Are There Ways to Speed Up MLB Baseball Games?


The opening ceremonies of the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins.

The opening ceremonies in 2014 of the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins.

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.

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6 Responses to Are There Ways to Speed Up MLB Baseball Games?

  1. spacegary says:

    #1 and #3 are good ideas. They would add excitement to the end of the game, like the NHL shoot-outs. And most forms of auto racing have no clock, except when extreme conditions (usually rain or darkness) come into play.

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  2. David Shomper, ex-Apollo engineer says:

    Give up on MLB and watch Little League; the games the last week have been exciting (and fast).

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  3. _OM_ says:

    …While I gave up on the Majors 20 years ago, I have to comment on Roger’s suggestions. In order:

    1) A two-fold answer to extra innings: Limit the number of extra innings to four. This should be enough time to decide the winner in most overtime games. The second fold would be to not allow extra innings iff (sic) the game is televised. At which time the game is determined to be a tie and recorded as such. Exceptions would have to be made for Pennant and World Series games, which would naturally need to be open-ended games, but I doubt neither the fans nor the networks would begrudge the extra advertising time in such cases.

    Otay, so that’s a three-fold. Mea culprit 😛

    2) I’m in agreement with this one, despite the fact that runaway games can be a lot of fun if the team getting the crap beat out of them deserves it 😛

    3) Rog, there’s something about the home run derby solution that just doesn’t work for me. It works fine for soccer, but somehow it just doesn’t seem…”American enough” for baseball. Can’t explain it better than that, which earns me another mea culprit 😦

    4) Nonono, the mascots have to fight to the death. Which brings us to…

    5) The Commissioner has to keep track of each game that goes into extra innings. Then, based on the decision from the stands, the team with the lowest applause rating is put to the death. Note that this will require airhorns be banned from all ballparks, but that should have been done from the moment they first showed up on the shelves.

    5a) Put to the sword, or just beaten to death with official Louisville Sluggers? That’s the real question with this one, kids 🙂

    :OM:

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  4. _OM_ says:

    …On a side note, has anyone done a stat study on what the average number of extra innings have been required to decide a game’s outcome?

    :OM:

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