Buster Olney published nine proposed rule changes for baseball today. They’re pretty much all bad, running the gamut from sacrilegious (7 inning games) to confusing (using real pitchers in the home run derby, which would pretty much remove home runs from the event).
Rather than complain about Olney’s ill-conceived project, which was done with the input of Mike and Mike listeners (which explains everything), I’m giving a list of three things I’d do if I was Commissioner of Baseball.
First, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with baseball. The only thing wrong with baseball is that when you watch a game, you often have to wait too long to actually watch baseball. There are too many delays in the modern game. Late-game pitching changes and replay reviews are the biggest culprits. Therefore, all my changes are designed to move the game along.
1. Limit Replay Reviews to 30 seconds. Listen, I hate replay. I think it’s unnecessary. But I’m realistic enough to realize it’s here to stay because the chance of an umpire missing a game-changing call scares people into accepting it. So here’s my solution: 30 second replays. That’s it. If the call isn’t obviously wrong–and it should be immediately apparent within 30 seconds that it is–keep the game moving. Replay isn’t there to forensically dissect every play like the Zapruder film. It’s there to fix an obvious mistake the umpire didn’t see. Here’s a baseline: when relievers feel obligated to throw warm-up pitches during replay reviews, replay reviews are too long.
2. Eliminate Warm-up Pitches for Mid-inning Pitching Changes. You’ve just been throwing in the bullpen for 10 minutes. You don’t need to warm-up again when you get to the mound. You’re already warm. Now, I realize relievers use the warm-up pitches to acquaint themselves with a new mound surface. Too bad. Your uncertainty about throwing off a new rubber surface shouldn’t make me sit around for 5 extra minutes in the DC humidity.
3. All Relievers Must Record One Out. Mid-inning pitching changes are the biggest time drag on baseball. Watching teams use three different relievers on three different batters is a soul-crushing experience for the fan. Here’s the compromise: use as many relievers as you want, but if they can’t get an out, you’re stuck with them. This rule incentivizes managers to give relievers full innings to work so they’re not stuck with a highly unfavorable matchup when their LOOGY or ROOGY reliever doesn’t retire the first hitter. In addition to cutting down on idle time watching relievers run in from the bullpen, this rule change increases the likelihood of more offense and more late-inning comebacks, which are both fun. It’ll be harder for teams to neutralize hitters like Bryce Harper since they can’t play “match-up” baseball late in games.