Kajani: Speed up baseball…please

It’s that time of the year again: the regular season is over, the playoffs are beginning and baseball is at it’s finest. But for some reason, I couldn’t care less.

Baseball is a sport that’s going through a relatively rough patch. Fresh off of the Mitchell Report and the steroids era, baseball is in dire need of an image change. Most of the current talk surrounding baseball pertains to who took what performance enhancer and the crucial need for the expansion of instant replay, as well as which branch of government Roger Clemens is currently lying to about not taking steroids.

Especially during this time in the fall when basketball, football and hockey emerge from their summer slumber, it can be hard for baseball to compete for the attention of the average sports fans. There’s just so much going on that baseball can sometimes slip through the cracks. This is not to say that the playoffs so far have not been eventful. We’ve seen the defeat of the imperial Yankees, the triumph of two underdogs in the Rangers and Giants making it to the World Series and the first postseason no-hitter in 50 years by the impeccable Roy Halladay. Yet, there isn’t much for me to get excited about.

In other sports, I always look forward to their respective postseasons, even if the team I support isn’t in the playoffs. I study matchups, I read previews and I spend hours watching playoff games, but I can’t say the same thing for baseball. However, all hope is not lost. With a few changes, baseball can make America fall in love with it all over again. So what exactly should be done to fix the game?

Firstly, baseball games need to be shortened. America’s favorite pastime? More like America’s favorite wastetime. The average length of a nine-inning major league baseball game is about three hours, an awfully long time to watch grown men adjust their jock straps and chew huge wads of tobacco in between pitches. If they manage to hit those pitches, they more often than not will stay in the infield. I’ve dozed off many times with a baseball game on TV only to wake up to the same score an hour later.

If I were the commissioner of the MLB, my first course of action would be to shorten the game’s length by not allowing players to step out of the batter’s box more than once during an at-bat. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen baseball players waste time by stepping out of the batter’s box after every pitch to look back at the dugout or adjust some piece of equipment, even if they don’t take a swing. I watch the games to see baseball, not to see Nomar Garciaparra fiddle with his gloves like an over-caffeinated origami artist. At least Garciaparra has retired.

It’s also time that baseball introduced a pitch clock. Technically, there is already a rule that says the pitcher must deliver his pitch 12 seconds after he receives the ball. If the pitcher doesn’t deliver the pitch in time, then the umpire will call a ball. I’ve never seen that rule enforced. With the introduction of an actual pitch clock (similar to the shot clock used in basketball) umpires will be more inclined to actually enforce the rule, forcing pitchers to pitch quickly.

This pitch clock is essential to speeding up games. Imagine how boring basketball would be without a shot clock. Teams could spend more time looking for Waldo than for a good shot without the pressure of a shot clock. With the implementation of these two simple rules, fans would be able to spend more time watching the exciting aspects of baseball that we all love rather than waiting for them.

The MLB also needs to address the expansion of replay. Just this season alone we have enough evidence to show why baseball needs to make this change: Armando Galaraga’s botched perfect game, controversial fair or foul calls in this years postseason and Derek Jeter’s Oscar performance of pretending to have been hit by a pitch.

There is no reason not to expand replay. One could make the argument that expanding replay would just lengthen an already long game, but some of these mistakes made by umpires can affect the outcome of games, even careers (as it did for Galaraga).

Just look at the World Cup this summer. FIFA faced heavy scrutiny for not expanding replay when we saw missed call after missed call, some of which affected the outcomes of games (remember the phantom offside call in the USA’s match against Slovenia? Remember how you felt like bashing that referee upside the head for making that call? Yeah, me too). Adding a couple minutes to review crucial calls in games is much better than dealing with the frustration and controversy of a missed call.

Not making these changes would be about as logical as a police officer tasing a cooperative student during a raid. It just doesn’t make sense not to make these changes.

Another thing baseball can do to increase interest and compete with other sports during the fall is to expand the playoffs. Compared to the NFL, NBA and NHL, baseball has the fewest number of teams in the postseason. Adding a couple more wildcard spots to the playoffs would mean that more people would watch the playoffs. Plus, having more playoff games would mean more revenue for more teams and baseball as a whole. If more people watch the playoffs from the start, they will be more inclined to continue to keep up with the rest of the postseason.

