Best and Worst ‘New York Times’ Suggestions for “Improving” MLB Pace-of-Play

The ‘New York Times’ had two days (March 2 and 5) of suggestions about how to “Fix” Major League Baseball. Though the only thing we need to do to fix the game is to get a better Commissioner, this series addresses the best and worst suggests from each article.

PART I: March 2

THE BEST SUGGESTIONS

Some of the suggestions were quite good. I was surprised, to be honest.

For example, Robert from Brooklyn thinks we should have a homerun derby style game finish if teams play the 10th inning to a tie. The idea is similar to the new shootout system NHL has. MLB teams would put in their best pitcher and best hitter. Ten pitches. The most homers wins the game. Frankly, I think it would be a great way to end an extra innings game, but I also am a fan of those innings.

Another good idea came from two people: Limit pick-off attempts. How many times have we seen a pitcher become obsessed with a runner on first, and he throws 3-4 pitches over? It gets annoying quickly. Max in New York and Rick from Florida both said limit the number of pick-off attempts. Rick recommends one throw. I’m not sure this is a suggestion that will speed up the game in general, but I agree with the assessment that it will increase steal attempts and make the game a tad more exciting. Whatcha think Manfred?

My favorite suggestion by fans in the March 2, 2017 spread came from David W (pg. B10). David suggests banning “all mound visits except when using one of three allotted timeouts per game. I’d add in injury investigations, but David is right. These get to be annoying during the later innings. There’s a chance, I haven’t crunched the number yet though, that limiting these visits would cut a couple minutes off the game in general.

To see my personal recommendations on how to “fix” pace of play (which, incidentally, is SHORTER than NFL games, which run 3:12 hours versus MLB 3 hours), check out my post here on how to “fix” the game through pitching changes.

 

ARE THESE PEOPLE KIDDING?

Some of the suggestions seemed to come from people who have never watched at game…or they’re just messing around.

Larry from Marlboro, N.J., for example, suggested baseball be split into offensive and defensive teams. Somehow, his logic is, this will lead to more hitting, more running and more scoring. All this will lead to more excitement. I know these are blurbs and those making these suggestions can’ make them too long, but there’s no proof this would lead to the results he claims.

Then there was the old stand-by of making every foul ball count as a strike. Paul from Boston recommended this. Suffice it to say that he hasn’t read anything on FoulBallz.com.

Then there is Jacob from Palo Alto who had a bunch of ways to perk up the game of baseball. He’d like to see it shortened to 7 innings (this was echoed in other comments too; Harvey felt the same way). Okay. That’s not such a bad idea, but then Jacob tanked. He also recommended batters start with a 1-1 count “like some recreational softball leagues.” He’s fairly obsessed with recreational softball leagues too. He also suggested MLB “allow players” to foul out with a two-strike count. Jacob further recommends moving in the fences will speed up the game because there will be more homeruns, and reducing the number of defensive players on the field to “create more space for base hits.” It doesn’t take much to see that Jacob from Palo Alto isn’t much of a baseball fan. While I’m not entirely opposed to the 7 innings, his last two are particularly problematic. Moving in the fences would actually take away from the sport. Homers would become routine and flatten the game. Plus there’s no evidence more homeruns would shorten the game. The last suggestion Jacob made, to reduce players, is the most insane one. It seems Jacob was kidding around here. This would lead to a LOT more time added to the game. The more hits, the harder the outs are to come by and then the game lasts longer.




Another problematic suggestion came from Gabriella in Maine (a state without a baseball team near it). She feels outlawing batting gloves is the answer. Why? Because they spend so much time loosening and tightening them during at-bats. I’ll just leave that one to you.

SUGGESTIONS FROM MARCH 5

As noted above, the ‘NYT’ had two days of suggestions about how to “fix” MLB pace-of-play. Though the only thing we need to do to fix the game is to get a better Commissioner, this series addresses the best and worst suggests from each article. The March 5 selection was less of an avalanche of ideas than March, but here are the best and worst from that group:

BEST IDEAS

“Baseball doesn’t need fixing. It’s absolutely thriving.” That pretty much sums it up. Thank you Matt M. of Mountain View, California.

Connor of Kansas City, Mo. echoed the sentiments of a few people in the March 2 avalanche: Limit visits to the mound. This is also something a few of my Twitter followers have suggested too. It’s clear Manfred isn’t listening to Major League Baseball fans. Man, we got some great ideas!

 

WORST IDEAS

Apparently pace of play is a result of a “failure in marketing” and not a result of any other factors. Or so says Tim in Toronto. Somehow this is largely an issue with the way Mike Trout has been marketed. I guess Trout is baseball’s “savior.” Certainly this is tongue-in-cheek….right?

The most poorly thought-through suggestion on March 5 came from Mike of Harrisburg, PA. who instisted that “Replays MUST be faster”…three times it was emphasized. He also had a convoluted assertion that when managers, coaches and players argue, the teams should lose “either one of their pitching change or two pinch-hitters—at discretion of the opponent.” I’m not sure I can unravel all that. I’ll let you shake your head at it instead.

 

 

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