Dubuque: What would baseball look like if it were modeled after chess?

From Patrick Dubuque at Baseball Prospectus on May 10, 2018:

Last week over at ESPN, one Sam Miller devoted a week to imagining radical changes to the grand old sport of baseball, and considered the potential repercussions. It seems strange at first blush to think that we would take this pastime we love, and then feel compelled to alter it. But it’s only as strange as reading a book and thinking, “I wonder what would happen if I wrote one of these.” People don’t always create for the purpose of utility; they create to feel creative. Baseball is as fine a canvas as any.

Sometimes it’s actually kind of amazing that we’re still playing baseball after 150 years. Oh, sure, each new season contains a discrete set of individuals with individual talents and storylines, as well as the Cincinnati Reds franchise. But with the exception of minor rules tweaks and advancements, they all pretty much do the same things, over and over. We haven’t even figured out how to make robots or adorable dogs play it for us. And then you think about chess, which has been around in its modern form for more than half a millennia, and it’s still the same 32 pieces in the same 32 places.

Chess is still doing just fine, but every once in a while someone gets a notion to try and spice it up a little bit, fiddle with the basic structure of the game in order to breathe new life in it. These variants are nearly always diversions at best; few if any offer any real strategic value to a veteran player other than “let’s see how good you are at chess now that chess is different.” But it’s just that sentiment that makes the exercise attractive: Chess, particularly at the tournament level, remains crushingly infinite and yet requires more digging than ever to reach its mysteries. Well-worn openings, which the masters call “book,” demand intense memorization and attention to the latest developments and ideas. It’s exhausting, and it makes it easy to understand the attraction of a blank, if slightly misshapen, slate. It also makes the whole exercise a perfect fit for Short Relief, honestly. Please enjoy this series of what baseball would look like if it were modeled after different chess variants.

Read the full article here: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/39856/long-relief-getting-book/

Originally published: May 10, 2018. Last Updated: May 10, 2018.