“I don’t want less baseball. I want less nonbaseball” says Victor Mather from The New York Times. I couldn’t agree more.
With the concern of the game moving too slow, many have tried to come up with solutions to speed up the game. These solutions range from implementing a pitch clock or even having a two-strike foul ball count as a strikeout. My opinion: the game is almost as perfect as it can get.
Baseball was never meant to be a fast-paced game. It should not have a clock. If a player feels the need to step out of the box to mentally prepare for the next pitch (within reason), then so be it. However, there are a few ways to eliminate the true non-baseball parts of the game.
It was always strange to me that roster size expanded in September. Why not keep the same rules throughout the entire season?
Games begin to slow down in September because managers have more relievers they can rotate in throughout a game. The jump from 25 to 40 is too many. It should be expanded to 28-30 at most. This will naturally erase the number of times a manager will make a pitching change and therefore speed up games in September.
Although the most unlikely solution to be implemented, reducing commercial breaks would cut easily 45 minutes to an hour out of the game time. Watching games on television has become increasingly difficult due to these long commercial breaks.
It breaks up the flow of the game for the audience. The MLB fears this will hurt revenue. However, they should focus on becoming more fan-centric. This will lead to more popularity and larger revenues in the long run.
Another solution to speeding up the game would be to limit the number of warm-up pitches a reliever can throw upon entering the game. Once they get to the mound they can throw three pitches then the game resumes. Another bullpen-related solution is the bullpen cart, with some teams having already brought back the fan favorite. This would shorten the time it takes bullpen pitchers to get to the mound.
People who watch baseball watch it for the game it is. Forcing players to keep one foot in the batter’s box shaves off at most 15 minutes a game. Is that short amount of time really going to decrease viewership? Ruining the flow of the game with excessive commercial breaks or tons of pitching changes is what is hurting the game.
Drastic changes such as a pitching clock or starting extra innings with a runner on second base would change the foundation of a game that does not need much fixing. Fans understand the time commitment baseball needs. Baseball is perfectly imperfect.