Love the Risk

by Chris Haffenreffer | 8/2/01 5:00am

The game of baseball has been repeatedly berated by yours truly for the various problems that allow a team such as the New York Yankees to effectively buy championships. The lack of revenue sharing and salary caps encourages excessive spending by wealthy teams.

However, this topic has been exhausted. The problem with baseball that I have recently noticed -- one that baseball antagonists repeatedly bring up -- is that it is boring. This summer I have found myself more often than not channel surfing past a great baseball game in hopes of finding something more entertaining -- the Travel Channel's ten most amazing beaches for instance. Granted, I still love the game, but has the Billy Chapel inside of me diminished?

My boredom extends much further than the game of baseball. I am merely the type of person who demands change; repetition brings me down, and I have recently found baseball to be entirely too repetitive. Sure, the trade deadline just passed, some great trades were made, and teams now find themselves in the early stages of pennant races. This year should be one of the most exciting years for pennant races; every division aside from the American League West (where Seattle is currently 19 games ahead of the rest of the pack) should offer a fantastic story. But isn't every year one of the best years for pennant races? It's the same old song and dance

However, for those of you who belittle baseball in favor of the more exciting sports such as football or basketball, I say those too are entirely too boring and repetitive. Let's generalize: American sports are as a whole much more boring than the types of sports offered by other countries. While we ponder whether an athlete will be traded, or if another athlete is doing drugs, the citizens of the United Kingdom fear for their lives every time they go to a football (soccer) match. In Spain, spectators are able to attend a sporting event where the athlete runs around a ring in sweet, puffy, colorful clothes being chased by a huge bull. In Latin America, citizens are offered the chance to sit on cheap wooden bleachers and bet on which rooster will kill the other.

The element of death simply doesn't exist in traditional American sports the way it does in other countries. Some may pass this off as the United States simply being a more developed and tasteful country. I say this is nonsense. Back in the day, the most developed civilization -- Rome -- used gladiatorial competitions as the primary source of entertainment. And if you tell me you think gladiatorial competitions are brutish and barbaric, you are only saying this to align yourself with the ridiculous notion of safety that has somehow become ingrained in American professional sports.

This is why the XFL was in theory a fabulous idea (much like communism), but Vince McMahon simply did not take the league to the extreme it should have been taken. The XFL was too similar to the NFL and NCAA; there should have been absolute reckless abandon. I guarantee people would have watched.

In order to relieve the boredom and repetition of baseball, therefore, I have several proposals. Obviously, charging the mound and throwing at batters should be encouraged. We all love a good rumble, so why not have more of them. However, the traditional bench-clearing brawls are nothing more than random shoving. Batters should be allowed -- no, forced -- to take their bat with them to the mound. Think about it, the hitter is charging right into six opposing infielders, and should accordingly be allowed to defend himself. If the batter simply doesn't want to engage in this sort of chaos, he can challenge the pitcher to a duel. Nothing but fists, one on one.

My second proposal is to create an element of danger for the crowd. The absurdly placed screens behind home plate should be removed. If you're willing to sit behind home plate, you must be willing to accept the fact that you may be pelted with a foul tip or wild pitch. Naturally, the spectators would be allowed to bring whatever protective gear they wish: helmets, shoulder pads, medieval shields.

On the other hand, MLB could just use revenue sharing and salary caps to make the game more exciting; that might work too.