Time Out


Once again baseball has recognized that to maintain interest in the sport it must address the inordinate length of the game (over three hours).  It is, as a result, preparing to introduce a number of rule changes viz. limiting time between innings, restricting hitters from leaving the batters box and discouraging managerial maneuvers related to challenges – in an effort to speed things up.  They may indeed help pick up the pace, but if not, custodians of the clock may be obliged to consider any one of the following more radical changes.

  • Even with a pitcher in trouble, conferences on the mound need not occur.  As in football, a listening device should be installed in the pitcher’s cap enabling the manager to speak directly to him from the dugout.
  • Towering “pop ups” to the infield consume far too much time and always result in a put out.  Accordingly, when one is hit the next batter should immediately approach the plate while the pitcher should receive a new ball and prepare for his next delivery.
  • In rundowns, if after six tosses the tag has not been applied play must stop and the runner awarded the more advanced base.
  • Given the time constraints, nothing should be deemed sacred.  Accordingly, the “7th inning stretch” may have to go.  Fans, after all, have been getting up throughout the game to cheer their team on, head off for food and drink and for bathroom breaks.  There is, therefore, no pressing need for yet another “delay of game” in the 7th inning.
  • A pitcher issuing an “intentional pass” need but point to first base and not consume time in the needless exercise of tossing four straight balls to his catcher.
  • After a strikeout the ball must be returned directly to the pitcher and not tossed casually around the infield.
  • Upon being ejected from a game the manager must head immediately back to the dugout or risk being fined for each ten-second interval he remains on the field.
  • A limit must be placed on perfunctory pick-off attempts in a given inning.
  • Hitters can adjust their wrist bands only once during each time at bat.
  • If after five successive foul balls a hitter hits a sixth, he must be awarded 1st base.
  • Broken bats are far too common and involve excessive down time.  Accordingly extra bats should be stored in a container below ground in an area behind home plate.  Batters could then easily obtain another one without much time elapsing.
  • Each team can insert no more than two relief pitchers in an inning.
  • Once a homerun is struck, batters need not circle the bases, but instead return directly to the dugout.
  • If by the 5th or 6th inning it is clear that a pitcher’s duel is under way, innings 7 and 8 can be skipped with the game advancing directly into the 9th inning.
  • Stadium displays after homeruns are struck – e.g., deafening sound effects or fireworks, should be strictly limited.

Solons of the sport may consider these recommendations slightly extreme, but if the new regulations fail to reduce the length of games they may be obliged to move more aggressively before time runs out.

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