Granite Geek: It's Time to Shake Up the Game of Baseball

Jul 4, 2017

Comedian George Carlin once said, “Baseball is the only sport that appears backward in a mirror.” In The Concord Monitor this week, Granite Geek David Brooks has been writing about what it would be like to turn America’s pastime on its head. Instead of running to first base, what if batters could choose to run to either first or third base?

Brooks spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello to defend this modest proposal.

David, first of all, what are you doing?

I am disrupting, because if you disrupt things, investors will throw money at you [laughs].

Baseball’s been through a lot of changes. In recent years, umpires have started using instant replay, a rule was changed around intentional walks, and now, you want to—do what exactly?

I want to make it far more interesting, because, let’s face it, it’s kind of boring, it’s losing an audience, it’s just not a twenty-first century sport. The changes you’ve mentioned, they’re little dinky stuff, so we need to really change it. So I came up with one rule change that would revolutionize the sport.

So you’re a batter, you’re waiting for the pitch, and when you swing and make contact—

If there’s nobody on base.

If there’s nobody on base, you can choose whether you want to go—

Clockwise or counterclockwise! It’s the Coriolis effect—of course the Coriolis effect is why hurricane’s spin one way north of the equator and the other way south of the equator—well this is like the Coriolis effect for baseball.  It will allow  base runners to decide which way they want to run depending on, perhaps, the way the infield is set up or their own particular preferences.

I am always reluctant to change this game, because this is my favorite sport. So any proposal to change it has a high hurdle to clear for me. But I’ve got to admit though that this change  you’re proposing seems like another mental element.

Exactly, because not only would you have to keep track of the things you normally have to keep track of in baseball, you have to keep track of rotational geometry. Are we going clockwise or counterclockwise with this particular batter?

And by the way, once a batter goes one way, the next person has to follow in that direction. So not only do you have to know your own preference, you have to know what the person ahead of you is doing. If you’re the outfielder and you’re trying to throw out a base runner, you have to remember, is this a counterclockwise or a clockwise guy? If you’re the infielder, you can’t have first basemen who can hardly take three steps at a time. They might turn into third basemen depending on which way the guy goes.

It radically alters the entire game—it makes it really exciting.

I mean, if you have a left-handed pitcher, you may want to run to third base, because the pitcher will have an easier time picking you off at first base.

Exactly, and just think of the new statistics. The only reason anybody pays any attention to baseball is because it has great statistics, right, in fantasy leagues and stuff. Well you’d have this whole new category of statistics. You’d have batting averages and power averages going both left and going right. You’d have your fantasy league and you’d have to make sure you have enough people who can run this way or that way.

The three point line in basketball completely altered the game and saved it from death. I think this will save baseball from death too.

I was worried about the statistics of this, because as soon as you change something you create a pre- and a post-era, and it’s no longer an apples to apples comparison.

Wah, wah, wah, so what? Come on, give me a break. This is sports! This is a bunch of guys in their pajamas chasing a ball. Don’t get carried away about it.

I can’t believe you’d say baseball is boring.

I like baseball parks—Fenway’s great, the Fisher Cats stadium [in Manchester] is great it’s just if they didn’t do all that stuff on the field it would be much more interesting.

There’s no question that, you know, it is not a sport that really grabs people these days. So this would do it.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like it the way it is. I would be interested in seeing—I don’t know, maybe the all-star game.

That’s good, remember when they created the ABA back when the NBA was floundering, and they had the really short shorts and the colored ball? Maybe they could have a separate major league baseball and they could it start it like that, and then it will take over and the rule will be adopted as the three-point line was adopted.

And I’m offering it for free, even though I’m sure this is a route to massive wealth, I’m offering it for free to the world.

What if NASCAR approaches you and says, hey what if we decide to just have one car go the other way. What do you think?

Well, I have watched demolition derbies and those are a lot of fun, so maybe they can do something like that.