The Reimagining of a Game of Baseball

On Friday night, I had a crazy thought. Over the last few days, I’ve kind of fallen in love with this crazy thought, and the two people I’ve shared it with kind of loved it too. Though they were drinking at the time I shared it with them, so now I’m going to present it to a group of (probably) sober readers, and see if my crazy thought maybe isn’t so crazy.

A baseball game is nine innings, and occasionally more. Okay, rain makes it so that it can also last fewer than nine innings as well, but outside of weather problems forcing an early end, baseball games are nine inning affairs, with the availability of extras if needed. This is the sport we all know and love. But maybe there’s a different version of a baseball game that could be just as great. Or maybe even better.

Here’s my crazy idea for Baseball 2.0.

Instead of one nine inning game, each day’s contest will consist of a set of three games, each lasting three innings apiece. The games would be played consecutively, so that a day at the park would still consist of each team being allotted 27 outs; they would just be broken into a set of three distinct contests, rather than being the sum of one single event.

While each set of games would see one team “win” and “lose” the day — either 2-1 or 3-0 — and thus move up or down in the standings from where they were when the day began, each individual game would count. While the set of games-within-a-match structure already exists in sports like tennis, this would not be a series of contests to determine the day’s winner or loser, but a set of games that all count individually, regardless of the outcome of the other games on that same day.

Each game would be almost entirely self-contained. Line-ups would reset, so the leadoff hitter would bat first in each of the three contests, regardless of the point in the batting order where the previous game ended. The score at the end of one game would have no bearing on the next. The games would be independent, with just a few exceptions:

1. In the event of a tie at the end of the three innings, the outcome of that game is then determined by the outcome of the subsequent game, so the next contest would count as two wins for the victor. If both of the first two games ended in a tie, then the final three inning contest would be a winner-take-all affair, with the team that finally ended a game with a lead taking all three of the game’s wins for the day. The last of the three games could not result in a tie, but would go into extra innings to determine the winner of the three games if need be.

2. Pitchers who are removed from a game would not be allowed to re-enter any subsequent game on that day. A pitcher may pitch in multiple games if he is the last pitcher on the mound in one game and the first pitcher on the mound in the next. Once a pitcher is relieved, he is done for the day. This rule does not apply to position players, who can be removed during any game while maintaining their eligibility to play in all future games, even when the outcome of an earlier game resulted in a tie, and the credit for that game has been transferred to a later game. Once a position player has been removed from a game, he is ineligible to return to that specific game, but his eligibility is restored at the beginning of the next three inning contest.

This would, in essence, be the equivalent of taking the current structure, only starting every game as if it were a 0-0 game heading into the top of the 7th inning. By only playing the final three innings, low leverage innings are reduced to a bare minimum, as even an early blowout would simply be over in an hour or so, with a 0-0 score and a victory once again up for grabs not long after the blowout commenced. Nearly every inning would become extremely important, and there would no longer be an incentive to leave a game (or change the channel) halfway through.

Currently, the 27-out MLB game creates 38 plate appearances and 4.2 runs per contest for each team; if we just broke that down into thirds, you’d be looking at roughly 13 plate appearances and 1.4 runs per game on each side. Every run would become vitally important, and likely, these numbers would go down a bit further as teams adjusted the way they deployed their talent in order to maximize individual game wins. And the resulting strategies would be fascinating.

Would teams continue to preserve their best relievers to try and win the final game of the day, knowing that the last game would often count for two or three victories? Or would they throw away the entire starter/reliever dynamic, turning to pitching staffs full of multi-inning specialists who could both finish one contest and then stick around to start another? Would they continue to roster situational specialists, knowing that using them to get one batter out in one game would do nothing to help their chances of winning the other two equally important games?

Maybe the most interesting question is how to best use a true top tier pitcher, like a Clayton Kershaw or a Jose Fernandez. You could simply continue to use them in the same role they’re used now, taking the ball at the beginning of the night and pitching until they’re no longer effective, which might very well get you through the first two games and into the third, saving all of your relievers for that final contest. But, maybe it would be better to hold that kind of pitcher until the second or third inning, allowing them to enter when a lead needs protecting and then potentially pitching all the way through the end of the final game. If no lead is ever created in game one, you’ve managed to reduce their workload while still also having them available for the entirety of games two and three. Given the higher leverage nature of each inning, maybe asking even the best pitchers to go more than six would be too much, and the best way to get six innings from an elite pitcher would be to pitch innings 3 through 8?

Batting orders would become far more important as well, as the gap in plate appearances between the hitters at the tom and bottom of the line-up would increase, thanks to the line-ups turning over every three innings. Teams would be incentivized to place their best hitters as high as possible, and more at-bats in each game would go to players who could really hit, with fewer going to defensive specialists who simply are around because of their fielding. In fact, maybe those guys would become even more valuable, as they would often only hit once per game, and if it was a particularly important at-bat, they could be pinch-hit for without losing their fielding value for the next two games. Pinch-hitters would become extremely valuable, as they could potentially replace a weak-hitting shortstop three times in a single day.

Pretty much everything we know about the sport would change as a result. It would be a different game, essentially, which is why we’ll never see this happen in the Major Leagues, where the history of the game is one of the great selling points. Records would cease to have meaning, and the numbers used to measure player performance would have to change dramatically. In regular season MLB games, this is almost certainly a non-starter.

But in the post-season? The playoffs have been tweaked a lot over the years, and playoff records are hardly sacrosanct. Maybe we don’t want October baseball to look so radically different from April-September baseball, but then again, we already have so many off days that roster construction and player usage is significantly altered from what teams do for the first 162 games. This would be a more radical departure, but the constant drama of every at-bat actually having a huge impact would be amazing.

But even that is probably a stretch. Perhaps the real home for an idea like this is in exhibition tournaments like the Olympics or the WBC. This kind of structure could make that kind of tournament something unto itself and help assuage many of the issues that come with professional teams entrusting the health of their assets to a third party, as it would be far easier to limit pitcher usage in this kind of context.

