The Pecan Park Eagle didn’t get a lot of suggestions for shortening the average time of a baseball game in response to my column last week on the question, but we also did not receive a single message of support for the idea that the games need to keep growing in length beyond three hours. Moat people seem to like the idea of shorter games; some say the tempo and competitiveness of the game is more important; others bring up school night pressures; while others yet harken back to their imagined pastoral pace of the game as it once must have played out in rural 19th century America. Virtually everyone agrees that television commercials increase the length of game times at the big league level.
One old friend of mine, Dr. Don Matlosz of Fresno State University, even bothered to submit an itemized comment at the first column site of changes he’d like to see for the sake of making the games shorter. I always pay attention to Matlosz; he’s not only a good friend from way back, but a smart New Jersey born and raised baseball guy to boot. As a result, and for the sake of further discussion, The Eagle shall repeat his four suggestions here.
Dr. Don Matlosz’s Four Suggestions for Shortening the Time of Baseball Games
Baseball needs to speed up and here are some suggestions to accomplish this task:
1. (Call for an) intentional walk and the batter automatically goes to first base (without the four thrown balls).
2. Batters do not need to step out on every pitch. Let pitchers quick pitch in order to keep the batters in the box
3. I think this was a Charles Finley idea. Instead of 4 balls and three strikes make it 3 balls and two strikes.
4. Don’t throw the ball around the infield after each out.
Since we don’t always agree with Dr. Matlosz, here are the Pecan Park Eagle thoughts on his list of four:
1) The designated intentional walk without the pitches. I don’t like it. The game of baseball is a lot about how players handle their flow of adrenaline and nerves during the quiet moments of a tense game. No walk is assured until a pitcher shows that he can deliver four balls to the catcher that are not thrown wildly to the screen. With the winning run on third when the “IW” is initiated, a wild pitch could still possibly end the ball game. We say – leave this one as it is.
2) Place Limits on Batters Stepping Out to Halt the Game. We totally agree. Most of these moves are the result of tension itches that football and basketball players have little time to experience during the constant flow of speed in their games. They are caused by neurological signals in response to stress and the flow of adrenalin. In football, their most common appearance is the lineman who jumps offside prior to the ball being snapped into play. Batters should have to deal with stress equally to the stress that the pitcher faces delivering balls that are not thrown away. We say, take away all stepping out calls for time. If a bug is flying toward your face at the same time the ball is about to be released, well, then this will be one of those times in your career we get to see how well you hit with a bug stuck in your mouth. What fun – and what a time saver.
3) Drop the Walk/Strikeout count from 4/3 to 3/2. As they sometimes say in New Jersey, “faggedaboudit!” No way we should make this change. This one is no minor change. This one interferes with the integrity of the game. “Two strikes and you’re out?” How does this line sound when you apply it to baseball or your love life or your mortgage payment? “For it’s ONE … TWO … STRIKES, … YOU’RE OUT – at the old ball game!”
4) Round the Horn Tosses after an Infield Out. No big deal in the vast room of time-wasting. If we were measuring how much time it takes to clean a bead room, infield ball tossing would be equivalent to the time it takes to turn on the bedroom light and open or close closet doors. It’s just no biggie as a time-waster.
What then? Any of us with this answer might possess the brilliance we would need to serve as Commissioner of Baseball. Wait a minute. I forgot, Brilliance is not a major requirement of that office. If it were, home field advantage in the World Series would not be at stake in the All Star Game; Milwaukee would still e in the American League; and Houston would still be in the National League. (Never confuse “treacherous and deceitful” with “brilliance,” especially in the matter of assessing commissioners.)
Pecan Park Eagle Suggestions.
1) Shorten TV Time Outs. In a nutshell, I’d say baseball needs to sell TV sponsors on “less time for the same or more money.”
2) No Batter Time Outs. Make the batter stand in and hit with no leg-scratching time out calls.
3) No Infield or Pitcher-Catcher Huddles.
4) No freebie visits to the mound by the manager or any coach. If a manager or coach visits the mound, he must remove the pitcher from the game; anything else that needs to be said or restated in the dugout once your team is at bat – or hand signaled to the field when the guys are out there on defense.
5) Put the clock on the pitcher. Put the clock on pitchers as to how many seconds they have to throw the next pitch, once an out is declared or, during a time at bat in progress from the last time a pitch was thrown. These steps would also cut down on time-wasting between batters.
6) Put the clock on batters too. Next batters would also have the clock on them to get in the box after each out. Failure by the pitcher or batter to be ready in time would result in a ball called on the late pitcher or a strike called on the late batter.
7) In general, put more time control upon the main people who have the greatest ability to drag out the game. The time allotted to both pitcher and batter should be carefully studied and consistently applied by a new 8) timekeeping umpire who uses all the technology available today for making it measurably fair all the way around. All of these suggestions for change are aimed at the people who set the pace for slowing down games in the name of strategy or personal style that brings nothing but boredom to most fans. We don’t really buy tickets to watch these “human rain delays.”
The key people corrected here are Managers, Pitchers, Catchers, and Batters.
In time, players will adjust to the expectation of a quicker paced game – and, once the fans get a good taste of it, they will not settle for anything less..
What do the rest of you think?