Sunday, April 11, 2010

Speeding Up Baseball

Last night I watched four innings of the San Diego Padres-Colorado Rockies baseball game. Then, being bored, I slipped in a movie (Miss Congeniality 2, I was really bored). After the movie was over, two hours later, the ball game was still slogging along. In all, that baseball game lasted 4 1/2 hours.

Baseball, especially World Series games, have gotten incredibly long. When the Yankees make the playoffs it is normal for their games to limp along past midnight, East Coast time. Games are taking over a half-hour longer to play than they did 50 years ago.

So, in my never ending effort to correct the entire world (except college football bowl games about which I gave up caring about years ago) here are my three simple fixes for speeding up baseball.
  1. Restrict catcher mound visits. Every time someone gets on base or a pitcher throws the ball a tad low, catchers feel compelled to stroll out to the mound for a chat. Most of these mound conferences are as unimportant as the one in Bull Durham. Rule #1: With a batter in the batter's box the catcher may not travel beyond the dirt portion of the infield without first asking the home plate umpire for timeout. The umpire may grant a catcher timeout no more than twice in an inning.
  2. Stop granting batters timeouts too. The Yankees are masters at trying to annoy pitchers by stepping out of the batter's box just before he throws. They will do it dozens of times during a game. Umpires already have the power to stop this. Rule #2: Umpires don't have to grant timeouts. If the batter steps out just before the pitch the umpire should call it, ball or strike, regardless of where the batter is.
  3. Stop those interminable dig ins. Before every pitch some batters feel compelled to dig in at the plate like they were mining for gold. Again, this is a Yankees trait. Rule #3: The umpire should give the batter a reasonable but not excessive amount of time to prepare for the pitch; the umpire should then announce Play Ball. It is the batter's responsibility to be ready for the pitch.

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