Wahoo’s Idea: Fixing The Pace Of Play Issue

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Let’s be clear about one thing.  I don’t necessarily mind a three or four-hour baseball game.  When the score is 8-7 and there’s plenty of action and strategy, there’s nothing better than sitting in the stands on a warm summer day and forgetting about the rest of the world.  However, when the score is 2-0, and most of the three hours is taken up by pitching changes, batters calling time and watching some guy who probably would have dressed differently if he’d known he was going to be on the Jumbrotron (then again, maybe not) try to remember the name of the Indians pitcher who won the Cy Young in 2007, that is not entertaining.

When I go to an Indians game, it means more than two hours of driving in each direction, so I’m assuming not much else will be accomplished that day.  So whether the game goes 2:30 or 3:30 doesn’t have a huge impact on my schedule.  But, however long the game goes, I want to watch the game, not some endless series of affectations masquerading as mental preparation or psyching out the opponent (I’m looking at you, David Ortiz), or a bunch of circus sideshows that are nothing more than noise that prevents me from having a conversation with anyone around me.

So here’s my suggestions if you want to improve the pace of play – which is not necessarily synonymous with shorter games:

The catcher gets one trip to the mound per inning.  Every team pays fifteen stats geeks to figure out what pitch to throw to Gordon Beckham with two strikes.  If you still can’t decide, than maybe there’s too much information.

Once anyone from the dugout crosses into fair territory, he has sixty seconds to get back to the dugout, or the pitcher has to be removed. Ninety seconds if the manager has had a knee or hip replaced.  Got your back, Tito.

A fake throw to any base is a balk. Or no fake throw is a balk.  Whichever one eliminates the fake throw to third and then the throw to first.  The only purpose this serves is to give the fan who doesn’t know anything a reason to nod knowingly to the person next to him.

Eliminate manager challenges. As a corollary, if the umpires can’t figure out in sixty seconds whether they missed a call, the original call stands.  The point of instant replay should not be to litigate the calls where five – or even six – out of ten people think the umpire missed it.  Correct the calls that are obviously wrong and keep the game moving.

There will be no pitching changes, trips to the mound by catchers or managers, deceptive moves, or strategy of any kind if the batter has an OPS under .650. Or if the game is past three hours and the run differential is more than four.  Or if the words “wind chill” have been used at any time during the broadcast.  Or if both teams are more than twenty games under .500.

“Deal or no Deal” can only be played during pitching changes, and it has to be played during every pitching change. If there is more than one pitching change in an inning, the money that is given away has to come out of the pocket of the manager who made the pitching change.  If the run differential is more than four when the pitching change is made, the prize money doubles.

On second thought, “Deal or no Deal” should never be played again.

Anyone actually in the process of eating a hot dog when the hot dog race begins gets their next hot dog free if they have chosenthe condiment of the winning hot dog. That won’t speed up the game, but it would give us a reason to actually have a hot dog race, which isn’t the case currently. Admit it, Randall Simon was right.

Jun 21, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; The hot dog derby race during a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

I have noticed that in women’s softball, everybody does a high-five with everybody else after anything of consequence happens, such as an out.  It occurs to me that if this practice was eliminated they would have time to play nine innings instead of seven.  As a pre-emptive measure, let’s ban this from major league baseball before anyone gets the idea to try it.

Finally, install a pitch clock and enforce it in ways that impact the game in progress, not with fines that won’t bother anyone. You’ve got thirty seconds from the time one pitch is thrown to release the next one, whether or not there are baserunners. Exceptions would be foul balls, stolen base attempts, and knockdowns.  If the pitcher has the ball, the batter needs to be ready.  By the time the pitcher gets the ball back, digs a toehold, gets the sign, and sets himself, the batter has had plenty of time to do whatever he needs to do – which does not include adjusting his glove or any other part of his anatomy.  This may seem draconian, but do the math:  three hundred pitches at thirty seconds per pitch is 150 minutes.  Add in commercials and you’re well over three hours without any extra stuff.  If this rule doesn’t happen, nothing else on this list will amount to anything.

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