There has been a lot of commentary of late about the length of time being required to play major league baseball games. I know from personal experience that many of the Washington Nationals games are more than three hours in length, and it is not uncommon that game can be hour hours or even longer.
Many people have offered fixes for this problem. Most of them require instituting a clock on various aspects of the game. Those include limiting the seconds between pitches or the time the catcher and pitcher can confer on the mound. Other ideas limit the number of trips coaches and managers can make to the mound, the number of warm-up pitches a reliever can take, or the number of times the infielders can sling the ball around the horn.
Any or all of these, and probably others, might be instituted. I hope MLB does not institute a clock. Baseball is the only major sport without a clock and I would like to keep it that way. But the problem is real; we need to speed up games. Here are five half-baked, screwball, tongue-firmly-in-cheek ideas for how to solve the problem.
1. Eliminate extra innings. In the event of a tie at the end of nine innings there should be a home run derby to decide the game, each side sending its best hitter to take ten batting practice pitches and whoever hits the most out wins the game.
2. Eliminate runaway games. If a team scores nine runs, the game is called at the end of the full inning with the victory going to the highest scorer.
3. Alternatively, any game reaching the four hour mark will be decided by the home run derby discussed above.
4. Another alterative, for any game reaching four hours in duration the mascots from the two teams will race around the field to decide the game.
5. Let the spectators decide the winner, again probably at the four hour mark, by texting their vote for one team or the other based on whatever criteria they choose.
Did I say that these are half-baked, screwball, tongue-firmly-in-cheek ideas? They are. Don’t take them seriously.