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  • Tim Burke

Fixing Baseball Part One: Pace Of Play

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

We have all heard it a billion times. Baseball is dying. America’s National Pastime is certainly not dying but it is declining. Pace of play is slow and not a lot of people are getting into baseball. It is boring to people. I do not want baseball to be boring. I want the game to improve. Rob Manfred wants it to improve. How does it improve? Are the current suggestions good enough?

Pace of Play

Pace of play is a major issue in baseball. Games have not averaged under three hours since 2012. Before the 1988 Yankees no team averaged 3 hours. It is a concerning issue for baseball. It is losing attention of fans and is becoming harder to watch for the games casual fans. 

Pitch Clock 

The pitch clock is something that does not help baseball as much as one thinks. Long pauses in between pitches is not exciting in the least but is a big part of the strategic aspect of the game. Pitchers take long pauses between pitches to mess with the hitters timing. Anything for a competitive edge. I am not a pitch clock fan. 

Runner on Second in Extra Innings 

This is an interesting proposal. A Runner on second to start extra innings would be a massive advantage. One single and you get the go ahead run. Would sure add more intensity and entertainment to extra innings. There is zero way this should be allowed in playoffs. It is something I believe baseball should implement in the regular season to speed up the pace of regular season games. Similar to the NHL with a 3 on 3 OT and a shootout. I actually support this rule change proposal as long as it does not exist in playoffs. 

Mound Visits/ Three Batter Minimum

The mound visit limit has been so ineffective. There is still so many occasions where a catcher or a pitching coach goes out to talk to a pitcher when there is sign of trouble. This makes sense you need to be on the same page and keep your pitchers composed. Meetings at the mound seem to take forever though and maybe even need to be limited even more than they are. This also correlates with the 3 batter minimum. A pitcher has to face 3 hitters before the manager can make a pitching change. This is a rule that will be enacted in the 2020 season. This rule will definitely help with pace of play. A die hard fan like myself has been annoyed on several occasions when managers change pitchers 2-3 times an inning to get the right matchup. Especially with a sizable lead. I can also some backlash from managers on this rule next season. This really limits the strategic side of their job. They cannot use multiple pitchers to get three outs. They cannot stop a reliever about to blow a game until he faces 3 batters. No matter how he looks. This rule also limits lefty specialist and there will not be a need for them in the future. I do not like that. That limits way relievers can get to the big leagues. Some guys make a living off being a lefty specialist. I do not like this rule. I see a lot of people not liking it. I can see it not lasting long. 

Instant Replay/Trackman

Instant replay has taken way too long. I love it. Baseball desperately needed instant replay. Armando Galarraga notorious almost perfect game, Jeter’s ALCS go ahead “home run” in 1996 the list of umpire mistakes could go on forever. Instant replay takes a long time sometimes and there should be a time limit on how long it takes to the decide the call. Every manager, player and fan want to argue balls and strikes. The strike zone some umpires have can cause some serious frustration. “Robot umpires” is a solution to this problem. Trackman is a system being used in the Atlantic baseball league. Trackman locates where a pitch is thrown and whether it’s ball or a strike relative to the height of the batter. Track man then sends a message to the home plate and then they make the call on the field. The MLB is testing this out in the Arizona Fall league later this year. I am a big fan of this. Hopefully trackman is a solution to a problem baseball has had for years. 

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