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Ball 3, take your base.


There has been many suggestions made to change the pace of play issues in baseball and I would like to suggest another. 3 ball walks.
Your first reaction might be to declare such an idea as "Blasphemy!" which is understandable. Baseball has had a 4 ball walk in place for quite some time and this would be quite a change to something quite fundamental to the game. Some folks might not know that 4 balls for a walk hasn't always been a thing in baseball. The rule had evolved for some time and didn't settle on 4 until 1889. (Wikipedia article)

Here are 3 reasons why I think this change would be an improvement

1. Encourage more strikes
The first reason for a reduced number of allowed balls is to encourage more strikes. As a pitcher, if I have 1 fewer pitch to throw out of the zone, I would more inclined to throw strikes. More strikes should mean more swings and more contact. I believe baseball is at it's best when the ball is in play and I believe more strikes being thrown would help that.

2. Quicker at bats.
Outside of the effect of more strikes being thrown, the elimination of an extra called ball would shorten long at bats automatically. You could argue that the number of at bats that go to a 3 ball count are small, which might be true but the combination of 1 less ball being thrown and an approach that favors more strikes, I think this would make a difference.

3. The rule of three
Baseball is a game designed around the number 3 and multiples of 3. 9 players, 90 feet, 3 strikes, 3 outs, etc. It almost seems odd that the number of balls allowed should not be 3. If you are a bit OCD like me, 4 balls for a walk just seems out of balance.

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My contention is the move to cable is what began the baseball slowdown.  How do those cable sports networks make money?  Advertising.  Owners are all too happy to allow more advertising to get bigger TV deals.  We focus on the players going slow, but we don't complain about the long repetitive commercials for some reason.  To me, the commercials are what make baseball impossible to watch.  If you listen to baseball on the radio, the radio stations don't even have enough advertisers to fill all the advertising time available.

Your three ideas are thoughtful, but I don't think they would work.  One thing that would speed up play is a pitch clock.  If a pitcher has not thrown a pitch or thrown to a base (if there is a baserunner) within 30* seconds and no timeout was in effect, a ball is called.  I'm skeptical that even this would fix it, however.  There is every possibility that baseball owners and their TV networks would gobble up all that extra time with more commercials and the length of games would remain the same.  Such is the way when you provide a solution that does not address the core problem.

*Or whatever other number makes sense.

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