The Problem with Baseball Is that it’s Too Slow
By Jacob Bogardus aka JPBaseball1322
I’m a baseball purist. I love the sport. I believe it is the American pastime and have no problems sitting through a three and a half hour game. However, as a baseball lover, I also understand that the pace of the game is one of the reasons that a lot of people can’t sit through an entire game and follow the sport throughout the year. I want this to change. I want people to be able to enjoy baseball, so I am going to act as the commissioner of baseball for the next few paragraphs, and make three suggestions as to how we could speed up the game without dramatically changing the product.
1)Batters may not step out of the batter’s box between pitches- I played baseball, I get it, players want to keep blood circulating, want to get the signs, get situated in the box, adjust their batting gloves among other things, and then hit. This seems harmless, but it takes up so much time in a game it’s unbelievable. So my first rule change is a simple one, players cannot step out of the batter’s box. Of course there would be a few conditions that would merit a batter taking time out of the box such as when a player is injured (i.e. foul ball off of foot) or in save situations from the 8th inning on. Breaking this rule will warrant a penalty. Each team will receive one warning upon breaking the rule for the first time in a game, and for each subsequent time the batter who breaks the rule will receive a strike added to the count. If it happens to be the third strike, the batter is out, and if it happens to be the third out, the inning is over.
2)A pitch clock- Similar to a shot clock in basketball, a pitch clock would be instituted in order to speed pitchers up on the mound. Throughout the decade of the 2000s average time between pitches was approximately 26.3 seconds. Now part of this is obviously waiting for the batter to be ready, so rule change #1 will help slightly reduce this time. However at 27 seconds per pitch, and approximately 250 pitches a game, you are talking about just short of 2 hours of “game time” being spent on waiting for the pitcher to throw the ball. I would suggest a 20 second pitch clock to be instituted. With this pitch clock, if pitchers were to take the full 20 seconds every time, you would be saving 6 seconds per pitch, or almost a 25 minutes per game. Again, like with rule change #1 there would be certain times when the pitch clock would not be in effect. I would propose that again, in the 8th inning or later in games that are being decided by 3 runs or less, the pitch clock would not be used. However, while the pitch clock is active, there will obviously be some penalties for a time violation. My suggestion would be that each team gets one time violation warning. After the warning any violation will act as if the pitcher threw a ball. If it is the 4th ball of the at-bat it is a walk and any appropriate runners advance just as normal.
3) Limited catcher visits to the mound- Currently the catcher can essentially visit the mound whenever he wants. Being a baseball purist, many of these times are understandable, whether it is to talk about the next pitch or to change the signs because a runner has reached base, many of these visits are necessary, however some of them can definitely be avoided. As commissioner I would propose that the catcher is allowed only one visit to the mound per inning. If he is to visit a second time the pitcher must be removed from the game. Similar to rules 1 and 2, this rule also comes with the amendment that in a close game (3 runs or less) after the 8th inning, catchers will be allowed two mound visits per inning with the third mound visit being the one in which the pitcher must be removed. It is important to note that visits to the mound by coaches in which the catcher also attends do not count as catcher visits to the mound. Mound visits by coaches will continue to follow the current rules which are the same as my newly proposed catcher rules. A coach can visit the mound for any one pitcher once per inning and upon the second visit in the inning the pitcher must be removed (covered by rule 8.06).
Baseball is a great game, but with games lasting an average 2 hours and 50 minutes, we need to try to reduce game time to attract more casual fans. The three rules above really should not make the game any different than it already is today, and certainly should not change the outcomes of games. Rule changes 1 and 2 go hand in hand, keeping the batters in the box will allow the pitchers to work slightly faster, and having a pitch clock on the pitcher will keep them on a good pace with the threat of penalty. Limiting catcher visits to the mound in a similar way to which the league already limits coach visits to the mound will also speed up the game. With all of this being considered, I believe you are looking at on average 20-25 minutes saved per game. In the big picture, that makes your average game about 2 and one half hours, instead of 3, and gives the game a better flow and pace throughout the game. These changes may seem drastic at first, but in time I believe people will see that these rules will not change the game, and will help cater to the more casual fan, which will help to further expand baseball’s fan base and keep it as America’s past time.
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