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Time to Speed Up Baseball

Five creative ideas to speed up the game of baseball.

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Baseball is often criticized for being long and sometimes called boring. According to ESPN, the average MLB baseball game in 2016 lasted 3 hours and 26 seconds long. While it is still shorter than the average NFL game, baseball games are played almost every day, and football games are only played once a week. So because of the constant criticism and trying to pull in younger viewers. The MLB has begun trying to make improvements to speed up the game.

At the start of the season the MLB announced some modifications that would be in effect at the start of the 2017 season. These news rules made some minor changes to speed up games, like the no-pitch intentional walk. This new rule sees instead of pitching 4 balls, the pitching team will just send the hitter automatically, without throwing a pitch. They also made a 30 second limit on how long a manager can decide to challenge or not, as well as a two minute guideline for Replay Officials to make a decision.

While these changes to shave off time to the game, there are still several changes that could be made to the games quicker and maybe ever more enjoyable.

  1. Limit the amount of relief pitchers used in an inning

There are many techniques used in baseball used to put the most possible pitchers in one inning. Managers often used “set up men” to just get one guy out, then immediately take him out and put another pitcher in more the next guy. Time is constantly wasted from the managers coming up to the mound to talk to pitchers, to waiting for the next pitcher to come from the bullpen.

So to decrease this wasted time, a limit should be set for how many pitchers can be used in an inning. For the first 6 innings only two pitchers can be used, then for the rest of the innings one pitcher can be used per inning. I also suggest they have a few exceptions, for course if the pitcher becomes injured then another pitcher can come in to replace him. The other exception would be if the pitcher allows 3 or more runs another pitcher can come in.

  1. Limit numbers for throw overs

Throw overs are throw by the pitchers to make sure that the runner stays on base, it prevents steals. But it is often a waste of time and gets boos. The pitcher sometimes waits way too long before throwing over and then once he throws the ball he has to start his routine all over again.

Allowing only one throw over per inning would limit them greatly. Although this might cause problems once that throw over is thrown, by the runner being able to steal without any contention. To fix this problem the runner would have to be two paces away and wait till the pitcher starts his motion to steal. This would also force the pitcher to pitch quicker and speed up the game.

Although this rule may seem flawed it may actually add excitement to the game by making it easier to steal.

  1. Decrease time given for replays

                Replays are a fairly new aspect of the game and have made the umpires jobs much easier. They have also greatly decreased the number of terrible calls. But when they happen they take way too long to be finalized. Even when the call is super obvious and everyone in the stands and watching at home on their TV knows what the call should be. Currently it is a suggestion to finalize the replay within 2 minutes.

This issue can be quickly fixed by giving the Replay Officials one minute and 30 seconds to make their decision, and if their decision is not made in this time period then the call on the field stands. Also if they cannot come to a conclusion the manager is given back their challenge, just to make things fair.

  1. When a Home Run is hit the hitter doesn’t have to run around the bases.

                When the ball is hit out of the park, it automatically counts as one run, or more if there are players on base. Still the home run hitter is forced to run around the bases. While it is a fun aspect of the game it is also a little unnecessary.

Instead of running around bases wasting time the hitter could just tip their hat and go into the dugout to celebrate with their teammates. This change would definitely upset baseball fans and I wouldn’t like this rule if it came into effect, but it would speed up the game.

  1. Limit the number of foul balls hit on a 2 strike count

When a hitter has two strikes they can hit as many foul balls as they want until they get the ball in play or strikeout. This often leads to several foul balls hit over and over again. After a couple of foul balls you just want to at bat to end.

To shorten this tedious at bat, a limit on how many foul balls can be hit after the 2 strike count starts. Having a limit of two is reasonable and gives the hitter time to straighten out. After the 3rd foul ball is hit the hitter is out.

The MLB has many options to speed up games and make them more enjoyable. Bringing in young viewers is essential for baseball to continue having high viewership and continue thriving. While changing the old game may upset hardcore fans modernizing the game is more important. Keeping fans wanting to turn on the game every night and not getting bored of it is very important.

Changing and improving baseball as kept the game new and fresh since 1839, and the foundation of baseball will stay the same but making the game more fun to watch is always a welcome change.

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