When I saw your cover about shaking up sports, I thought, "Cool idea." Then, I opened up the paper and saw that your first idea was a salary cap for baseball. Really original and forward-thinking idea, that salary cap. It's a plan to appease boring people in cities that don't matter.
Here are my suggestions for baseball.
1) Institute soccer-style relegation: is there anyone who needs to see the Cincinnati Reds or Washington Nationals pretend to be a major-league product? Soccer has a way of dealing with slackers: banish them to lower divisions.
2) Get rid of interleague play: baseball used to have the only All-Star contest that regularly churned out a good game. Why? Because it involved a certain amount of mystery. MLB may claim interleague play does well at the gate during the season, but it detracts massively from the game's biggest showcases.
3) Reorganize the leagues already: if you were constructing two separate leagues to play a single sport, what would be the single most important factor in setting up those leagues? Give yourself a cigar if you answered "geography."
4) Teams only get one mid-inning pitcher change per game: baseball's not meant to be constant action, but an endless parade of pitching changes is more than any fan can take.
5) Play the World Baseball Classic in the middle of the season — or just make it part of the Olympics: no team wants their pitchers anywhere near this thing as it's currently constructed, throwing in anger a month before they're normally asked to do it.
6) No teams get exclusive rights to a media market: it's been said the New York metropolitan area could support a half dozen teams. Well, let's test that out.
Baseball absolutely needs a salary cap. The Yankees spent 10 times what the Marlins did last year, which is wrong on both ends. Yankee revenues will double this season due to the new park, and so they will be able to afford a $400 million payroll.
Nottingham, New Hampshire
If you want to cut down or eliminate throws to first base, just make a rule banning or limiting throws to first base. Don't go at it sideways by eliminating leads.
If you stop players from leading off, you will almost completely eliminate stolen bases, reduce overall scoring, and will vastly decrease the number of players going first-to-third on a single. In order to get rid of one thing you think makes the game less exciting, you will end up making the game less exciting in three or more other ways. It's a bad bargain.
Thanks for your article on rule changes that would improve sports. It contained many good ideas (as for using real swords in fencing, one idea I once heard that would actually make the Tour de France worth watching: shoot the guy who comes in last).
However, clearly the stupidest, worst, most terrible rule in sports is baseball's "blocking the plate." It makes no sense, goes against the logic of the game, and is so dangerous that someone almost always gets hurt. There is no need for any rule change, though: simply umpire it like any other bag.
As for football overtime — sorry, the college version is silly, not watchable, and not football. There is a much simpler, more elegant solution. We arbitrarily choose the 30-yard line for college's "silly session," so tell the guy who wins the coin toss he will be getting the ball on the 13. Or whatever greater football minds than mine would consider a 50-50 shot. Then play regular football.
Cranston, Rhode Island