Maybe this idea is too radical. Maybe the resulting sport would be too different, not much of a departure from what we’ve all grown to know and love. But I will say that the idea of converting nearly every inning into a high-leverage affair has some real appeal. Baseball is great, but even I tune out when one team is up 9-2 in the fourth inning. A series of rapid-fire, low-scoring, high-energy contests? Maybe it’s crazy, but it sounds kind of amazing to me.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

174 Responses to “The Reimagining of a Game of Baseball”

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  1. Nifty says:

    This is a horrendous idea. Note: I am sober.

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    • Dusty Baker says:

      It’s a TERRIBLE idea! If you only have 3 innings, how can a starting pitcher ever get a win?

      That would take Wins and make it useless. And you geeks are supposed to be all about the stats!

      +60 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Pirates Hurdles says:

      Yeah, gotta go with horrendous as well. I don’t see any benefit to this type of change other than it would completely different. The game has lasted 120 years as structured and this would be an artificial attempt to get the best players more at bats and totally change pitching leverage. The NBA Jam of baseball.

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      • atoms says:

        Yeah, but NBA Jam was fun! Actually, that is actually probably the exact right comparison, because if Dave ever *really* wants this vision to come to fruition, it’ll most likely have to be through a video game.

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        • Pirates Hurdles says:

          True, it was very fun, certainly more of a side game than MLB, maybe a small league like Arena ball, but I’m still don’t think it adds enough to be worth it.

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    • GilaMonster says:

      This is a horrendous idea. Note: I’m not sober.

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    • Eric says:

      So let me get this straight – 3 games a day of 3 innings each. So a season is 60 days with normal time off and the all star game. 2 months? 2 1/2 months with playoffs. Is preseason condensed too? What the hello would a do with my life for 4-5 months every year if you did this? Man, fangraphs would have to write its articles A LOT quicker at 45 games a day to cover.

      DAVE CAMERON you better type fast.

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    • Ned Yost says:

      How about rules that create more bunting and intentional walks?

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  2. Stank Asten says:

    They’ll still charge the same price per game.

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  3. Stank Asten says:

    Interesting idea, though.

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  4. Steve says:

    You don’t think casual fans have enough trouble understanding the game already?

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    • bdhudson says:

      I don’t know that casual fans understood the transfer rule issue, either, but that didn’t make it any less important.

      This is an interesting idea, but I don’t know how much I would like it. You mention the history, and for me one of the fun things about baseball is comparing historical seasons, which you would no longer be able to do. If we were starting a new game from scratch, I think this would be a cool way to do it, though.

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  5. dragbunter says:

    Dave, I had this same idea when the Phillies had that rain delayed game in the World Series a few years ago. They restarted it in the middle of the game and it was fascinating to watch. The strategies changed and every baserunner mattered so much more. You’d see more risks taken for sure. You’ve got my vote. (also sober)

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    • JKB says:

      Except the Rays, who play half their games in an indoor stadium, had no idea what to do with all that water falling out of the sky on them in Philly.

      Regarding the 3 game / day idea, imagine if a pitcher won three complete games in a day. We could bring the hat trick to baseball!

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  6. louielips3 says:

    I don’t think this would work. What if a team won the first 2 games? Does everybody go home? You could lose a ton of viewership from people who try to catch the later innings now only to find out the game was over 60 minutes ago.

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    • Bearman says:

      They would still play the last game because its it own separate affair, he says this in the article.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      The third game would be just as meaningful as the first 2. All 3 count in the standings.

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      • louielips3 says:

        I guess I misread that part. I didn’t think he was suggesting a 486 game season.

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        • Jason B says:

          Teddy Ballgame’s 56-game hitting streak would certainly never be touched.

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        • murphyluke says:

          I find the negative reactions to this idea in many of the comments to be really funny considering that the current 9-inning format is completely arbitrary.

          This would be really fun, but it would be in many ways a very different game. Is it better than the current setup? I don’t know. It might be, but MLB has way much tradition to ever make a change as drastic as this. I would LOVE to see this done in the WBC.

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        • Jay29 says:

          @Jason B

          Yeah, you’d basically have to go something like 56 for 80 assuming you batted high in the lineup.

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        • murphyluke says:

          @JasonB No! Joe Dimaggio!

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        • Eric says:

          Really? Are you kidding me? The 56 game hitting streak was put together by Joe DiMaggio, NOT Ted Williams.

          In the immortal words of Harry Caray -HOLY COW! And you got 5 positive comments for this? sheesh

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  7. El Duderino says:

    I really dislike this idea. Sure the low leverage innings that feel like they drag on forever would be non-existent, but how often do we really see that? I mean, in any given game, the 5th inning could be as crucial as the 1st or the 7th. You’d see so many 0-0 ties that it just wouldn’t be that entertaining. The established 9 innings gives teams enough time to come back or blow the lead while 3 would often mean that the first team to score would be declared the winner.

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    • ElJosharino says:

      Yeah, I agree with this. A WPA graph that looks like /\/ (ie back and forth game, very exciting) becomes three smaller WPA graphs that are just /, \, / (three blowouts, not very exciting at all)

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      • James says:

        “you’d be looking at roughly 13 plate appearances and 1.4 runs per game on each side”

        I hate those 1-0 blowouts!!

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        • TheUncool says:

          1.4 R/game is just the mean though. It doesn’t tell us the actual (or likely) distribution…

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  8. Bearman says:

    If this reimagining were placed on any other sport (ie soccer, hockey, etc) it would just be three little games. With baseball though there are so many more moving parts. That’s what I love about this game.

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  9. JLuman says:

    I like it. Might also be a way to make minor league games more exciting, engaging and useful for player evaluation.

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  10. JohnSwagener says:

    Interesting idea. The problem is, there are already 162 games in the regular season so many people argue that individual games really don’t mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. Tripling the amount of games that would be played in a season would make each 3 inning affair more or less meaningless over the course of a 400+ game season

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Doug Lampert says:

      Yeah, you’ve eliminated the low leverage innings, at the cost of creating more low/no leverage games.

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      • TheUncool says:

        Agreed… although that aspect would probably work out well for exhibition type tournaments where there really aren’t enough games to yield anything all that meaningful. Might also work for the playoffs, except it’d still be so drastically different from the regular season…

        Maybe they should try it in little league first, if anyone’s serious at all about it, since they already go w/ less than 9, ie. 6, have a mercy rule that can end the game early, and also run an annual, exhibition style, worldwide tournament.

