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A Few Ways to Fix Major League Baseball

World Series Ratings (MLBlogs Network)

Are you someone that watches baseball?  Have you ever been to a game at Fenway, or another ballpark?  Have you ever been REALLY bored while doing these things?  If you just said “Yes,” you are not alone.

With the success of the NFL and its ability to change its rules from year to year, which in turn improves the sport and cultivates its “watch ability” why hasn’t MLB followed suit?

There are some rules MLB should change or even enforce in order to improve the sport.

Let me help…

Speeding up the Game

Listen, these games are lonnnnngggg.

On Sunday May 6th 2012, the Red Sox hosted the Orioles for a 1:35pm start.  After arriving in the area at about 1 o’clock, my girlfriend and I entered the park. Four hours later the game was still going on. We decided to leave after the bottom of the 11th with the game still tied. After an hour commute home, I popped on NESN and proceeded to watch the same game I was just at for another hour and a half. The game lasted over 6 hours and the Orioles ended up winning 9-6 after 17 innings.

Granted those were some extenuating circumstances, but MLB needs to pick up the pace a bit.

Rule Number 1

MLB has two rules that it does not enforce that could speed up the game.  The first rule is this:

Umpires may grant a hitters request for Time once he is in the batter’s box, but the umpire should eliminate hitters walking out of the batter’s box without reason. If umpires are not lenient, batters will understand that they are in the batter’s box and they must remain there until the ball is pitched.

How often do you see the hitter walk out of the batter’s box?  Doesn’t it occur after almost every pitch?  Think of a Kevin Youkilis at-bat.  In between pitches he has to ask for time to:  A) Wipe the sweat from his brow B) Check the 3rd base coach for the signs (which are normally “try to get a hit”) C) Take his vicious downward chop swings over and over.  Meanwhile the pitcher is just standing there waiting; in fact, everyone is waiting, the fielders, the umpires, the fans, the media and YOU sitting on your couch, yawning.

Rule Number 2

The second rule that MLB blatantly does not enforce, is this:

When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call Ball.” The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.

Being a fan of the Red Sox, I for one know that this rule is never enforced.  Josh Beckett (traded to LA thankfully) and Clay Buchholz (friends with Shane Victorino apparently) are two of the slowest pitchers in baseball, averaging more than 27 seconds between pitches.  In a Red Sox – Yankees game on August 7th 2011, Beckett averaged 31 seconds between pitches and there were 45 seconds in between some pitches that game.  In 2012, the Red Sox as a staff averaged just over 24 seconds in between pitches.

The average number of pitches per game is about 146 per team.  Imagine if these rules were more strictly enforced.  If pitchers threw their next pitch within 15 seconds as opposed to 20 seconds, it would speed up the game by over 24 minutes. Your three-hour game is now a much-more-appealing two-and-a-half-hour game.

Rules That Should Be Added

Those two rules we were just talking about are actually in the MLB Rule Book.  These ones will not be:

Expand Rosters in April NOT September

Why are teams able to call up players from their 40 man roster?  No other major sport lets you expand your rosters at the end of the season.  Wouldn’t you want the best players on the field the month before the playoffs?

If you want a month to expand the MLB rosters, pick the first month! Teams can see if their prospects are MLB-ready or if they need more seasoning. Imagine if Mike Trout played the entire season?

Eliminate the Intentional Walk

This one should be pretty self-explanatory.  From the dugout the manager tells the catcher that he wants to walk whoever is up.  The catcher tells the umpire.  Take your base!  No need for four pitches!!

Centralize Instant Replay

In the NHL all instant replays on scoring plays are reviewed in a situation room in Toronto.  Why can’t baseball do the same thing?  The NHL system works just fine.  There is rarely a mistake and the time it takes for the review to come down to the officials on the ice is very efficient.

However, after a controversial call in baseball, the umpires all get together somewhere in the middle of the field, talk about the play, and then decide IF they should look at the replay.  Once the decision is made the umpires then waddle off the field into the dugout for what seems to be decades.  Finally after about 4 or 5 minutes (sometimes more) the umpires come out of the dugout and make the call.

Seemless, right?

What These Rules Would Do

World Series ratings have been on a steady decline over the last 20 years.  Meanwhile, each NFL Super Bowl becomes the most watched sporting event ever.  Those two trends seem to be inevitable.

Making baseball more fun to play, more exciting to watch and speeding up the pace of play is exactly what the sport needs to succeed going forward.

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Discussion

One comment for “A Few Ways to Fix Major League Baseball”

  1. I would agree with everything except removing the intentional walk. It puts the onus on the pitcher to actually complete the four pitches. I remember years back when Miguel Cabrera was with the Marlins, the opposing team tried to walk him intentionally and he reached out and hit a single to drive a run in. Those plays, while not frequent, can be difference makers in a game.

    –DMac–

    Posted by DMac | December 6, 2012, 8:18 am

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