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What If the MLB Inherited Banana Ball Rules?

I remember the days when I would watch Ozzie Smith run to his position at shortstop by doing backflips or Bo Jackson running across the outfield wall after a catch was made, or even breaking a bat over his head after a strikeout and I am sure if baseball fans sit down and think, they can remember a play that was made that maybe seemed a bit showy but was actually fun to watch.

I mean, baseball is an entertainment sport as all sports are, but it’s also special when you sit down to watch and hope to see something spectacular.

Like great pitching, timely home runs, stolen bases, amazing catches, walk off wins, playoff wins and even World Series games are what I live for when watching the game I love, but I never thought that if a player did something extra on the field that could be said to be showy, that it would dimmish the sport in any way, Why?!,  because its still entertainment.

Tricks in the game have always been part of the baseball in some way and yes, there are a few that have no place in the game, but shouldn’t the game be as fun to watch as much as it is to play.

This will be a topic on our podcast one day soon, because we are all losing our youth to the fast pace of the internet giants, and a lot of young kids refuse to sit down to watch a whole baseball game because in their own words, its boring.

BORING!!! OMG, how could a kid even say that. This is the greatest sport on the planet; what would make them think its boring?

Well if I really had to think about it, most kids now a days need instant excitement in their lives as they are constantly playing video games or on their electronic devices and their minds are always running. Most of the kids that tell me its boring, do not have any problem with playing the game, they just can’t sit through one. And I am not a child phycologist by any means, I am just sharing what I have heard on my baseball teams with the ages 12-15.  That is a very vital age to not want to watch a sport you actually play.

I even called around to other areas of the country to see if maybe its just a SWFL thing, since we do not have our own pro baseball team here other than the Minnesota Twins Class A affiliate the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.  It’s awesome to have a local team, even if its on the minor league level, but even at a recent trip to the stadium, the kids were in and out of their seats faster than it took to get the field ready for the game. The response was the same from my friends around the country, the kiddos are happy not having to watch a game, not even on TV.

So what is the answer to help MLB to really hone in their younger fans and even some older ones that are losing patience with the play of the game.

Do they inherit maybe some of what Jesse Cole has done and also realized what it will take to bring the fans back to the baseball game and in record numbers?

I mean, I witnessed my first Banana Ball game in Tampa on April 29th, and I honestly can not wait to go back and introduce the game to my two sons. Is it real baseball? Well to the true baseball fans, nope its not, but its more entertaining than the real baseball games from the eyes of the youth. And this was said to me recently and most likely true, the more Banana Ball becomes known and grows in popularity, the MLB will need to embrace some it of to just keep growing their fan base. Yup makes sense to me too.

So I thought it would be interesting to see what rules the MLB could implement to entertain those fans that just can’t sit through one inning, let alone a full game.

Banana Ball Rules

My take on what it can look like or not on the MLB side.

Rule #1, Win The Inning, Get The Point

Hey that may work at the MLB level, as they are all about speeding up the games. So imagine there is one out and the tying run on third and go ahead run on second and your in the bottom of the first inning. A base hit drives in both runs, and the home team has just walked off the inning and the crowd goes wild and you still have approximately eight innings to go. Plus the home team just earned a point. The home team didn’t even need to get to three outs. Crowds would be awake every single inning wanting that adrenaline rush. Its makes the whole game exciting even to kids and what better way to speed up the game.

Rule #2, Two Hour Limit

The MLB is already speeding up the game with the time clock and the ridiculous idea that teams are to let the league know 24 hours in advance to warn against a player getting a prolonged standing ovation so not to delay the game and mess with the clock. So with the two hour limit, the Bananas are in most cases getting games through nine innings. Even with all the on-field activities. I know of some youth tournaments now that have the drop time rule and if the time ends and you have not played a full inning, the game reverts back to the previous inning and score and negates any rally that may have happened in that lost inning. So maybe MLB can use the Banana Ball two hour limit and games will be guaranteed a set time to end barring any extra time needed in case of a tie.

Rule #3, No Stepping Out of the Box

The MLB actually has this rule that states that a batter can only call time out once per plate appearance and he can step out of the box after any pitch as long as he is ready and alert to the pitcher with eight seconds remaining on the clock.  In the MLB and Banana Ball a strike is called on a batter if he steps out, so they share the same rule mostly.  I witnessed that in Tampa, as one of the retired MLB players forgot the rules and stepped out and the Dancing Umpire, Vincent Chapman, called him out. It was hilarious to watch as the MLB batter laughed it off also, as he walked to his dugout. Still good idea to keep the game flowing by making sure batters are not taking their time getting into the box or stepping out to make sure they look good on TV.

Rule #4,  No Bunting

That is one rule I can’t really accept as I love to watch a great placed bunt down the base lines and watch the ball players try and beat out the play.  Or even a squeeze play that scores a run and if you think about it, it can help the home team gain the advantage if they needed that point to win the inning. But I get that Banana Ball hates bunting (smile). Gotta keep this in the MLB for sure.