        Of course, many parents may balk that their non-star kids don’t get to play enough in that case…

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  11. JohnSwagener says:

    This is an idea that international baseball may benefit from. I think it’d be interesting to see the WBC take this into consideration, as it would help keep players healthy and add a different strategy to an already strategy based game.

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  12. vivalajeter says:

    Here’s the way I see it. If you’re dating someone who’s no great shakes, then you might be able to find a dozen ways to improve her. Some of them might even be pretty drastic, like losing 40 pounds or going up more than one cup size. If you’re dating Jessica Biel, big changes are unnecessary. If you squint hard enough, you might be able to find a couple of small tweaks that would cause a slight improvement, but overall you’re just going to wake up every morning and thank god at how lucky you are. As baseball fans, we’re essentially dating Jessica Biel in this scenario.

    +21 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      The irony of vivalajeter posting about being content with Jessica Biel….

      +27 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • vivalajeter says:

        Well said. I hadn’t thought of that. I was going to use Yvonne Strahovski, but didn’t think enough people would know who she was. In retrospect, I probably should’ve used Scarlett Johansson.

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    • David says:

      I think the idea that baseball is perfect just the way it is and doesn’t need any changes is a bad one that leads to inaction over things like rampant steroid use (the fallout of which worsened by MLB’s other major flaw: sanctimonious nostalgia), being over a decade late to instant replay, and the looming death of a pitcher that just might get them to think about maybe talking about implementing more player safety features a few seasons after the unfortunate tragedy.

      I don’t think it needs any kind of dramatic overhaul. Baseball isn’t perfect, but it’s okay to love something that’s imperfect while thinking about how it can improve.

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  13. Los says:

    But which pitchers get the wins and saves??????????????????

    +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • I don't care what anyone says:

      The save goes to a guy who enters in the top of the third inning with a lead of 3 or fewer runs and doesn’t blow it.

      After that it gets tricky:

      Win – pitcher who started in the previous game and pitched 2 or more innings in this game, which his team won. Otherwise, selected by a BBWAA Gold Glove voting team member designated for this.

      Loss – pitcher on losing team. If more than one pitcher, the one with the lowest GRIT score takes the loss.

      Tie – goes to the runner.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Adam says:

    The only way this could work is if you started your own league similar to what the Arena Football League was to the NFL. It’d be a different version of baseball that could find a niche market to start off, but could eventually gain popularity and take off financially. Of course you would have to use players that no other baseball league wanted.

    +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • vivalajeter says:

      Get Jose Canseco’s agent on the phone ASAP!

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • d_i says:

      My thoughts as well. If I were starting a league from scratch, I could get behind this type of structure, but comparison between years and the records (though lots of variables already baked into those ie balls, mound height, etc) are too important for the existing game.

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    • tz says:

      Totally agree on all counts.

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    • Roger says:

      My thoughts exactly, and you might want to start by testing it on a local scale with a collection of decent amateurs to get some feedback and tweak it before you invest much money in creating a professional product. Then maybe you can take over an independent league to avoid some of the logistics of getting stadiums, etc. Leverage that into a TV deal with an RSN, and you have a financial foothold to begin to raise your profile and get better players.

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      • Guy who watched people play poker before hole-card cameras were invented says:

        Well that wouldn’t be very interesting television!

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  15. olethros says:

    I like it, if applied to non-MLB situations. For MLB, never.

    Sober, but severely sleep deprived.

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  16. Kenny says:

    It’s interesting. I was at the game the A’s led 7-0 after two yesterday (and won 9-1), and it was a little boring. And of course lots of folks left after 7, and my wife wishes we did. For all that, my reaction, and the prevalent reaction of the A’s fans I know (personally or on twitter) was “at last, a stress-free game. It’s been a while.” Hanging out in the sun was nice.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Yeah, it was a whole two days since the A’s did essentially the same thing to the Nationals (okay, they waited until the fourth to build a 4-run lead in that one, but still: not stressful).

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  17. Edwin says:

    Not bad, but I think it would interrupt the normal flow of a baseball game too much, at least for my taste. I’d rather see more of a focus on the overall pace of a game. Instead of creating more high leverage situations, I’d like to see the focus on limiting dead time such as when batters step out of the batters box, Catchers making multiple mound trips per inning, or other things of that nature.

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  18. the wiz says:

    I like the passion and intention behind the idea, but I would definitely not be a fan of this actually being put into place. It takes away the ‘marathon-ness’ of the single game – which is a microcosm of the ‘marathon’ of the regular season. There is something special about knowing you can come back when you are down 5-0 in the fourth inning – knowing that more than half the game is still yet to be played.

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  19. Baseketball says:

    This actually wouldn’t be too much unlike the variations of cricket that have been developed over the years (ODI, 20/20). Would be really cool if this format was utilized for spring training or something.

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    • Satoshi Nakamoto says:

      Being American I didn’t know anything about crickett until I recently learned some crickett games last 5 days with 30 hours of gameplay. Not sure how you could pay attention as a fan, let alone a player.

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  20. Chris from Bothell says:

    Try it in England or India first. If fans of cricket can’t follow or enjoy this, it’s going to be hopeless for anyone else.

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  21. here goes nothing says:

    I love the idea of expanding the universe of baseball. You see something similar in cricket, where a Test match is entirely different in terms of strategy, pacing, roster construction, etc–a new angle on the game brings out new stars and greater diversity means something for everyone. I just love experimentation, though…I’d like to see it, somewhere. I also love North Korean basketball rules, though, so (don’t remember exactly, but something like 5 points for shots past half court, 4 for dunks, extra points when the shot clock is winding down).

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  22. MK says:

    Fun idea, I worry about the pace of play. The pace seems to drop in high leverage situations (pitching changes, mound chatter, throw overs, etc.) Creating 4-5 innings of high leverage situations could stretch every game into a four hour affair.

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  23. Tim Fedroff says:

    This wouldn’t work, simply due to the effect it would have on players. This would turn MLB into a NBA type of league, where only stars matter. Because the lineups reset every game, the gap of at bats between top of the order players, and bottom of the order players would shrink, lessening opportunities for fringy players. The Players Union would never allow that to happen, as it would tip the money scales even further towards the 1% model.

