A Great Idea For Speeding Up Baseball
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced this week that he’s formed a special 14-person committee made up of field managers, general managers, owners and team presidents that will discuss ways to improve the game.
“The Committee will have the opportunity to review and make recommendations on all aspects of the game on the field, from scheduling, to playoff formats, to umpiring, to pace of game, to instant replay and to whatever other issues the Committee deems appropriate,” Selig said. “There will be no sacred cows.”
If you’re like me, you read that news and let out a giant yawn. Talk is cheap right? We’ve grown accustomed to “blue ribbon” panels in all walks of life that sound good but don’t produce meaningful change.
But then I read this column by the Washington Post’s great baseball writer Tom Boswell.
Boswell is optimistic that Selig’s group will find ways to address the game’s biggest problems, thanks to heavyweight committee members like Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, John Schuerholz, Frank Robinson, and George Will.
“These are baseball’s brand names,” Boswell writes in the Post. “Any issue on which they offer a consensus proposal will almost certainly be adopted by the sport. If this sounds like the NFL’s powerful Competition Committee, it should. And it’s about time.”
Boswell came up with 10 suggestions of his own, and there’s one that I find very intriguing:
A huge time saver – since every relief pitching change eats about four minutes – would be curtailing the plague of relief specialists who now face only one hitter. This isn’t “core” to baseball. It evolved. Then metastasized. Change the rules. A relief pitcher must face two hitters. The effect: more offense, and better pace of play, in late innings.
In my opinion, that’s a superb idea. There’s nothing that ruins the pace of play more than a manager making lefty-righty-lefty-righty pitching changes in the late innings. I can’t imagine that LaRussa will be in favor since he pioneered the use (overuse?) of situational relievers, but that rule change would do wonders for the last few innings of a typical game.
I don’t have any suggestions that are that brilliant, but if you’ve listened to PawSox broadcasts over the last few years, you’ve probably heard me say that there are two changes I would make if I were commissioner:
1. Mandatory day games on Sundays at all levels of pro ball.
2. Players that drive in a run by grounding into a double play should get credited with an RBI.
Hopefully, one of the committee members is thinking the same way.
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