In the past decade, the interest for baseball has been declining. The reason? It is hard to think of just one reason. But when even hardcore baseball fans say the game has become boring, you know something is wrong. Even in the USA there are attempts to speed up the game, to make the game more interesting.
Recently, someone in the Netherlands wrote a manifest to make baseball more interesting. In thirty-five points, he tried to explain how baseball could be more fun and draw more fans. In general I did not agree with the manifest but hey, it is an attempt.
The biggest champion of changes in baseball are the Savannah Bananas. This team from the collegiate wood bat league the Coastal Plain League, has been trying out a new brand of baseball: Banana Ball. I realize that the purists among the baseball fans will be disgusted by it but the fans in Savannah love it. Just have a look at this video and perhaps you understand why.
Since their inauguration in 2016, the year after MiLB’s Savannah SandGnats left town, the games of the Bananas were sellouts. And that has a reason. The players interact with the fans. Fans are (literally) part of the game. The players perform on the field as well. There is plenty of entertainment during the games.
The Banana Ball brand has nine rules that make games interesting (according to the Bananas’ owner):
The abovementioned rules are explained in a string of videos you can see below.
I think I can call myself a baseball purist. The game was intended to play at an easy pace. Nine innings, no speeding up the game, no pitch clock, no time limit, etc. I am aghast at the attempts by the WBSC to play seven-inning baseball games. If I want to see seven-inning games, I go to see a softball game.
But then again, this Banana Ball, it is loved by the fans. And if it is loved by the fans (and the players as well), why isn’t this worth a try? Even I, as a baseball purist, say: “If this will bring back the fans to the ballpark, why not.” If we are not doing anything to stop the decline of interest, baseball is going to die slowly.
I still prefer to watch a game on a summer afternoon, seeing the cat-and-mouse-game between the pitcher and the batter. I love to see a nice double play or even triple play. Play the game as it was meant to be. But once again, perhaps it is worth to give Banana Ball a try. Baseball needs every help it can get.