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  24. David says:

    I had a different radical idea for changing the game where the league transitions from 3-game series to 5-game series spread out over one week.

    Now I don’t want MLB to become the NFL or anything, but I think the week-long focus all their programming can place on that week’s matchup could benefit baseball greatly as well. Each team will see each other’s entire rotation, barring a 6- or 4-man rotation, and I think it would be interesting to be able to see if hitters or pitchers could make more adjustments to their opponents if they see them for longer consecutive periods of time. The players benefit from the reduced travel and increased time off. Divisional matchups would feel more important, which might allow for a more diverse schedule by taking the opportunity to reduce the total number of games played within your division.

    Though I realize that this would reduce the number of games in the schedule and that may outweigh any perceived benefits to the 5-game series. I do like that baseball is one almost every night and losing that characteristic would be a shame too.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Matt says:

    It’s certainly change a lot of strategies. I do agree that for MLB it might be too radical a change, but certainly makes a lot of sense in an Olympics/WBC/Spring training context. In those contexts, since it’s outside of the main season, pitchers will rarely work to their max – pitchers would rarely get past 5-6 innings then, which lines up perfectly.

    I think if this happened, you’d see a lot of “starters” work 5 innings. They pitch through the first game, then are the starters in game 2, and you might bring in your “closer” for the 6th. Then back to the long man for 7-8, and then the secondary closer for the 9th.

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  26. Alex says:

    Sucks to be the SS or 2B who plays 7 innings and gets 0 PA

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    • Keith says:

      I’m not a fan of the idea, but even if a team only had nine outs (three up, three down, three times) that’s a full time through the batting order.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Technically, the #8 hitter can play the entire day without a PA if they’re playing at home, and they win each game 1-0 with a solo home run and no other baserunners. First inning, 3 up 3 down. Second inning, 3 up 3 down. Third inning, #7 hitter hits a walk-off home run.

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      • MikeS says:

        Basically, your three worst hitters almost never hit at home. If you are leading after the top of the third, the game is over. If you are tied or behind, they get pinch hit for. It is almost like three DH spots for the home team.

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    • dang says:

      Even if you were in the 9 hole, and there were no hits or walks, you’d get a PA. 3 innings, 3 outs per inning.

      Imagine how much more important speedy, defensive players would be. Defensive replacements and pinch runners would be more commonplace. I like this the more I think about it.

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      • Alex says:

        No, they would be PH for in leveraged situations like at the end of a minigame.

        Why not just have a defensive lineup and a batting lineup like in football…

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  27. dang says:

    I literally thought of this re-imagining, but in respect to basketball.

    I like the idea and would like to see how it would work.

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    • Cuban X Senators says:

      I literally first heard of this reimagining of basketball in the pre-Bird/Magic era when the NBA was marginally a major pro league that needed saving . . . this was some smart guy’s proposal to ensure all games remained relevant up to the end.

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  28. danlby says:

    Suggested tweaks:
    - Switch to 2 games x 4 innings each day. This addresses a little of the “high leverage = slower pace” concern. The average plate appearances would be ~17 per 4-innings per team, which means the entire lineup would typically matter about twice, and extra innings would often turn it over to the best hitters for a 3rd time.
    - Add a 5th inning to the 1st game of the day if it’s tied, but still move on to the 2nd game for a winner-take-all finish if it remains tied. With this one extra inning plus extra innings after the 2nd game, there will still typically be ~9 innings per game. This is just a guess of course.

    It breaks the mold completely and could not happen without a lot of evolution. E.g. WBC, then maybe spring training, the minor leagues, college/youth ball, etc, before changing MLB.

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  29. Spa City says:

    For me, one of the things that makes baseball enjoyable is its link to the past. Baseball has been played 9 innings at a time for more than 150 years. The Knickerbocker rules were different (21 aces), but by the 1850s games were 9 innings. There have been plenty of rule changes, but this change would be more dramatic than anything since the mid-1800s. I understand this idea is meant to heighten the importance of each plate appearance, so I see where you are going, but I think it is much to radical.

    My crazy ideas for rule changes…

    Mandate that betters must remain in the batter’s box between pitches unless they are knocked down or request permission to step out, which would only be granted if it was necessary (e.g. batter was knocked down). They could ask the umpire to give them a moment to prepare, but if they leave the box a Strike would be called. This would be an invisible rule b/c batters would stop leaving the box. It would keep the game moving.

    Reduce roster size to 24 players. This would mostly eliminate the 12th best pitcher on rosters, and it would cut down on inefficient pitching changes that delay the game.

    Utilize Pitch f/x to call strikes and balls.

    Put a timer on Home Run trots. No need to sprint, but a time limit might eliminate the arrogant tendency for batters to watch their home runs clear the fences before slowly sauntering around the bases.

    Ban the long pants that go underneath the player’s heel. This is the worst baseball fashion idea since the Pirates’ late 70s gold uniforms. We have two teams names after their Sock colors (though mind-numbingly the White Sox wear black socks for some reason), but nobody can see the socks. Stirrups are awful and serve no purpose since the advent of washing machines. But c’mon – uniforms need to include high socks. And the White Sox should be mandated to wear white socks!

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    • Anon says:

      Instead of an automatic strike, have the pitcher be allowed to throw if the batter leaves the box (without an umpire calling timeout). This will keep the pitcher on the mound and the batter in the box.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        I was going to say the same thing. And I do like the idea, as batters shouldn’t need to re-adjust their batting gloves after each pitcher, take a practice swing, etc. Certain players would need to adjust their habits, but overall I think it would help speed things along.

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    • David says:

      It’s probably for commercial breaks as much as the pitcher, but I don’t see why starters or relievers can’t do their warm-up pitches in the dugout so we don’t have to wait for them to do so on the field.

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    • Ben Gburek says:

      I don’t like the idea of Pitch f/x calling the games, because even though it is more efficient, it eliminates the role of pitch framing and pitchers who can expand or pitch to an umpire’s zone

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  30. Anon says:

    What do you do about the home team leading in the last half inning of the first two games? Skipping the inning would benefit the away pitchers (and make the home pitchers throw more continuously). Playing the inning would result in zero-leverage play. Watching position players pitch is fun but not if it happens a several times each week.

