In his card game, Baseball Highlights 2045 (BH2045), designer Mike Fitzgerald starts with this premise:
American baseball was on its last legs as a spectator sport. Football had become the predominant national pastime.
Some might say that this situation actually applies today!
BH2045 provides a light-hearted response to this dire(?) situation in an abstract card game. In an effort to attract more fans, games are shortened to six innings and robotic players added to the lineups, to the point where human players are struggling to even stay in the league.
My current tabletop baseball project applies this idea to PLAAY games HMB. Think of it as a prequel to BH2045, with a rules overhaul but no robotic players yet. Here's what I'm doing.
Each team (like in football) fields offensive and defensive teams.
Offense: The lineup consists of six batters only - all designated hitters. Fans like hitting! Batters want to hit!
- The third spot in the lineup is considered the CLEAN-UP batter.
- No bunting: By popular demand, bunting has been banned.
Player usage: black-star players can play every game; white-star players can be used in one game per series; no-star players are not used at all.
Defense: All the normal fielding positions are manned, but fielders are prohibited from batting. Because they are all specialists on defense, they are all rated GOLD and ACTIVE (anyone worse than that wouldn't make the team)! Since fielding is generic, there is no need to assign named players to defense. But they can still make errors, or throw to the wrong base sometimes. Infield Drama and Outfield Drama are much less dramatic under these rules.
Umpires: There are no human umpires on the field. Ball and strike calls have been automated. Base umpiring is done by video replay (every call). No arguments with umpires are possible. All umpiring is rated STRICT and RESPECTED.
Pitching: Pitchers never bat, but they do have to field for themselves (using printed defense rating). Very few pitchers are GOLD on defense, so it could be that most errors are commited by pitchers.
Because starting pitchers have to work harder in facing all designated hitters, the normal fatigue distance for starters is reduced by one, i.e. FRESH for the the first two innings; SEMI-FRESH for the next two. If pitching a shutout, a pitcher remains SEMI-FRESH after the 4th inning until he gives up a run.
A starting pitcher is required to stay in the game through the 4th inning unless he reaches full STRUGGLER status by allowing four consecutive base runners or 6 or more runs (under the Advanced Options Fatigue rule).
There is no change to relief-pitcher freshness rule as written: FRESH one inning, then SEMI-FRESH for one more. Maximum of two innings per game for each reliever.
Game length: Six-innings. No extra innings. Tied games are allowed.
Standings points: 2 for a win, 1 for a tie.
They played 140 games in the 1970 IL. These rules will speed the season along, since innings per game is reduced by a third. The focus will be on the best hitters and pitchers. Will having an all-GOLD defense supress the offense? Will the lack of SAD-SACK and UTILITY batters increase it?
In summary, what I'm doing with this league is have separate offensive and defensive squads on each team. The offensive players are strictly designated hitters (who never play defense) and the position players (p, c, 1b, 2b, ss, 3b, lf, cf, rf) never come to bat.
I use a 6-man batting order because that's the minimum necessary to avoid a bat-around situation where the next batter due up might still be on base after reaching earlier in the inning (i.e. with a 6-man batting order that problem never arises).