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How to shorten, enliven baseball on TV

7/18/2014

So Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon says baseball is too long and boring to watch on television and that he prefers to watch the History Channel. Good thing for Rendon that the History Channel does not own the broadcast rights to past seasons.

"Next on the History Channel: The 2009 Washington Nationals strike out 13 times and suffer their 96th loss of the season in a five-hour, 14-inning game against the San Diego Padres."

Rendon is just one of those unrelenting voices that baseball always hears on this subject. Someone has always been complaining about the length of baseball games since before Jack Norworth wrote the lyrics “I don’t care if I never get back" in 1908. They still do this even though most baseball games are shorter than football games –- and the majority of football games are spent with 11 men standing around in a conference meeting.

Could baseball games be shorter? Of course. The easiest way to tighten games would be to require hitters like Rendon to stay in the batter’s box -– or step back in more quickly -- to resume their at-bats rather than standing outside tightening their batting gloves, staring at the third-base coach for signs, or scanning the stands for pretty women. The same applies to pitchers who take too long between pitches. Just get on with it, guys.

Failing that, how could baseball games be more interesting on TV? A couple suggestions:

Microphone the players –- but don’t tell them: That will provide us with viral-ready video as we eavesdrop on players and hear what they really think about their teammates and opponents. "I like Bryce [Harper], but I wish the guy would stop instructing Matt Williams on his WAR numbers and more about the latest World War II broadcast on the History Channel."

Sexy shots: Football broadcasters fill their many breaks in the action by showing long, sensuous shots of cheerleaders kicking their legs and jiggling their breasts while wearing tight, skimpy tops and shorts. They can’t do this in baseball because the game doesn’t have cheerleaders. But perhaps broadcasters could instead show the players’ girlfriends, wives and, most provocatively, their mistresses. Why, Derek Jeter’s girlfriends could fill all four hours and 23 minutes of the average Red Sox-Yankees marathon.

Amazing non-pennant races: Television viewers flock to reality shows. Take advantage of this by duplicating the “Amazing Race" with a competition in which pairs of teammates must make their own way to the next city on a road trip. Then show snippets of this competition throughout the season. "Rendon and Harper are out of the starting lineup once again because their flight out of Denver was cancelled and they decided to take Greyhound instead. Here they are complaining about how long last night's game took while watching it on TV in the Chattanooga bus station."

And finally ...

Show historic footage while hitters are stepping out of the box: Well, this might appeal to Rendon.

Or better yet, to make broadcasts more appealing, perhaps Rendon should start dating a Kardashian.