Baseball purists would argue that the beauty in the game is found in all the flaws, that we shouldn’t change any of the rules, that the game should be played the way it was made, that changing the rules would compromise the integrity of the game, blah blah blah. In this day and age of Twitter, Facebook and anything else that feeds our insatiable appetite for instant gratification, baseball is way too slow of a sport to continue to capture our interest. Some changes are necessary to allow baseball to grow and survive. The United States government doesn’t interpret the Constitution the way it was written in 1787: Why should baseball be played the same way it was when it was created? There are some flaws, and if we have the technology and means to fix them, why not?

Baseball is a beautiful game. There isn’t anything quite like going to watch baseball on a warm summer night. We get to see athletes making diving catches, managers making strategic decisions, as well as batters displaying their tremendous power — the only problem is, sometimes it can be a little boring. By making some of these changes, baseball can continue to grow and be loved by people all over America, and even the world.

Raahil Kajani is a sophomore in Branford College.

Comments

  • Summer

    > I’ve dozed off many times with a baseball game on TV only to wake up to the same score an hour later.

    None of your rules will change this.

    > This pitch clock is essential to speeding up games. Imagine how boring basketball would be without a shot clock.

    Without a shot clock, basketball players could stall indefinitely. Baseball is not a timed game, and thus waiting an extra ten seconds (or two hours) is not a winning tactic. Games are measured by outs, not by seconds on a clock.

    > The MLB also needs to address the expansion of replay.
    >Another thing baseball can do to increase interest and compete with other sports during the fall is to expand the playoffs.

    This will, of course, inevitably slow down games and make the season longer.

    > The United States government doesn’t interpret the Constitution the way it was written in 1787: Why should baseball be played the same way it was when it was created?

    This is the worst excuse for critical thinking I’ve ever seen in the YDN.

  • applelemontea

    This article actually made me make an account in order to post a response to this article/editorial

    ***”Most of the current talk surrounding baseball pertains to who took what performance enhancer”***
    – performance enhancer is in every sport, and baseball cannot be made an exception of and characterized by being ridden with performance enhancers

    ***”it can be hard for baseball to compete for the attention of the average sports fanssports fans”***

    -what is an “average sports fan”? Do you know how many people in the world watch baseball?

    ***”I watch the games to see baseball, not to see Nomar Garciaparra fiddle with his gloves like an over-caffeinated origami artist”***
    – Garciaparra fiddling with his gloves is only highlighted because of the media that shows the game of baseball. I think it’s unfair to characterize baseball from what you see on TV, because that’s obviously succumbing to media’s influences without even thinking about it.

    ***”some of these mistakes made by umpires can affect the outcome of games, even careers (as it did for Galaraga)”***
    – How did it affect career of Galaraga? Even if he threw a perfect game he would be getting paid the same salary and it wouldn’t alter his average performance any more so than not getting the perfect game. Of course, the referee was an idiot for doing that to him, but the blotched call didn’t significantly affect his career.

    ***”Some changes are necessary to allow baseball to grow and survive.”
    “sometimes it can be a little boring. By making some of these changes, baseball can continue to grow and be loved by people all over America, and even the world.”***
    – really?… the world? Do you know how many crazy fans of baseball there are in Latin America and Asia? Maybe they might not be a fan of MLB, but people LOVE baseball all around the world.

  • Goldie08

    Game speed relies on the ability of hitters to foul off balls. Free swingers will go up to bat, get a hit or strike out. Those with better plate discipline are able to extend at bats to 6, 7, 8 pitches or more, as they wait for “their pitch.”

    Many pitchers these days want to get through a game fast. Watch Halladay, Lincecum and Lee – they run out to the mound to start each inning and waste hardly any time between pitches. They eat batters for lunch and want to run through as many as possible as fast as possible.

    When the starters get replaced in the later innings, you can see relievers take more time per pitch. They are unsure of what to throw. They watch less film than starters. They study batters less.

    Lastly, though I despise the umpire Joe West, the Yankees and Red Sox do seem to take a long time to play.

    Expand replay. Don’t change anything else. No new teams. No new postseason spots. Divisional series at 5 games. Reg season at 162.

  • Frashizzle

    Great article, great analogies, great “critical thinking.”
    Baseball Needs:
    Replay
    Fewer regular season games
    More post season games
    Faster games
    Hard Cap

  • Frashizzle

    “Great article, great analogies, great ‘critical thinking.’ Baseball Needs: Replay Fewer regular season games More post season games Faster games Hard Cap”

    That comment is the worst excuse for critical thinking that I’ve ever seen in the YDN.

    I lol-ed.