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    • tz says:

      Maybe just flip who bats first in the middle game. It lessens the home-field advantage, but as someone once said 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

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  31. tz says:

    I’ve thought about how you would do “Arena Baseball”, and this multi-game with carryover idea was actually part of it.

    For Arena Baseball I’d also change:

    – Using a softer, rubber-based baseball for safety.
    – Widening the angle from 3B to home to 1B from 90 degrees to 120 degrees to increase the number of balls in play
    – Beginning each plate appearance with a 1-1 count.

    The key would be having a quick version of baseball that might appeal to the younger, ADHD-afflicted generation. And give the rest of us something resembling baseball during the winter doldrums.

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    • Mikniks says:

      Perhaps instead of starting with a 1-1 count, you could simply move to a 3 balls and 2 strikes system lol

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    • nd says:

      Make the bat wider, deepen the fences 50 feet, and add an outfielder. Lots of plays on the basepaths and lots of runs.

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      • Aaron says:

        No no. Keep the bat the same. Have tons of outfielders, a guy who only throws bp pitches and everything that doesn’t go over the fence is an out. Now that sounds like a game!!! #HRderby

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  32. PackBob says:

    Well, it fits with today’s society that needs to be stuck with a pin every few minutes to keep awake and interested in something, a nervous energy type of game.

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  33. Richard says:

    Please, please put this on Foxsports. I have to see those comments!!!

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  34. BillyF says:

    I don’t think this system will work, but I agree on principle. A 9-inning game doesn’t make sense anymore. Historians had pointed out how in the 1910s, each of the baseball games were less than an hour and half. It slowly stretched to a 3-hour plus game we see today. Today’s game has too many pitching change. Batters and pitchers all tried to slow down the game, doing pointless actions that are “inactive”–irrelevant to on-field action–Nomar Garciapparra. Interrupt the opponent rhythm? Interrupt the game of my a**.

    I would love to see a 6-inning game in World Baseball Classic with a rule that prevents pitchers and batters to stop the clock, and another rule forcing managers to stick to at most 3 pitchers per game.

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  35. Ramon Veloso says:

    Why would you try and radically change the greatest game ever devised by man?

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  36. Michelle says:

    It’s certainly an interesting idea. Like many others have said, I don’t think I’d like it in the bigs. I know that you mentioned the playoffs, but I think they’ve been messed with too much already.

    The low amount of runs per game really is a concern, I think. Like others have said, it leaves no room for “rallies”.

    I’d like to see it played. I wonder how it would change the game. Would people play more “small ball”? Or would they be not willing to give up the outs for sacrifice bunts and the like given the reduced amount of chances in the game?

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  37. Remus says:

    Incredibly bad idea for the sport, incredibly fun too.

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  38. Kappy says:

    If the 3rd game of the day were still tied after 3 innings, would it go into extras? I imagine we’d have a lot more extra inning games then, given it’s more likely to be tied after 3 than after 9.

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  39. Brad says:

    I think it would be too much high leverage situations in regular season and sometimes I need downtime in baseball. But, it would fun in post season like the Phila-TB rain delay game.

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  40. Kyle in Illinois says:

    Did you say your friends were drinking or you were drinking? Good gravy, this is a wild idea. “A” for creativity, “D-” for practicality.

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  41. rr says:

    It’s intriguing and would certainly be a fascinating case study…but too drastic for me. Maybe if they prove it out in international tournaments first.

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  42. Dan says:

    This sounds fantastic! If they wouldn’t try it for fun in an exhibition or international format, it is an easily constructed option in a video game or Strat. This is a great idea, thanks!

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  43. Timothy says:

    Why are you treating position players and pitchers so differently in the rules? I mean, aside from the fact that you like pinch hitting and don’t like situational relievers. That part feels clunky and forced in support of a particular outcome.

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    • Doug Lampert says:

      Yeah, and as others have pointed out it means that the home team can freely make offensive substitutions at no cost in the 3rd and 6th innings, thus making it so the home team number 9 almost never bats when it matters (if the home number 9 comes up in the second then the minigame is probably at a low leverage situation already).

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      • Joe says:

        If the home team’s number 9 hitter comes up in the second inning, all that means is that 3 of the first 8 batters reached base (with no DP or other runner-erasing plays). That doesn’t strike me as being particularly indicative of a blowout.

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  44. NatsFan says:

    I will personally form the George Will Freedom Forever militia and organize insurgent attacks on any man/commissioner/ball park fool-hardy enough to change the Sacred game.

    If you want shorter games go to 3-2 or Little League. There’s nothing more exciting–and terrifying–as watching a game in the late innings. I was watching Tanner Roark almost get a win, and then saw the Nationals bullpen wet the bed and lose. It was awful.

    You can’t get that kind of emotional buildup in 3 innings.

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  45. Josh W says:

    Super-interesting premise. Love hearing experimental ideas like this. But, I feel like there are some major problems here:

    1. This is a hugely fundamental change–maybe more than you’re appreciating. Baseball 2.0 changes what a “win” even means. Eras become completely non-comparable. You may think this better or worse, but it’s no longer as much of a team game. Now it’s a higher-leverage strategy matchup with totally different substitution patterns. A nine-inning flow doesn’t matter any more.

    2. The game becomes all about stars, way less scrubs. Now there is way less penalty for removing a defensive type, so why not do it all the time? Now 1.1 WAR defensive players have less chance to contribute and develop.

    3. I’m not even sure you’re fixing the blowouts you’re setting out to fix. As a first pass, using a win expectancy finder, consider a situation where the first inning ends 3-0 in favor of the home team.

    *In a nine inning game, the Visitor starts the second inning with a 18% win probability. Not great, but far too often I’d regret giving up.

    *In a three-inning game, starting the second (same situation as starting out the 8th in a 9-inning scenario), the Visitor is already down to 5%. This is only slightly worse than the odds of pulling out a victory when down 9-2 in the fourth.

    Granted: perhaps having better hitters available in v.2.0 changes those odds. Or maybe 9-2 in the fourth just *feels* more out of hand than 3-0 in the eighth. But the point is, blowouts still exist, just on a smaller scale. You can finely slice it up however you want: what if in baseball 3.0 a base-hit equals a “win”. Now the pitcher getting ahead 0-1 probably renders the game a blowout!

