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Ranking: Methods of Speeding Up Baseball

Jon Marthaler



Twins Video

blog-0301722001488984900.jpg1. Pitch Clock

I used to be anti-pitch clock, like a lot of people. "Baseball doesn't have a clock!" I exclaimed, stupidly forgetting the day that I saw Freddy Garcia average (estimating here) fourteen hours between pitches. By the end of the third inning of the first pitch-clocked game I saw, I was a convert, and you will be too.


It moves the game along. I now support the shortest pitch clock possible, as well as a between-innings clock, and also support giving the umpire a BB gun to shoot people who don't comply.


2. Eliminating Mound Visits

Baseball is the only sport that allows coaches, managers, and other players to call unlimited timeouts. This is because every other sport realized that, given this unchecked power, everyone would routinely abuse it. Somehow, baseball sat through Joe Torre's managerial career without once thinking, "You know, we're kind of tired of watching him trudge out to the mound at 0.03 mph, twelve times a game."


Give each team three timeouts, or one, or whatever, but otherwise let the pitch clock rules stand.


3. Limiting Pitching Changes

There are about eighteen different ways of doing this. Among them:

  • Require pitchers to face a certain number of batters
  • Allow teams to make only a certain number of mid-inning pitching changes per game
  • Require that pitching changes take place during a timeout (see item #2)
  • Limit or eliminate the warmup throws that the reliever gets when he reaches the mound.
  • Require bullpen cars that travel at least 45 mph
  • Put Tony La Russa in prison

Whatever it takes. Again, no other sport takes five minutes to make a substitution. Let's get it together, baseball.


4. Ten seconds to call for replays, no managers involved

I mean, nothing beats watching a manager stand on the second step of the dugout, staring at the guy who's on the phone with the upstairs replay coordinator, who is watching TV to decide whether or not a challenge is a good thing, right?


This was never the point of replay; the point was to eliminate the truly awful decision, the one where you know immediately that the umpire (usually Phil Cuzzi) is a moron. We don't need managers and video coordinators involved in that.


Plus: watching players make challenges is hilarious because they're always wrong. Every team will have at least two players that cannot believe that they are ever out, and will challenge every call and waste their team's replay challenges, and we will all get to laugh at them.


5. Expand the Strike Zone

I'm a little tired of the fooling with a strike zone; I legitimately cannot tell you what the rule actually is, these days. The high strike / low strike / whatever probably won't change the game that much; it'll just change the pitcher's aiming point. That said, I do think that anything that promotes swinging the bat is probably a decent thing.


6. Bunt Foul, You're Out

Here's a solution: don't bunt.


7. Limit Pickoff Throws

I don't think this is a terrible idea, but it seems like it's pretty far down the list of the things that are slowing down games.


4,893. Automatic Intentional Walks

I mean, it's fine? We've saved ourselves six seconds a week? That's great?


63,852: Seven-inning Games

Yes, after 120 years, let's change the length of the game. That's a great idea.


1,890,293,298: Ties

I mean, I guess we could shorten the games by introducing ties. You finish the ninth inning tied, the hell with it, we'll try again tomorrow. This is a terrible idea, but at least we're not deliberately altering how the game is played, we're just introducing an outcome to the game that hasn't previously been used unless it's spring training or Bud Selig is involved in the decision-making.


1,890,293,299: Everyone Starts With A 1-1 Count

1,890,293,300: Starting the 10th Inning With A Runner On Second

Now you're just being stupid.



Recommended Comments

I am definitely in favor of #2 and #3 which is why #1 is third on my list.  Let a manager designate 4 pitchers for a 9 inning game.  That's it.  If it goes beyond 9 they can do what they want.  But think of the strategy.  Do you use all three relief pitchers in the 7th inning or do you have to wait and hold one in reserve?  Get the relievers in a rotation and teach them to throw more than 1 inning.  Get rid of the one LOOGY and other specialists who throw more warm-ups than pitches.  

The real issue is on the mound and these three address that.  No one wants to watch a parade to the mound of catchers, pitching coaches and managers.  Limit mound visits to 1 per inning, signal changes from the dugout.  Left for intentional walk, right for I want a new pitcher!  

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Maybe this is a silly question but given the past 48 hours in the Twins Cities, and the Tropical Storm level wind, it crossed my mind. What happens when a player gets beaned and injured because he couldn't see the ball coming because he had a piece of dirt blow into his eye and he was in a 2 strike count and couldn't call time?

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Please, for the love of God, get rid of one out bullpen specialists. Make anyone coming in to the game pitch to at least two batters. Also, limit mound visits. Watching a catcher walk to the mound multiple times an inning is maddening. Just doing these two things would make huge progress in my opinion.

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Plus: watching players make challenges is hilarious because they're always wrong. Every team will have at least two players that cannot believe that they are ever out, and will challenge every call and waste their team's replay challenges, and we will all get to laugh at them.


This reminds me of a book written by a retired NBA basketball referee. I never read the book, but I remember a great quote from it when he was speaking about the players.


"Charles Barkley has never committed a foul."

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#1 - I think this will only work if they eliminate the 'loop-hole' where stepping off resets the clock. If you don't pitch within X seconds of getting the ball back, it's called a ball, no matter what. Not the end of the world.


#3 - The loophole here is 'injury'. What do you do if all the allotted relief pitchers were used up and the current one is injured (for real or pretend)? Also, any change to relief pitcher changes is still going to be limited to 2 minutes minimum 'cause the TV folks are going to want it to be a commercial break.


#4 - two thumbs up. The decision process for a review now is a joke.


#6 - I don't mind bunting, so I would have to disagree. I think baseball is at it's best when the ball is in play. To me, baseball that is all strikeouts and home runs isn't as enjoyable. The more time we can watch something going on, even if it's just a runner being thrown out, the better.

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I agree with your ranking of the ideas being tried out by MLB.


I've always thought the best way to implement #3 is to reduce the roster by a player or 2, thus reducing bullpen flexibility.  The players association would never allow it, though.  Unless you combined it with expansion and left them with more net MLB players.


In line with your #2, I could see a limit to the number of mid-inning pitching changes being helpful.  I'm not sure what would be a good limit.  Maybe 2 plus 1 per 3 extra innings?


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I still do not see the single most effective way that will not affect the quality of the game listed:  Cut down the time between innings in half, and get rid of the circus act tackiness between innings.


Charge more for commercials or charge the same for shorter commercials for the TV to not take a hit or even allow commercials on a small corner of the screen during the game


Simple and effective and does not change the game.  Nobody needs hot dog races, T-shirt canons, or screeching choir children

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Why do we have to move to make MLB more like slow pitch softball? The game is fine the way it is. I can live with the clock I suppose, the tweaks that alter strategy (#s2,3,6,7) I stand up and say no. Eliminate replay altogether.

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