New Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that he is looking at some rules changes to speed up the game, the most likely a stipulation that a relief pitcher must face at least two batters. I have my own ideas for ways to speed up the game:
Movable fences: For every ten seconds that the pitcher delays on the mound, the outfield fences would be moved in ten feet. Just think how some of those slow pitchers would feel about seeing Boston's Green Monster looming behind third base.
Approaching Pitcher's Mound: If a batter steps out of batter's box, the mound would move five feet closer to the plate. Talk about scary, trying to hit a 90 mile an hour fastball thrown from 75 feet.
Extra Outs: Set a time limit on the coaches' or managers' time for visits to the mound. If they exceed the limit, the opposing team gets an extra out in that at bat. For every successive infraction, an additional out is added. Would any team violate the rule? I don't think so.
Extra Players: If the manager of the offensive team argues a call by going onto the playing field, the defensive team would get to add an additional player. In the old days, the Orioles under Earl Weaver would have been playing against twelve, maybe thirteen players.
Okay, so those may be a bit far-fetched, but Major League Baseball has to do something to stem the decreasing TV ratings tide. Soccer, basketball and even football are garnering more attention from young people than baseball. When I was growing up, the World Series was on about the time I got home from school. Games lasted about two and a half hours. Players stayed with teams more than twelve minutes. Nothing against Curt Flood and free agency, but how can anyone maintain loyalty to a team when the roster turns over more quickly than the President changes press secretaries? Here are some legitimate changes that should be considered.
Pitching clock: It's working in college baseball, which is actually pretty popular. The NFL has a play clock, the NBA has a shot clock, why can't Major League Baseball have a pitch clock?
Stay in the Batter's Box: Once the pitching clock starts, the batter has to stay in the batter's box and wait for the pitch. This would greatly diminish the time it takes to play a simple baseball game.
Time Limit on Pitcher's Mound Visits: It's no secret that the first visit to the mound is generally to calm down the pitcher, but once a reliever is up in bull pen, the visits are simply meant to buy time for the next pitcher to get ready while limiting the damage the current pitcher will have to endure. After the first one, limit subsequent visits to thirty seconds.
Start World Series Games Earlier: If the NFL can play weekend games during the day, why can't Major League Baseball? I'm fifty-six years old and can't make it to the end of a game. The combination of late starts and three and a half hour games are toxic to the sport.
Decrease Commercial Breaks: World Cup soccer games go forty-five minutes between commercials. Why? Because FIFA mandates it. Do the networks refuse to show the World Cup? Absolutely not. Even NASCAR coverage has gotten creative by showing live action and commercials side by side on the screen.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK
Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel",
available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords.