Collier’s Weekly: MLB’s Rule Changes Are Great. Let’s Plus Up the Promotions, Too
Here's a modest series of proposals — some practical, some ridiculous — for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ upcoming promotional schedule.
As baseball season arrives in Pittsburgh — a week ago, but we were certainly in no hurry — it brings with it some of the most significant rule changes in the history of Major League Baseball.
Out of a desire to reduce the time of the average baseball game (from interminable to merely prolonged), the sports tsars who pull the strings of America’s erstwhile pastime have implemented a series of tweaks. Thus far, these new rules — the most notable of which, a clock limiting the time between pitches, was fully worked out by the NBA in 1954 yet only arrived on the diamond this month — have done their job, reducing the time of the average game by about half an hour.
It’s a victory for people who want things to be moderately more enjoyable than they already are.
So let’s keep going: Let’s propose some rule changes for promotional nights.
I know, I know: We love the old standards. Free T-shirts that are probably too small for the recipient (and definitely have a prominent corporate-sponsor logo placed somewhere around the third vertebrae). Bobbleheads for players who, with any luck, will remain in the depicted uniform for at least another year or two. Fireworks. Constant, unrelenting fireworks.
But we can do better. Here are my five proposed rule changes for baseball whatnot.
- No more shirt giveaways. Clothing giveaways must be semi-ironic hats, sweatpants and/or leggings.
Look, I know we all love free shirts, but c’mon. I think I own 100 T-shirts. On the other hand, who doesn’t want a pair of Pirate Parrot leggings or a jaunty newsboy cap with the ’80s mustache Pirate on the top? (Exceptions can be made for button-ups.)
- Fireworks displays must occur during inning breaks.
Why only let the fans at home off the hook early? While fireworks displays are a beloved Pittsburgh treasure on par only with putting french fries in unexpected places, it stretches the night out to watch a full baseball game, wait 20 minutes for the grounds crew to apply branded tarps and then watch a half-hour fireworks show. There are no fewer than 16 breaks in play in a Major League Baseball game. Shoot off some whirligigs then. (I know the players are warming up, but they’re professionals. They can languidly toss a ball back and forth beneath some explosions.)
- Release the hounds.
On any Pup Night, one designated dog is released into Center Field while the home team is at bat. Until an outfielder manages to chase the dog down and give them a tummy rub, runners may advance.
- Each club is allowed one bobblehead per season.
Let me name some of the Pittsburgh Pirates who have received bobbleheads in the PNC Park era: Pokey Reese; Craig Wilson; Tom Gorzelanny; Jordy Mercer; Jalapeño Hannah. If you don’t remember any of those competitors — OK, fine, we all know Hannah — you’re like 99.9% of Pirates fans. Teams are permitted one bobblehead per year, depicting a current player or Hall of Famer. If you must hand out other merchandise depicting the current lineup, that’s why we’ve had baseball cards for the past century and a half.
- Theme nights must extend to the team itself.
I don’t want you declaring it “Star Wars” night then doing nothing but playing “The Imperial March” when the opposing team takes the field. If it’s “Star Wars” night, dress the team up like C-3PO. You’d sell millions in replica jerseys. And if the uniforms are hilariously unsuited to play … so much the better.