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    • dang says:

      “2. Now there is way less penalty for removing a defensive type, so why not do it all the time? Now 1.1 WAR defensive players have less chance to contribute and develop.”

      I disagree completely. Now defensive replacements could come in in the 3rd, 6th, and 9th innings, instead of just the last inning of a game. Same with pinch runners. You’re likely giving them more opportunities to accrue value, rather than less.

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  46. tz says:

    How about a much simpler change:

    Use “Innings Won” as a tie-breaker for playoff berths and home-field advantage in the All-Star Game. So even if your team is getting blown out, there could still be value in them outscoring the opponent as many innings as possible.

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  47. capnsparrow says:

    Sorry this isn’t what the game is about. Maybe you should add a clock,a line of scrimmage and a goal of some sort. While yer at it why not add a dude that hits when pitchers are supposed to. So you the fat slow kids that can’t field a position can play too! Lastly instead of a Championship trophy just hand out participation flowers to each and every player.

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  48. David says:

    My mods on this silly idea:

    1) No DH. The pitcher hits, period. Bat him 9th, fine, and he may never actually swing the bat if you pull him for a pinch hitter or up 1-0 after 7 batters at home in the 3rd inning. But often it would be another tactical decision to make if you think you want the same pitcher to span multiple games.

    1a) The DH can still exist. Not only does he maybe hit for a pitcher 3 times across 3 games, but if you’re the visitor, you bat your DH in the top-3 and replace him on defense in the bottom half of the inning. If you’re the home team it’s the reverse. You start you defensive specialist and bat him 8th. You get 2 good defensive innings from him, then pull him for a pinch hitter in the 3rd.

    2) Forget it. Let’s let the same pitcher be used in two games, even if he was lifted from the first. Why do we have to preserve the notion of a “starter” that pitchers long innings?

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  49. mark s says:

    Anyone else feel like Fry watching blernsball in Futurama?

    I can see this idea like this developing in time. It is very creative and could be something baseball might try but not for many years in the future.

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  50. Mr baseball says:

    This is a pointless novelty.

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    • Stick-in-the-mud says:

      Totally agree. Also I’ve never had sex and don’t see what the big fuss is all about, frankly.

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  51. Hurtlockertwo says:

    I was watching a Rockies game over the weekend and Tulo seemed to take a stroll after every pitch. Besides being obnoxious, it really slowed down the at bat. I know this is true of pitchers too. If you want a faster game change rules within the game that make it faster. If you want more strategy, change rules that create strategy. Turning baseball into tennis only diminishes a great game.

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  52. Jon L. says:

    I think it would be an amazing idea if we could set it up in a parallel but otherwise identical universe, and then compare teams and players’ performances between the two worlds. Can Clayton Kershaw double or triple his number of wins in this parallel world? Can Jason Giambi keep playing until he’s 46?

    Now all we have to do is convince this parallel world that they’re the parallel world, so we can keep our rules the same.

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  53. Poinmonster says:

    I’m on a strong cup of coffee, which–hears my radical idea– should maybe not be called sober. I’ll say this is a fun, exciting idea which I have not fully thought through. It’s best place for now might be fun local leagues. It could have a somewhat bombastic name like Power Baseball, and have the sort of stature of other quirky club sports like court tennis and combat juggling. Hooray.

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  54. Dreamin says:

    If we’re trying to reduce low-leverage, dull innings, here’s another silly suggestion; why not simply keep the game mostly as is, but reset the last stranded base runners every half inning? Makes outs all the more valuable and prevents pitchers who give up a lot of base runners from hiding behind high strand rates. Gave up that triple to the 8 hole hitter with 2 outs? You’re still gonna have to deal with him next inning after you get the pitcher out. Intentional walks would basically go away outside of the 9th. TOOTBLANs would be ostracized. It changes up the strategy of the game in some interesting ways (When should I play the infield in with a runner on 3rd, now? When a runner is on first and 2 outs, do I try to get the speedy lead runner or the lead footed hitter at 1st? Is trying to sac fly in a runner from 3rd worth giving up the out at this point in the game?) whist making pitchers that are just better at out creation invaluable.

    Sure there would have to be a few rule tweaks since it’s now very possible to still be on base when your turn in the batting order comes up (last man out takes over as the runner? a designated runner who only runs for a player who needs to hit again? If you strand that runner long enough for his spot in the order to come back around, your opponent must forfeit that base runner, pinch run (burn a bench player) or pinch hit, allowing him to stay running but removing him from the game as a hitter/fielder?), but those wouldn’t be too terribly troublesome, I think.

    Just trying to add to the discussion of baseball silliness. Baseball is fine and I don’t want to change it.

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  55. Bil Bo Baggins says:

    Clayton Kershaw: the 2015 Holds leader

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  56. Mike says:

    It must have been a slow day at the office

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  57. Radivel says:

    I like this, but I’m a person who’s always thought that things that stay the same because that’s how they’ve always been rather than changing for the better are foolish. (See: The US Education system, the way the US Gov’t is set up, etc. It’s THE AMERICAN WAY, how could it be better?!?)

    Baseball will never change because it feels like it’s the biggest old boys club that’s ever existed. Look at how long it took to get instant replay added? That’s just one tiny little thing!

    I like your idea, I think it’d add depth to the game and make everything watchable as opposed to, “Oh, they scored 6 in the first, time to go watch American Idol”. I’m not saying the game would ever change like this, but I find it’s more likely to go in a direction like this than it is to turn into :D

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  58. Will says:

    The place to try this out (in my opinion) would be an area of the sport where the limited schedule causes randomness. I think it would be fascinating in college baseball, particularly during the tournaments to get to the CWS and during the CWS itself. There are no records to be concerned about, and nobody watches any of the regionals or super regionals right now anyway.

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  59. hscer says:

    I’d be frustrated if my team tied the first game, lost the second game by one run, and won the third game by eight runs.

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    • dang says:

      Baseball is already so reliant on sequencing anyway.

      3 singles in one inning and you likely score a run
      3 singles in three innings, nothing to show for it.

