By Ken Reed

I’m fine with MLB not making pitchers throw four silly lob balls to the catcher in order to intentionally walk the batter. If the defense wants to voluntarily place a runner on base then simply notifying the umpire will do just fine. It won’t save a lot of time but it’s a start.

I’m fine with limiting “time outs” — e.g., trips to the mound by coaches, managers or position players, as well as limiting the number of conferences third base coaches can have with batters. And umps should force batters to keep one foot in the batters box between pitches, instead of allowing hitters to go on long strolls after every pitch.

In addition to the new automatic intentional walk rule, MLB will limit the time managers can take to make a replay challenge this season. Good. And the replay booth will be limited in how much time they can take to review a play. Good again.

Moreover, I think the practice of catchers taking multiple seconds after every pitch to get a sign from the dugout to relay to the pitcher should be stopped. If, however, managers and pitching coaches feel it’s imperative that they call pitches instead of catchers then put speakers in catchers’ ears. That will save time and avoid having to watch catchers stare into the dugout after every pitch to get a sign.

Of course, the best way to speed up the game would be to cut the excessive time currently allowed for commercials between half-innings. But, of course, MLB won’t do that. Owners love revenue more than they dislike slow games. So, the dead time between half-innings will continue until the networks come back from commercials.

Most of these speed-of-play rule changes are pretty innocuous. But I have one absolute on this issue: Never, ever, under any circumstances, bring a clock into the game of baseball.

One proposal that’s being kicked around to speed up the game is to insert a pitch clock into the game. The pitch clock rule would require pitchers to throw a pitch in a certain amount of time.

One of the charms, and unique characteristics, of baseball is that there has never been a clock involved in the game. That’s the way it should stay.

The best way for baseball to keep existing fans — and acquire new ones — is to enhance the game’s strengths, special features, and unique characteristics, NOT try to become more like football or basketball.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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