Updated: Oct 19, 2021
One of the main issues surrounding the game of baseball is getting more and more people involved. We have our own issues in the United States, but baseball hardly exists in many countries due to the immense cost it requires for things like a field and equipment. Think about other sports, a basketball hoop is easy to erect and you can get away with a small space. In soccer, all you really need is a ball. Maybe baseball should try to find ways to make it more accessible to all types of people. Surprisingly, they already have.
Allow me to introduce you to 5 vs 5 baseball. All the space you need is an 1,800 x 1,800 (59 ft) square for the playing area which makes it perfect for urban areas. After this, all you need to play is a short fence and a rubber ball, similar to a lacrosse ball, and ten people. The rules are simple, the hitter must hit the ball onto the ground before it reaches the fence and after that, baseball is played pretty much as normal. There are only five innings which make the games go by much quicker, especially due to the fact that this version of the game is played without a pitcher.
The World Baseball and Softball Confederation are very excited about this new form of “baseball” because it will bring the sport into areas that have been excluded from the game for a long time. This new idea of baseball definitely has the potential to give the sport more recognition and spark more interest. International recognition is never a bad thing. If we can get people to fall in love with 5 vs 5 baseball, the chances of them falling in love with traditional baseball are much more likely. This, then, leads to them sporting hats and jerseys from their favorite MLB, KBO, or NPR teams. This is a win, win for everyone involved.
Many people are opposed to this new form of baseball because it's not traditional baseball, and, to many, it doesn't feel like "real" baseball; I agree. For me, it is not "real" baseball because "real" baseball requires a pitcher, an element that is lacking in the 5 v 5 version. I also agree that it is not the traditional form of baseball, and it most definitely will not be incorporated into any current form of professional baseball. However, people need to understand that the point of this game is to bring the sport to everyone, everywhere. The goal is not to develop a professional player, but it is to grow a recreational sport so that people can relate to what they watch on TV.
This is exactly what the game of baseball needs. The baseball community needs an easy way to play where kids can call up their friends and ask to play a pickup game regardless of where they live. This ability to call up your friends for a "pickup" game is common for basketball and soccer but just isn't practical for traditional baseball. While I would always prefer traditional baseball, I would never turn down a chance at playing a game of baseball 5. Just because the two sports aren't the same doesn't mean we should push baseball 5 aside; give it a chance and respect it for its true purpose, to grow inclusivity in the baseball community around the world.