The baseball chattering class is all twittered up over apparent pitching dominance. The Mets, reacting to the “lack of offense,” are moving in the fences at Citi Field. Commentators and callers on MLB radio urge other teams to do the same.
The last time this panic took hold we got the steroid era and cheap homers, as everyone looked the other way. Before that, in the late sixties when pitching held sway, baseball cut the mound from 15 inches to 10. Then, in 1973, the junior circuit foisted the abominable designated hitter on the game.
Few fans—even the historically conscious—have heard of Owen Wilson. He played for the Pirates from 1908 to 1916. In 1912 he hit 36 triples, still the single-season record by far. It was the dead-ball era; homers were as rare as rational Republicans. Wilson blasted his triples into the gaps and over the heads of outfielders in spacious Forbes Field. He and the likes of Sam Crawford (309 lifetime triples) and Ty Cobb created havoc on the base paths and panic in the vast outfields of the era. Fans loved watching out fielders frantically chasing balls to the far reaches of the fences while a Wilson or Cobb churned around the bases.
Moving in the fences will make for more offense in the form of cheap homers, but consider this: home runs, while momentarily jolting the dulled senses of the bored “fan,” are the end of action. If more offense with action is what you want, then MOVE THE FENCES BACK.
With spacious outfields you’ll get more hitting—more singles, doubles and triples. Fewer homers for sure, but more excitement. I recommend a minimum of 350 feet down the lines, 420 feet in the power alleys, and 450 feet in dead center.
Of course, this is just another pipe dream from an obscure blogger. I may be a dreamer, but I’m no idiot. The owners would never rip out several rows of $eats to accommodate the wise counsel of Red Stitches. So prepare for more cheap homers and jogs around the bases.