My agent, I.M. Slick, took exception to my recent column on what’s right and wrong with baseball. It’s not that he disagreed with everything, but he thought I didn’t go far enough.
Slick: Every so often you have a good idea, but then you waste the opportunity.
Joe: I’m flattered that you think I have good ideas, but I’d like to know how I waste them?
Slick: In your most recent column about baseball, you could have and should have been more aggressive and share your brilliant ideas on how to make the game better.
Joe:Wow. You think I have brilliant ideas?
Slick: Yeah, but don’t get carried away. We agents tend to exaggerate.
Joe: So tell me what brilliant ideas you like?
Slick: Why do managers insist on using their best reliever or closer in the ninth inning of a one-run game?
Joe: Are you sure this was my idea?
Slick: For example, if the team with the lead is facing the 3-4-5 hitters for the opposing team in the eighth inning, why not use your closer then and let your second best relief pitcher face the 6-7-8 hitters in the ninth inning?
Joe: But that’s not the way it’s been done in the past.
Slick: Past, schmast. Who cares? Why have your second-best relief pitcher face the other team’s best hitters just because it’s not the 9th inning?
Joe: I don’t think schmast is a word.
Slick: You miss the point. While you’re at it, why not suggest doing something about the length of games?
Joe: Oh, do you mean like using a 20-second clock between pitches?
Slick: No, no, no! That’s not innovative. I mean like shortening the game to seven innings. Nine innings is simply too long for most of the American public to sit still.
Joe: Whoa. That’s really radical, and it won’t happen in our lifetime. But maybe we could shorten the time between innings?
Slick: Bad idea because that means less time to make money from advertising.
Joe:Naturally, that would concern you. So do I have any other brilliant ideas?
Slick: Think, man, think.
Joe: How about if owners and players donated all profits and salaries earned before April 15, to the Save the Polar Bears Fund?
Slick: That’s not bad.
Joe: If you want something really innovative, let each team choose three batters for a little home-run derby in extra innings. Each team can choose a pitcher from their own team to throw one pitch to each of three batters. Whichever team hits more home runs, wins.
I’ve got another idea. What if you only allowed eight defensive players on the field in the 10th inning, seven defensive players in the 11th inning and six defensive players in any game that goes past 11 innings.
Slick: Now that’s seriously innovative.
Joe: Or, call a strike on the batter for stepping out of the batter’s box or stopping to adjust his batting glove any time during the game. Call it the Lorenzo Cain rule.
Slick: Now you’re talking.
Joe: How about letting players wear advertisements on their jerseys to make more money.
Slick: I hadn’t thought of that.
Joe: How about calling a batter out if he hits more than one foul ball with two strikes?
Slick: You’re on a roll now.
Joe: Let’s change the rules so two strikes is a strike out and three balls is a walk.
Slick: Not necessarily original, but I like the concept.
Joe: Instead of posting batting averages on the scoreboard, post each player’s salary.
Slick: That could be fun.
Joe:And if a player makes an error, send the offending player to a booth where fans pay a dollar for three throws to hit a target that drops the player in a pool of ice water?
Slick: This isn’t supposed to be a carnival, but I suppose that’s okay. At least you can see how much fun it is to think outside the box and be innovative.
Joe: That depends on your definition of fun. It’s probably painful to serious baseball fans.
Hillsboro resident Joe Kleinsasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. You can reached him at Joe.Kleinsasser@wichita.edu.