Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports

It was a meaningless, unspectacular Saturday morning JV baseball game in chilly West Jersey. And almost two decades later, I still think about it maybe once a week.

Seven innings, seven runs scored, 52 minutes from first pitch to the final out. It was a blast. And it unfolded that way because our team and their team did something that has become depressingly uncommon in the big leagues: We actually hit the ball.

That is what I keep coming back to as the world wraps its head around MLB’s new pitch clock, as well as the shift ban and bigger base bags. Once the initial shock wears off, they can and will improve the game. But they will accomplish little beyond creating tighter broadcast windows for media partners if baseball refuses to turn away from its warped “three true outcomes” thinking and return to playing the game as it was designed.

In short: Put the damn ball in play.

You want the game to move quicker? Hit the ball. You want more action? Hit the ball. You want offense*? Hit the ball. You want to tap into everything else that makes baseball exciting but is too often neglected, like base stealing? Hit the ball.

You want a better product? Hit the ball.

This won’t be easy. Imagine if the Knicks triple-teamed Jayson Tatum last night, but the Celtics refused to give the ball to anyone else. That is basically what the vast majority of big league batters have done for over a decade by hitting into the shift. So there is one hell of a stubborn headwind to fight. Hopefully the pitch clock and shift ban can catalyze the reckoning. But they cannot force it. So something has to give.

* — Baseball is at its best when runs are at a premium, but Rob Manfred and company are clearly convinced the TikTok kids wants lots of them.

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James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.