Alan Greenwood: Folks, it’s baseball, not the circus

Alan Greenwood

Give Major League Baseball credit for finally thinking outside the box.

Unfortunately, MLB’s welcome, but fatally flawed radicalism shouldn’t make it beyond the batters box.

The Lords of the Failing Game are partnering with the Atlantic League to test drive a packet of rules, including:

Allowing batters to “steal” first base on any pitch the catcher fails to catch.

Making pitchers step off the rubber to make a pick-off attempt.

Giving batters the benefit of greater doubt on checked-swing calls.

Allowing one foul bunt attempt with two strikes on the batter.

All four of these are, for the sake of concise criticism, stupid. They are concoctions that befit a carnival barker, trying to lure people into the tent to look at the bearded lady and the 8-foot


More importantly, none of them constitute a repair on the game’s greatest impediment in building a fresh generation of fans – cutting the wasted time between action.

Forbid pitchers from ruminating over the next pitch as if their family’s lives depended on it. Make batters stay in the batters box and stop fiddling with their batters gloves and the body armor that allows them to hang over home plate with impunity. Allow one mound visit per team, per game.

Cut the commercial time between innings and persuade advertisers to take advantage of digital age technology that allows them to hawk their wares during the game, when no one is ignoring them in favor of visits to the refrigerator or bathroom.

Aim to condense the game’s existing Top 10 moments into a two-hour window. And if that doesn’t work, pull the plug and say so long, because that would mean baseball has simply outlived its meaning for all but we hardball dinosaurs.

TIME TRAVEL: July 15, 1974 (Courtesy of the venerable senior staff writer Dean Shalhoup, penned during his formative years as the Telegraph sports editor) –

“Kirk Hanefeld, 18-year-old flash from Rochester Country Club, defeated his buddy Pete Harrity, also from Rochester, 2 and 1 in the finals of the State Am golf tourney at Beaver Meadow Golf Club on Saturday to annex the 1974 State Am crown.

“Hanefeld is also the reigning New England Junior champ and three-time state junior winner. He becomes the second youngest golfer in the history of the tourney to win it. Dick Dion of Nashua CC was the youngest-ever winning it in 1959 when he was but a month younger than Hanefeld is now.”

AND FINALLY: Stunning cynics, including the one hunting-and-pecking through this little essay, the state of New Hampshire has legalized sports


It makes absolute sense to expand the state’s gaming income beyond its lottery and scratch cards that have been churning revenue for more than a half-century. Licensing sports books at chosen venues will be a boon for those businesses.

Alas, since the state is unlikely to get sports books up and running in time for NBA futures best, you’ll have to go elsewhere to plunk a few bucks down on the longshot Celtics to win the 2020 NBA championship. They currently sit at 25-1.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_ Alan.