Baseball - Something…ANYTHING…to elminate those soul-numbing failed pickoff wars. I defy anyone to explain to me what a 15 minute game of catch adds to the sport. My suggestion would be that a second failed pickoff attempt on the same at-bat results in all runners advancing, the same as a balk. Also, I really think there needs to be some kind of handicap placed on a batter who fouls off with 2 strikes, not just if he bunts. Nothing drastic; opposite side of the bag, one foot touching the back of the box, something like that. I just don’t like the idea of a batter being able to hack and slash as much as he wants without penalty. (It’s a little easier to tolerate in cricket due to the bowler rotation, but that’s another issue.)
Also, if the home team is ahead after 8 innings, it bats first in the 9th. There sometimes being a bottom of the 9th and sometimes not never made any sense to me. Eliminate any possible controversy about 8- or 9-inning complete games, no-hitters, etc.
And why is it a ground rule double in the first place? If it’s nearly a home run, it should be worth three bases. Which also eliminates the issue of whether a runner on third can score or not.
Soccer - I doubt there will ever be a practical offsides rule for this sport, so let me just reiterate an old suggestion that all displays of horrible sportsmanship be penalized. If the NFL can define Unsportsmanlike Conduct, so can the greatest game. In particular, faking an injury should be an automatic red card, no questions asked. That penny-ante crap has no place in a junior varsity league, much less the World Cup.
Basketball - Get rid of all the frustration about travelling/double dribbling not being called by outlawing the need for dribbling. Look, guys, it started out as a gimmick. There’s nothing at all sacrosanct about it. If easy turnovers are that freaking important, make the ball harder or slipperier or something.
Tennis - Either a serve that clips the top of the net is a do-over or it isn’t. Nobody tries to get a let, for crying out loud, so keep it consistent and don’t unduly punish the server.
Advantage and win by two should be optional at all nonprofessional levels. It may surprise some of you, but a lot of tennis players aren’t trying to be the #1 Ultra Macho Big Strong Dominating Manly Man. Some of them even want to be off the court in a reasonable time, believe it or not. I’d also support a change of all best of 5 non Grand Slam events to be changed to best of 3 with 9 games a set. Still requires stamina, but not nearly as murderous as the really big events.
And Christ almighty, “love means nothing” was cute maybe SEVENTY YEARS AGO. Trust me, the world will not come to an end if we use “zero”, “one”, “two”, and “three” for something other than tiebreakers. I mean, come on…Love, 15, 30, 40? How is that not an embarrassment?
Gymnastics, figure skating, ballroom dancing, anything with the word “synchronized”, et al - Look, it’s really very simple. You finish in the top three of an event requiring athletic ability, you get a medal. You finish in the top three of an event requiring a bunch of old guys with scorecards, you get something besides a medal. A coin, a pendant, a ring, I don’t care, but if we have to have purely subjective sports, at least acknowledge that they’re different. (I’d also recommend another award for team sports, but subjective/objective is the big one.)