      Still 3 hits either way, but because of the sequence of the first three hits, you end up with different results.

      So you’d again just have to shake your fist at sequencing if your team lost the second game after tying the first.

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    • Tangotiger says:

      How would you feel if your team lost a one-run game on Friday, one-run on Saturday, and won a blow-out by 10 runs on Sunday?

      What if you played “cricket style”, and had a 27-inning game lasting over three days, where the above happened (you won by 8 runs in one game)?

      What if Federer v Nadal was: 1-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 (total of 20-24)?

      Basically, you’re not going to like ANY scoring changes, because you will focus on whatever you were used to, and highlight those.

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      • John Elway says:

        Or what if you played hockey, where they give out 2 points total for a regulation game, but 3 points if the game goes to overtime.

        Just neighing.

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        • Jason B says:

          Hockey point tabulation is widely regarded as fubar and in need of revision…little incentive to play for a win in regulation, it’s all “let’s get to overtime and get our point locked down and then we can try!”

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        • Joe Montana says:

          I was just about to say that.

          Just NEIGHHHHHHHING!!!

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        • Jason B says:

          Nice Skechers.

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  60. John says:

    So in other words, Tennis.

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    • tz says:

      Tennis with a touch of bowling (the carryover on tie games ~ using the first pin of the next frame on a spare)

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  61. tylerzx2002 says:

    This is basically what me and my younger siblings do for games of wiffleball.

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  62. Nick says:

    I think this is a very creative idea. I’ve watched a lot of baseball over the years and I do think that each game/season can feel long at times. Splitting up individual games could maintain the current volume of ticket-payers (which owners like) but also keep the inning-to-inning moments more engaging.

    But as you mentioned, the 3-game setup does disrupts the continuity of the game in terms of history. Because the history of the game is such a big part of the appeal of baseball, I don’t think the 3-game setup could realistically work.

    Fans grow up with the game of baseball, and the game is saturated with history. Part of the current game is reliving the history of the game by playing the same basic game that has been around for over a century. The baseball community likes being able to talk about greats of the early 20th century next to players of today.

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  63. Stathead says:

    The last thing baseball needs is even smaller sample sizes. Also the leadoff hitter would get 6 at bats per game? And the home team might only come to bat 6 times in a day? This is silly.

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  64. Quetzalcuddyer says:

    I think this actually could be a more exciting form of baseball, and I love baseball. But, it would sever the sport from the past in such a way as to make it’s historical link suffer. Baseball in its current form is as much tradition and statistical comparability than actual sport enjoyment. Regardless of what we at this site might think, people don’t watch baseball because it’s exciting: the competing sports either in the mainstream or fringe almost all beat baseball on this count.

    This seems a lot like what they are doing in cricket with the 20/20 matches, which is a direct response to the fact that younger fans don’t have the same appetite for cricket and the sport is suffering a somewhat existentialist crisis. Baseball has these fears as well and seems more set on hoping football concusses itself out of competition in the same way that boxing did. I suppose if baseball fans really didn’t care about the history and records (though the home run chase of 98 tells me they do) and generally do just want a more exciting game, this really could be a solution.

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  65. Quetzalcuddyer says:

    But, this seems like a perfect solution for the WBC. Nobody wants their players logging full games or starter-like innings in what is essentially the preseason. This would be exciting; allow for experimentation; and solve the problem of player overuse that teams are wary of.

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  66. Gyre says:

    Make it up as an iGame, those Apple folkes will buy anything with some spin “All new game of BB III!” is enough. If you make money from that game, then someone will try it in the flesh.

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  67. Gyre says:

    Oh, and you better start someone on second, since there are a ton of games that never score in 3 innings.

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  68. Muphrid says:

    At the beginning of each inning, restore any baserunners LOB last inning to their previous bases.

    It’s something of a compromise between a cricket-like approach (play all 27 outs at once for one side, then 27 for the other side) and current baseball. A lot of scoring potential is left wasted on the bases; keeping it persistent between innings would make it much more likely that each inning would feature some amount of scoring.

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    • YABooble says:

      And what about allowing runners to round home and continue on to first, to allow them to score again?

      You would have to require the runner to leave the basepaths when his turn to bat comes up again (to avoid making a travesty of the game), but why not?

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  69. Adam says:

    9 inning games are more complex than 3 inning games for all the reasons mentioned in this article; balancing offensive and defensive strengths and weaknesses of players that have to do both, when/if to substitute a player, batting lineups that turn over less frequently. The 7th inning is very different from the 1st even at a 0-0 tie. Cutting 9 innings into three 3′s reduces managerial and roster complexity and would make the game less interesting.

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  70. doff123 says:

    so dave, is this post because you lost a bet with your drinking buddies?

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  71. sickcoyote says:

    While it would never be implemented on a grand scale, this does sound like a fantastic change to the all-star game.

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  72. bob says:

    I agree, subject to following condition: The breaks between half innings are limited to one minute, or whatever is the minimum time required for the players to change sides. Then take an intermission of several minutes between “games” which would be the only time allowed for commercials. They already have advertising on the screen or at the ballpark 100% of the time anyway, so there are plenty of opportunities for advertising revenue as it is without breaking up the flow every single half inning for redundant commercials we’ve all seen before.

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  73. Ballfan says:

    I like the idea and would likely be a fan of this

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  74. Mack says:

    I really want this to be the format for the All-Star Game.

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  75. Gary Mugford says:

    This sounds awfully like a good thing for a beer league to try and see if the warts outvalue the gains. You marginalize part of a roster in an ‘everybody plays’ league. But you save as many as three half innings as often as you play a couple more. Maybe the average runs to the good. The strategy in the trio is going to be complex, different but complex. The rule limiting pitchers to one appearance, however spread out, will hit the relief corps, too. The probable basic strategy is to start with your seventh inning guy for a couple of innings, leaving the end of the first to your eighth-inning guy. Then the starting pitcher goes in game two and lasts until handing off to the closer, or a mop up guy, if he can’t go the two games.

    Baseball is proudly and stridently not a timed game. But ADS and TV networks really would like to see something that would tighten the TV hole and keep the home team in more games. This is the reason for the mostly dumb NHL PPG system, because it artifically shows more tail-enders still in playoff races. Which is a mirage, because of the need to climb over teams getting one point even in losses. The three-point for a regulation win system would remove that veneer. That’s the leagues thinking the fans are dumb.

