If I were to right an ode to baseball and try to explain the reasons I adore the game and have for so long, I would begin here: It comes loaded with sustained tension. There are many reasons for this. It's one of the few sports where the defense initiates play. That right there gives the first stretch of tension -- the defense is about to decide the pitch that is coming, where fielders are standing, all before the offense gets a say. And then in that moment -- anything can happen. Think of the possible outcomes, so many of which are exciting:
-- A hard groundball that becomes a dazzling play.
-- A deep line drive to the gap that becomes a diving catch.
-- A ball down the line that maybe possibly could be fair ... or foul.
-- A hard shot into the corner for a triple.
-- A double.
-- A curveball for a strikeout.
-- Or, a ball over the wall -- and fireworks.
You want to see someone who is at their first baseball game go wide-eyed, watch them after they see their first home run and what happens and the commotion after that. I am not keen on removing that entirely from the game. I know you brought this up as a thought exercise, and it's cool, but David Freese' ground-rule double to put him on second in Game 6 of the World Series doesn't have the same majesty of David Freese's walk-off homer to see you tomorrow night.
And it's all of those possibilities that make the game and that sustained tension so fascinating for me. We're just not seeing all of those possibilities with the same regularity because hitters have changed. Pitchers are overpowering. So the game has to shift a bit, and it's not by taking away more possible outcomes, it's by restoring some. When the defense has the ball, sets its fielders, and gets ready to throw the reason we watch is because there is a kaleidoscope of options and the change right there, right there as as the ball slips from the fingertips of the pitcher, that we see something we haven't before.