Last night the Dodgers beat the Nationals in what turned out to be the longest nine-inning postseason game in history. (4 1/2 hours) Combined the two teams used a total of 13 pitchers and the 7th inning alone took 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 55 seconds.
So why does this matter? Because the future of baseball depends on the youth of today to keep it alive. And frankly, not many 10-13 year olds are interested in sitting through constant pitching changes, commercial breaks, and mound visit interruptions. I personally don’t believe it’s the length that’s a problem, but rather the pace. Any 4 hour event with quality action can remain entertaining. The problems arise when you continuously stop it.
On one hand the diehard baseball crowd will shout “But that’s baseball.” And although that’s true, times change and baseball must adapt. If not, the game risks losing long term interest which will ultimately deplete the talent, the quality, and the product that they love.
Obviously last night’s game was a bit of an outlier in that both teams had depleted pitching staffs and all hands were on deck. Despite that I do believe what we watched was an example of the larger issue. Baseball needs to explore all options when it comes to pace of play while still maintaining the games character.
Some potential options that I have seen – Green is what I consider a mild change, Orange a significant change, and Red a radical change. I put Red first because we obviously enjoy the most radical shit.
- Shorten the game to 7 innings – DUMB
- Give the pitcher and the catcher a headset so the coach can call the pitch selection Much like the NFL. This would remove sign relays from the dugout to the catcher to the pitcher. Also less mound visits to “get on the same page”
- Limit the number of pick-off attempts per inning
- Limit the number of pitching changes per inning
- Make teams win SERIES, not games – Believe it or not, I actually like this. It would create urgency and mini playoffs
- Limit the amount of relief pitchers
- Set a minimum number of batters a relief pitcher must face. For example: If a pitcher enters the game he must face 2 batters, record 2 outs, etc.
- Start extra innings with a runner on 2nd base – MY brilliant idea. I wrote the Commissioner about this one.
- Relief pitchers get a max of 6 warm-up pitches
- Remove the pitcher batting in the National League – This would add excitement and less pinch hitter changes.
- Batters must remain in the batters box
- Pitch Clock – This is being utilized at the minor league level. It’s used for at-bats, pitcher changes, and between innings.
- No pitch intentional walks – I agree with this, watching them throw 4 balls is a waste