Speeding up Baseball – Allentown Morning Call (blog)
Spring training games are beginning, and the weather here is feeling unseasonably springlike, so I’m starting to think seriously about another baseball season.
One thing I’m not looking forward to is the snail-like pace of some major league games, an issue that could be addressed rather easily if players and owners could come to agreements about it.
I see that they’re going to dispense with throwing four pitches for an intentional walk, which would have ruined the climactic play in “Bad News Bears” but otherwise makes sense.
Still, it will make a minimal difference. Here are some moves that definitely would make the games move faster:
— Pitch Clock. It works fine in the minors. Give pitchers 20 seconds to deliver the next pitch or go into their stretch. No one needs more time than that.
— Make batters stay in the box. This might make the most significant difference. Batting gloves do not need to be readjusted or supplied with fresh spit or pine tar after every pitch. In girls’ tournament softball, one foot has to remain in the box while the kids are looking down to third for their signs. Apply the same rule to major league baseball and you’d lose a lot of that dead time between pitches.
— Speed up instant replays. I like the addition of instant replays, but between the teams stalling until they can watch the play again and the long delays for review from New York, it can take five minutes or more while everyone stands around. Limit how long teams can stall before requesting a review , and put another umpire in the stadium if necessary to check the replays quickly.
— Limit mound visits. I would give teams some low number of mount visits per inning — three?– which they can use for the catcher, the manager, the pitching coach, the whole infield, whatever. Then, if you require a manager to visit the mound for a pitching change, you’ll also be limiting the number of changes per inning. Particularly once the rosters expand in September and certainly in the playoffs, these innings can last forever because of all the mound conferences and new pitchers.
— Limit throws to first base. This is tricky, because once you hit the limit, the base stealer has free rein, but it is incredibly boring to watch a pitcher throw over there a half-dozen or more times. Plus, the stolen base is one of the most exciting plays in baseball. Three pickoff throws per base runner?
I know there are other baseball purists out there. Comments on these proposals? Some of your own?