    The speed of game issue has all kinds of contributing slow-down factors. Do away with batting gloves and let them spray a fresh latex covering on before coming to the plate. I love a local player who hustles, defends and offers entertaining at bats more often than not. But watching him tug at his glove before EVERY PITCH drives me to extraction–and the remote control. Surely there’s a chess game going on somewhere.

    Keep ‘em in the box. Limit visits to the mound by any non-pitcher to one per inning per pitcher. That includes catchers and shortstops. Make the pitchers throw inside of 26 seconds. No more than two pick-off attempts before pitching to the batter. You can spend your two attempts or not. But after throwing over there twice, you’re going home. Sure, the base thief is going to get off to a flying start, but you gave him that advantage by failing twice. Managers call reviews by going direct from the bench to the home plate umpire. Once out of the dugout, he has FIVE seconds to ask for the review. We want the OBVIOUSLY wrong calls to be overturned. The close ones that require three minutes of reviewing in NY, will just have to be left for the umpires to have already decided. Pick anything from above and apply it to Baseball v2.03 or even to the bigs itself.

    In the meantime, we should all be trying to talk a ‘amateur’ league that is having a ‘fun’ tournament to give the idea a try. If Baseball v2 is ANYTHING like 20/20 cricket in terms of restoring entertainment to an otherwise brain-numbing experience, then it absolutely MUST have a real-life test. Or 100 tests. Or … oops, this one is getting long. Just like a ball game.

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  76. KCDaveInLA says:

    Let’s start a new league: the XLB. Jose Canseco could be the commissioner, and Brian Wilson could wear a jersey that says “He Find Me Trying Too Hard To Get Attention”.

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  77. FatGuy says:

    Smaller portions is un-American.

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  78. Sean says:

    I’ve wondered what could happen if a team choose to play its defensive outs in a row. Say a the home team is ahead 6-3 going into the Top of the 8th. Just play six outs [bases clear after 3 outs]…without allowing the home team to bat. Get the game done quicker.

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  79. Bip says:

    The main criticism that comes to mind for me is that it may lead to some better pitchers being overused. Obviously they cannot be overused too much in one day, but with three times as many “last innings,” it may cause them to be brought in on too many consecutive days.

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  80. Stephens992 says:

    I have to say I really find this idea fascinating. Could we possibly see this is an Independent League? Sugarland Skeeters seem to love gimmicks maybe that league will pick it up. I would pay to see it.

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  81. Traditionalist says:

    But how would this affect the challenge rules?!

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  82. Neckbeard says:

    I can’t wait to watch the Braves try to win 300 games next year.

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  83. dee.gordon says:

    How about the three games are played SIMULTANEOUSLY and instead of 3 innings, you literally get 27 outs. So before either team reaches a total of 27 outs, they alternate playing with 3 outs each, like normal innings. Once one team reaches 27 outs, they cease batting, and the other team has the remainder of their outs to try to score as many runs as they can in their respective games.

    Or, there are two simultaneous games, one the defensive and offensive for each team. It’s essentially a derby-type situation, so like above, 27 outs, when you make 27 outs, your batting’s up, it’s up for the team that hasn’t finished their 27 outs yet to score more runs with the outs remaining if they haven’t already. Kind of like the format of cricket, but both teams’ batting happening simultaneously.

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  84. adohaj says:

    sounds perfect for the WBC

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  85. Edwin says:

    This idea seems similar to that Seinfeld episode where they try to only sell the tops of muffins.

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  86. Satoshi Nakamoto says:

    Dave Cameron:
    What are you puffing and where can I score some?

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  87. Or…………………………….
    Just have a 4 player batting lineup. At maximum you’d have the bases loaded with the sole remaining hitter at the plate.

    Defenders don’t have to bat, they only defend. Imagine freak athletes like the NBA’s Josh Smith or the NFL’s Percy Harvin playing Center Field.

    Shaq reaching out at first base to receive a catch.

    Pitchers switching for every single at bat. No warmup tosses. New batter comes up and the pitcher jogs in from modified bullpens (closer and with 4 mounds so 4 pitchers could stay loose).
    You could have the same pitcher always face the same batter.
    Yes you would only need 4 healthy elite batters but they better not have handedness vulnerabities because they’ll face the same pitcher every at bat when facing that team.

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  88. Ron says:

    This is a great idea for the Pecos League. That league is probably at the bottom of professional baseball talent but they do play in an extremely high run environment. This would lead to ties being slightly less likely.

    I don’t know if I like the way ties are handled. I know it would create higher leverage situations but at times one team would be playing for a tie and one team for a win. I guess that would make it exciting.

    I would love for this to replace the wild card playoff. Well what I would like to see to replace the wild card is a two game set like the MLS with composite scoring, but a best of 7 3 inning games over two days might be exciting.

    Or even a best of seven three inning games, with extras for each for the wild card. Might see 20 innings with position players pitching which would be fantastic.

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  89. Adam S says:

    If I were drunk, I’d probably like this idea too. Being sober, it’s just horrible for any real kind of baseball.

    The Jessica Biel/Yvonne Strahovski comment sums it up — you’re fixing something that isn’t broken. However that’s only part of why this idea sucks.

    The biggest thing wrong with baseball is all the micromanaging that slows the game to a crawl with endless pitching changes and substitutions that don’t really benefit the team and often hurt them. And now you’re encouraging MORE of this because the 3rd, 5th, and 6th are high leverage in addition to the 8th and 9th. You’re also favoring the teams that can figure out optimal strategies for exploiting this model versus those with better baseball players. (Idea #1, instead of a starting pitcher doing side work on Day 3 between starts, make him the 6th inning pitcher.)

    Sure, pitching changes are limited to the number of guys in the bullpen and really the number of guys in the pen who are fresh. But there would be a lot more opportunities to put them in.

    That said, I think for the WBC or the Olympics (when baseball comes back) or perhaps Spring training and particularly the All-Star game this would work. You could use one of your closers in the 3rd and 6th. And you could swap the whole team to start the 4th inning without fear of running out of players.

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