MLB Should Broadcast Its Own Version of HORSE

With no sports on the horizon in the near-term, the NBA is looking for creative ways to keep fans entertained. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and ESPN are working to televise a game of HORSE:

Discussions have been ongoing among the NBA, NBPA and ESPN about a competition among several players in isolation — presumably using home gyms — that would include them competing shot for shot in the traditional playground game, sources said.

It’s now been 27 years, but the most famous game of HORSE was a fictional one from a McDonald’s commercial that featured Michael Jordan and Larry Bird:

It’s tough to know exactly how compelling a live game of HORSE might be. If it made for great television, one would think we would have already seen games televised before. Of course, under normal circumstances, there is considerably more alternative programming in the form of meaningful live sporting events to fill the void, not to mention professional athletes who are either focused on their current season, enjoying rest, or preparing for a new season. We are not living under normal circumstances. In any event, I’m sure there is at least some level of interest in a game of HORSE, which got me thinking: What is the baseball equivalent, and what might we broadcast as we wait for games to resume?

But it turns out that it is difficult to construct a similar game for baseball. The obvious response is a home run derby, but the All-Star break’s standard exhibition is not really feasible given that a stadium is necessary, and a stadium would require a decent number of employees who likely would have to violate social distancing rules. HORSE works for basketball because many NBA players have home gyms, or at a minimum driveways where they can film themselves playing. Alternatively, a small number of cameras could be set up while limiting human interaction. The game’s scale lends itself to the moment. To find a baseball equivalent, we need to think small.

And so, my idea is fairly simple. We combine this:

With this:

And this:

What do we get when we combine the Home Run Derby, trick shots, and skee-ball? The game will require a backyard of some sort, with dimensions something close to a major league infield. Scattered throughout the 90 feet by 90 feet diamond will be buckets. A five gallon bucket should do the job. I had thought originally about using garbage cans as those would make for easier targets, but that seemed a little on the nose given certain offseason investigations.

Actions associated with these buckets will be assigned different point values, with hitting the bucket worth a certain number of points and actually going in the bucket worth considerably more. We don’t have pitchers so batters could use a tee or toss the ball to themselves in the air. The field with buckets might look something like this:

There could be more or fewer buckets depending on our preference, or we could use a different point system entirely, but the rather crude drawing provides some idea of how the field would be set up. I like the name “Home Bucket Derby” because it sounds like Home Run Derby, except with buckets and the players would actually be at home. Everyone stay at home. A timing element would be a good addition to keep things moving and add stakes, with players given 60 seconds and a maximum of 20 balls to hit. There would be some strategy involved, as a player going for all easy targets accumulates points, but can also be easily overtaken by their opponent hitting just a few of the more difficult buckets.

The game would work equally well as a throwing game; perhaps we could have a round of each or that endeavor would make for a separate category. These are issues of gameplay that could be pretty easily worked out. The much more difficult issue is the logistics of pulling something off like this while maintaining the safety precautions necessary for all involved. Putting together even small video productions requires many people to work together and sacrifices might need to be made for sound and video quality. Still, I think it could offer a diversion. This is a mostly silly endeavor, not unlike HORSE, but it could be fun and provide fans and players a little bit of what we’ve all been missing.





Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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John Elway
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Hay Craig, that’s a great idea! Even if it’s not furlong, I’d love to trot something like this out there to spur some new interest in baseball right now.

Just neighing.

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Do we have stats on how many horse-puns Mr Elway is able to horseshoe in per post? 5 seems like a pretty high bar