Broo View: Manfred's plan is no solution to baseball's problem

So let me get this straight: the only sport with no clock wants to speed its game up? This is how Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is going to fix his game?

The intentional walk is no more... at least the part where the pitcher has to throw four balls. This week the MLB Players Union OK'd a simple signal from the dugout to allow a batter to reach first base on a walk. Stand by, pitch clocks and extra inning base runners aren't far behind.

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man (OK, OK my kids have called me that for most of the last 10 years), the beauty of baseball is is timelessness, not just in its history but in its flow. Football games last three hours, more or less. Basketball games are two-hour events collegiately, two-and-a-half hours at the NBA level. 

You don't go to a baseball game to squeeze in a couple of hours entertainment. It's a day, an experience, it's conversational. 

MLB knows it has problems. Look around the crowd the next time you go to Great American Ball Park. You see a lot of senior citizens and a lot of parents with young kids. There's an attendance problem, with millennials and with the Generation Y crowd. Maybe there isn't enough action for them or enough texting or social media meet-ups.  Whatever it is, baseball is missing it. It's not hip enough, I guess.

Now Manfred wants to limit coach/manager visits to the mound. Dead time, they call it. The game has all but eliminated one of the more entertaining things it had going for it: manager-umpire arguments. You can thank replay.  If Manfred has his way, extra innings will begin with a base runner on second. Get to the end result is the idea.  What has happened to the journey? I've got a better idea if you want to travel down that road: forget the base runner idea. Just have a home run derby determine who wins. Become hockey. They've got it figured out there. 

And by the way, if you start an extra inning with a runner already on second base, and he happens to score, what pitcher gets tagged with the loss and which pitcher is awarded the win? That's a sabermetric heart attack waiting to happen.

Baseball's got a problem with being hip. You want to get hip? Make your players more accessible to your paying public. Have them stage clinics, free, every home stand. Make sure every kid who attends not only gets free lessons, they also get autographs. SELL you game better. When your side shows (like fireworks, bobble heads and dollar hot dog nights) are more entertaining and compelling than your on-field product, you have a problem. 

Make your rules uniform. You want more offense? Put the DH in the National League and play under one set of rules for the first time since 1974. I just heard the legendary Peter Gammons say on Major League Baseball's league-owned TV network that batting practice should be reversed. Let the home team hit after the visiting team, so that when fans are allowed in the park they can see their team taking batting practice. 

None of this is tough. None of it is game-changing. All of it is better than a bastardization of your basic rules. We're told Manfred is frustrated by the lack of urgency his game's players union has on his agenda. We're told Manfred is at a personal war with union chief Tony Clark over this. I'm with Clark.

Now then... random thoughts on a random Wednesday...

Rule number one on an intra-office power struggle: Make sure you have the boss on your side. Apparently John Harkes didn't...

I like Harkes, a lot. He played for DC United when I worked out there and got to cover his team. He was then and is now a very good quote. But the truth is, most of the FC Cincinnati fan base could care less who their team's coach is. Harkes wasn't sacked one minute before one of the fan clubs tweeted a "thanks for being here but we can't wait for the season to begin." Truth is, most of FC Cincinnati's fan base goes to the games for the collegial atmosphere, to watch soccer and to drink beer. Not a damn thing wrong with that. And Harkes gave instant credibility to an organization that played soccer on the same level an AHL team playes hockey. But I don't see his dismissal having any effect on game attendance...

NFL free agency begins March 7. If the Bengals don't have legitimate contract in front of Andrew Whitworth by then, they're crazy. Neither of the tackles they drafted in 2015 seem capable of protecting Andy Dalton's blind side. And if you can't do that, you can't win. Period, end of story. It has to be ironic to Whitworth that the team was all but done with him BEFORE the 2015 season and yet needs him desperately now. Very ironic...

Xavier gets Trevon Bluiett back for tonight's game at Seton Hall. My guess is, Bluiett's return will calm the uneasiness inside "Xavier-Nation" about the team's prospects in March. They'll win three of their next four, enter they conference tournament with 21 wins and take a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. You heard it here first...

UC is built to play deep into March. It has legitimate 'inside-out' scoring for the first time in Mick Cronin's time at UC. The ONLY thing I question about UC is how well it's been tested this year. The American Conference is awful. And why talent trumps everything in athletics, I wonder how well the Bearcats' schedule has prepared the 'Cats for March  Other than Iowa State, I don't see a decent road win on their resume. Maybe that means nothing. We'll see. The Bearcats will be a 4 seed, maybe a 3 if a team or two above them stumbles...

Having said all of that, this is one of those years where if you're seeded from 4 through 7, it may not matter a whole lot...

I hope Bronson Arroyo makes this Reds team and completes his comeback. I always root for players close to me in age. But if he makes the team, is that good news for anyone but him? It probably means one of the younger pitchers in the organization didn't pitch all that well in exhibition games...

I haven't touched Kool-Aid in 30 years, so don't blame that. I think the Reds win 78 games this season...

Let's get an early jump and wish one of the great '80s techno-rockers, Howard Jones, a Happy 62nd birthday.   Here's Howard in all of his glory in 1986 album "One To One:"

Jones is living these days in near Somerset, England and toured last Fall with Kim Wilde. But 62 years ago tomorrow in Southhampton, Hampshire, England, John Howard Jones came upon this earth... not entirely respected by all for his style of music.. .but commercially successful none the less.

 

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