Baseball's blessing as well as its curse is that there is no clock. A team can keep an inning alive as long as its batters reach base.
Anything can happen and we've seen some amazing finishes because a batter was able to stay alive.
But recently the sport has been plagued, and it is a plague, of taking too much time. Managers, who now must use detailed statistics, are making more pitching changes and other moves.
It's slowing the game down, it kills flow and it's turning off fans. It needs to change and it looks like Major League Baseball is starting to address it. There's talk that MLB wants to limit pitching changes where a pitcher has to face at least three batters before he can be removed (unless he's hurt or the inning ends).
Thank you! How many times have we seen managers bring in a parade of relievers to face just one batter, and have to wait for the new pitcher to warm up? Way too many.
This restores some common sense. It will save time and actually make the game better. If a manager brings in a lefty to face a left-handed batter, he's going to have to likely face a right-handed batter next. He might actually have to be able to get someone out who isn't a lefty.
Baseball always wants to continue to limit the number of mound visits which is another great idea.
Maybe postseason games won't last four hours anymore? Yeah, baseball needs to do this now.
There's also talk of adding the designated hitter rule in the National League. One of baseball's biggest mistakes in its history was allowing only the American League to enact the DH rule back in 1973. Both leagues should have the same rules and it's hard to fathom that the World Series has to be played under these circumstances because of it.
I understand why some fans like the NL rules where pitchers bat. There's more strategy (double switch) and it's cool when a pitcher can actually hit. But baseball has become so specialized, we rarely ever see a NL pitcher who is a good hitter. And the MLB players union isn't going to allow the AL to get rid of the DH which would cost jobs.
No, the best solution is to have the NL adopt the DH, creating more jobs (which obviously the union wants).
One thing I don't want to ever see in MLB is a pitch clock, which there is in the minors. You'd like to think that a pitcher and a catcher can agree on a pitch and deliver it in under 20 seconds. A batter should have to stay in the batter's box unless he needs to call time.
There are other proposals for roster size and the trade deadline but they're minor compared to the pitching and DH changes. Also it's disconcerting to see free agents unsigned with the start of spring training only days away. That issue is another debate as to whether teams want to spend big money on players who may only have a few good years left. Too many teams have been burned by committing tens of millions of dollars to free agents who become financial dead-weight in the last few years of the contract. There has to be a medium where free agents can cash in and teams have protection from bad contracts. This logjam has to end.
Baseball attendance and TV ratings continue to drop and you can debate why but ultimately, the sport knows something has to be done to move the game along to keep fans interested. These proposals should be adopted.
On a personal note, I want to congratulate Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson on his upcoming retirement. I've known Jeff for more than 20 years since he was the Hall's VP for communications. Jeff always treated our dear friend Leo Pinckney like royalty and it was something that meant a lot to him. Jeff was always good to us at The Citizen over the years and I want to thank him for all he's done to make the Hall an incredible place.
There are many people who dream of visiting Cooperstown that never get the chance. We are very fortunate that the best Hall of Fame in all of sports is within a short drive. Jeff, all the best, and we hope to see you one more time before you step down.