventh, and San Diego goes to the bullpen. There's scads of time, and the reliever tosses eight to the catcher after words of wisdom from the manager. What seems to make sense to me, and almost always has, is to update the bench players in the interim.

Flash a graphic on the screen of all the bench players available for San Diego, perhaps nearly organized into relievers, starters, and bench bats. Highlight (or blink-emphasize) the player incoming for two or three seconds, then remove him from the screen, as he's no longer a bench option. You know what's going on, in real time. Whether at home, or at an adult drinking establishment with the sound muted.

As the catcher tosses the ball to second, the Colorado manager realizes he doesn't like the match-up. After all, the lefty better is a Virgo, and the incoming reliever is a Pisces. Who allows that matchup? He sends in a Taurus to pinch-hit, and the screen comes back. The incoming hitter blinks while he swings the weighted bat with the donut, and as he heads to the plate, you know which players are eligible for each team.

Any lineup move should update and reduce the bench options. The move will seem a bit clangy for three weeks. And, after it becomes second nature, you'll wonder why the networks didn't adopt it years ago. If I actually knew any of the television people, I'd give them the idea.

How would you make a subtle change to the game to make it more easily understood, easily followed, or more transparent? My four ideas don't change the game one iota, but give the fan a better and more accurately detailed assessment of what's going on in the game. Can you make baseball better without pissing off the purists or avant-garde fans? How so?