Rule #5, Batters Can Steal First

Now why wouldn’t Major League Baseball want this rule. Imagine the excitement of watching a pitcher throw a passed ball and the runner sprints to first and its not even a dropped third strike.  Now there isn’t any guarantee that a runner will actually be safe, and most power hitters may decline as it takes away their chances of hitting a bomb over the fence. But this rule just adds a bit more excitement to the game as fans will also egg on a batter to steal if the ball gets away.

Rule #6, No Walks Allowed

Whoa, hold up Nelly!! No Walks? So per the Banana Rules above, if the pitcher walks a batter, the batter sprints towards first and all the defensive players must all touch the ball once before the ball becomes live. The runner can advance to any base that they can reach and the ball does not have to touch the pitcher or catcher. How exciting will that be to preventing walks, and also watching the fielders all try and touch the ball and keep the runner from rounding the bases. Now this could become much if the pitcher keeps walking batters, but then maybe he won’t. You want the fans engaged, and to see that happening more than once an inning and the fans will be really engaged, but some may not be too happy if runs keep scoring from lack of fielders making the ball live. Probably won’t be a fan favorite if your the home team and can’t successfully implement the play.

Rule #7, No Mound Visit Allowed

Well this rule can sometimes hurt if the pitcher may need some reassurance or a time out to talk with the pitching coach to make sure the pitcher is staying on track with his mechanics. If the game needs to stay within the two-hour limit, removing mound visits makes sense, but when a MLB team is paying a pitcher millions of dollars a year, and they are rattled, the owners will want their coaching staff to see what’s going on. This would be a tough rule to pass through the MLB.

Rule #8, If a Fan Catches a Foul Ball, Its An Out

Just imagine its Game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the ninth and the tying and winning runs are on base and here comes Aaron Judge or Pete Alonso and the count is 3-2. Either batter hits a foul ball into the stands and a fan reaches out and cleanly catches the ball and the batter is out.  First of all, that would be the worse way to end the series, and two that fan may never get out of the stadium alive. This is one rule that would be interesting to watch, but we know would NEVER happen in a none-Banana Ball style game.

Rule #9, Showdown Tiebreaker

Right now if a game is tied in the MLB, they mimic little league and use the Texas Tiebreaker rule.  The rule states that if the game goes into extra innings, then the last batted out from the previous inning, starts on second with no outs. This gives teams a better opportunity to score a run and not prolong the misery if they can’t score. I actually enjoyed the New York Mets and Houston Astros game during the 1986 NLCS that went 16 innings as the Mets pulled off the late inning victory. That can still happen now, especially if the teams don’t score the run from second. But with the Banana Ball style of extra inning game, it actually gets even more exciting as you only have a pitcher, catcher and one fielder to prevent a batter from sprinting around the bases and scoring on a batted ball. How exciting would that showdown be with Mike Trout in Center Field, trying to retrieve a ball in the gap and prevent the runner from scoring.  It gets worse in round two in Banana Ball as the fielder is removed and its up to the pitcher to strike out the batter to prevent a trip around the bases. Now with this rule, the MLB has the fans fully engaged and on the edge of their seats more than any other games.

The rules above seem too farfetched to even be true until you visit a Savannah Banana baseball game and watch it all live and actually being implemented. So is it out of the question to one day see some of these rules implemented in a MLB game, probably so, but look around the league and watch close because ball players are starting to feel the Banana Ball fever and Bananaisms as Bananas manager Tyler Gillum stated recently on Twitter.

I guess the ultimate question is, will MLB allow it to continue or create a new rule against it?

Well I hope they realize soon that in order to keep the fans engaged, they need to make them truly feel like they are part of the game. The Fan First approach by the Savannah Bananas is successfully working and fans are responding to it by arriving in crowds, expecting smiles and a good time and walking away wanting more.

That is key to any sports team, especially if the play on the field is keeping fans away.

 

Photo Courtesy of SavannahBananas.com and Google

Videos: MLB Youtube Page

David is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Legends On Deck®, as well as a Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. David was a Senior Editor for MetsMerizedOnline.com, MetsMinors.net and Contributor for Hardballchat.com that spanned from 2010 to 2014. David made his MLB Debut as a writer in June 2014, while covering the NY Mets at Citi Field, for MetsmerizedOnline.com. David also managed his Cape Coral 16U Rec Ball team for the past two seasons and on May 13, 2024 they won their league Championship. On May 15th, David started the first ever Legends on Deck 16U Travel Baseball team in SWFL. David's passion is teaching the game he loves to the future Legends of Tomorrow as well as making available a website that people can have fun sharing and reading. David is also passionate about his career as a Mortgage Loan Officer which allows him to help many families reach their dreams of owning a home. Connect with David via his Social Media pages as he loves to chat all about baseball.

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