Pace of Play: There seems to be a rash of fanaticism concerning baseball’s pace of play and length of games. Has baseball failed to evolve, or does it give us a chance to take ourselves back in time to simpler days? Isn’t summer all about slowing things down and enjoying them? Does it fail to hold our attention or does it signify a shocking lack of patience and bring to light our increasingly ADD society? It’s the only major sport without a clock. It takes however long it takes to determine a winner. There is no sharing of points, it’s all or nothing. It singles out winners and losers in our new age of ‘everyone gets a trophy’. I find nothing wrong with that.
Some of the major changes are:
Pitch Clock: 12 seconds without runners on base or we have an automatic ball. I like this, to some extent, but it’s not the bases empty situations that prolong the game. It’s when their are runners on base. We can’t really do anything about that. It is what it is. Putting a clock to that situation and not allowing a pitcher to step off the rubber would give runners unfair jump on the pitch as the clock runs out.
One foot in the box: batter must be ready to go almost immediately after the previous pitch. I sort of like the idea behind this, but we must ensure the opportunity for coaches to put on plays between pitches. There are running counts, hitting counts, etc. and a multitude of options for the offense and defense to consider. Limiting this time gives the advantage to the defense. In a time where we want to inject more offense into the game, it seems to be counter-productive.
Automatic Intentional Walk: signal with 4 fingers from the bench instead of having to make 4 pitches. There aren’t that many intentional walks in a game. Throwing a pitch out is not the easiest thing for a pitcher to do. It takes them out of their rhythm. I have seen wild pitches thrown on pitch outs that allow runners to advance. Again, why give this slight advantage to the defense? For the time it may save, it’s just a silly thing.
Challenges from the dugout and not from the field: Prevents coaches from calling time out, wandering out on the field, and giving their techs an opportunity to watch several replays and signal the coach if they want to challenge a call. I love this one. I would also like to see it be required for the coach to signal for the pitching change immediately after emerging from the dugout so he can’t stall the game and give his reliever an extra 10 throws in the bullpen. If he doesn’t signal right away, the current pitcher must finish the at bat.
Enforced time between innings to ensure that the broadcast networks can squeeze every last advertisement into the breaks and ensure that the game will commence shortly after returning from the break. It’s all about the money. This has nothing to do with pace of play. I think speeding up pace is just a fortunate side-effect of this money grab.
I like baseball the way it is. It’s the perfect game. Don’t mess with it just because it doesn’t finish in under 3 hrs. The NFL’s product routinely goes over 3 hrs. I don’t hear anyone screaming for removal of the huddle from the sport, or why not keep the same ball on the field for kicking and throwing for both teams, it has to waste time constantly swapping out the balls. Why not eliminate the first down markers and use laser measurements from the sideline so we don’t have to watch late middle aged pot bellied umpires waddle across the field with the sticks? Why not play two halves instead of 4 quarters so we don’t have to stop and swap ends of the field so often? Why don’t we keep the clock running on incomplete passes? I’m sure all of that would get the games under 3 hrs, which seems to be the magic number. When the networks have a chance to show replays from every conceivable angle between plays, there is lots of wasted time during the game. None of this will happen because football is all about match-ups. It’s strategy on each play. They need a certain amount of time to prepare for the next play. Baseball is also about match ups. Give the players the time they need to prepare for the next pitch.