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Fanpost Friday: Changing the game

Some kinda radical suggestions being kicked around this off-season for rules changes.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Texas Rangers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

To see if we can generate some more interaction, we’ll be running Fanpost Fridays, at least through spring training - if the response is good, these will then continue once the regular season starts up. The aim is to pose a question, and have people answer it in the form of a Fanpost. Well-formed ones will then be promoted to the front page and featured on the site over the weekend, and you may even find yourself in Google News. Please also read and, as appropriate, recommend any submitted Fanposts.

The issue

There are really two questions here. Is pace of play a problem in baseball? And if so, how should it be fixed? It has been one of the main areas of concern for baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, since he took over from Bud Selig. Last year, batters had to keep one foot in the batter's box after taking a pitch, and the break between innings was timed using a clock at the park, and more strictly enforced. But despite this, the average game took three hours, a four-minute increase over the previous season (though games were still quicker than the deathly pace of 2014, when AL games took 3:04:17, and NL ones, 3:00:46).

There have been various suggestions made as to what more could be done in this area. These include:

  • A pitch clock, similar to the one currently operating in the minor leagues
  • Limiting the frequency of mound visits
  • Immediate intentional walks, no longer requiring four pitches to be thrown
  • Shortening the break between innings
  • Make relievers face at least two batters

One particularly revolutionary idea suggested, will be tried in some minor leagues this year (including the Arizona Rookie League). Once a game goes past regulation, extra innings start with a runner already on second-base. Something similar has been used for a while in international ‘ball - we’ll see it in this year’s World Baseball Classic, if any games go past the tenth. Said Joe Torre, “It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time. It’s baseball. I’m just trying to get back to that, where this is the game that people come to watch.”

The idea has generated a great deal of reaction, most of it strongly unfavorable (it’d still be better than the NFL method of ending tied games, which saw the Atlanta Falcons lose the Super Bowl without getting to touch the ball in overtime). But I’m not convinced there is necessarily a problem here. Even shaving 10% off the length of a game, would reduce it from three hours.... to two hours and forty-two minutes, which hardly seems like it’ll make much difference in terms of keeping/attracting fans. But what do you think? Should games be quicker? And if so, what should be done to make it that way? If you were the commissioner, how would you change the game?

Writing a Fanpost

Note: comments will be locked on this post. So the only way to respond is to write a fanpost, in which you set out your position and explain it. Get started by clicking here! This will then take you into the editor. In many ways, it isn’t all that different from posting a comment - you get some more flexibility with regard to formatting, and it’s a spiffier editor, but you can simply write away if you want. You do need to come up with at least 150 words. And yes, repeating “Shelby Miller sux” 50 times will result in a firm, disapproving stare from the SnakePit authorities. Do not go there.

Protip: You may want to write it up in Notepad or whatever, then copy and paste it over. Or if you are writing directly into the editor, be careful with the backspace button. If your mouse is outside the body and you hit backspace, it will take you back a page and you may lose any work that has not been auto saved. Just trust me on this one.

Useful link: Extra Fanpost help guide