Over the past couple of years, the media had portrayed baseball as too long. They take that image and form it into the idea that the game of baseball is now long and boring. Many think that it’s outdated and no longer appeals to a large enough audience.
In response to this new public image, Commissioner Rob Manfred has attempted to implement new tactics to fix this image. The most commonly new known tactic is the pitch clock. It’s still in the works but it has been used at the minor league levels and will be used in spring training this upcoming season.
The reaction to the pitch clock has been mixed. The “traditional” baseball fans have voiced their displeasure but it does show potential to shorten the game. However, I don’t believe it’s the best way to shorten the game.
The problem with the pitch clock is that it impacts the actual game. One of the most prominent things in the game of baseball is that it has stayed the same for an extremely long time compared to other major sports. That’s what the “traditional” baseball fans love about the game. It’s not even just that demographic that appreciates it either. Many respect the game for that aspect and it has been embedded into what makes the game of baseball so great.
So, to solve the issue, you can’t touch the actual game. You have to find a way to change the game without actually changing it. There is a way to do it too. The answer falls into the time between innings. Now, part of the whole “pitch clock” idea does include shortening the time between innings. However, their approach to the time between innings is wrong.
Major League Baseball fields are beautiful and kept in such peak condition so that the field conditions don’t impact the game itself. Specifically, look at the mounds. There is no variation as to their dimensions across Major League Baseball. It could be in the bullpens or on the field, they are all kept to the same dimensions and conditions.
My point is that the time a pitcher gets to warm up on the mound is entirely unnecessary. Yes, they still need plenty of time to get loose and get ready to enter the game but they don’t need any time to do it on the actual field. The bullpen mounds are built to be identical to the mound on the field so why is it that when pitchers are entering the game they still need time to warm up? The honest answer is that they don’t. They don’t need time to warm up but they are given time to throw so that they can adjust to the mound. This is utterly unnecessary and a waste of time.
It’s during that period of time that nothing is going on in the ballpark and fans become disinterested. It’s even worse for those viewing the game on their television. They can’t even enjoy the atmosphere of the ballpark. Instead, they are forced to watch commercials. Television viewers spend too much time not watching what they want to see. They want to see the game of baseball and not commercials.
So, how do we go about solving this issue? There are many moving parts to this solution and I want to explain each piece so that you can see how this is an actual solution to shortening the game of baseball and enhancing the viewer’s experience.
First, you need to move the bullpens. Why are they placed so far away from the game in the first place? Bullpens are too far away from the mound on the field and in most scenarios. They take up space that could be used for seating instead. Resulting in more revenue for the organizations and more opportunities for fans to attend games.
Bullpens need to be placed behind the dugouts and under the stands. This isn’t something that isn’t already being done. Behind the dugouts are clubhouses, batting cages, and many other spaces where players spend most of their time. So why not put the bullpens there too? This would allow for easy communication between coaches and players. It would also allow relievers to enter the game faster than ever before. No longer will there be long runs from the bullpen to the mound. No longer will a pitcher need such an excessive amount of time to warm up on the mound on the field. The mounds are kept in such great condition that once a pitcher enters the game they should be completely ready to pitch. Those warm-up pitches do not need to be entirely eliminated but the entire process of making a pitching change should be able to be completed in 30 seconds to a minute.
Why does the manager need to go out and take the ball from his pitcher? He can make this move from the dugout. Managers communicate with their players, challenge plays, and do many other things from that spot. So, they should be able to make a pitch change easily. Just a way to cut off even more time.
We can cut the time between innings as well. Potentially, the time between innings can also be cut down to a minute or less. All that needs to happen is one team gets off of the field while the other takes there place. We don’t need this time set aside for warmups. Pitchers can stay warm between innings in the bullpens. When the bullpens are so close to the dugouts then there is no need for warm-up pitches between innings.
If Major League Baseball were to adopt the universal designated hitter, pitchers wouldn’t have to worry about hitting and can spend the time between innings making sure that they are ready to renter the game. No one wants to see the pitcher hit. With a universal designated hitter, it allows for an increase in offensive production which would work to increase the attention of fans.
No longer are the days of bullpens being unnecessarily far away from the game. If bullpens are moved and the time between innings is shortened it can only lead to good things for the game of baseball. These changes allow for an increase in fan enhancement, an increase in revenue, and an improvement in the public image of the game of baseball.
So long is the wasted time between innings when many fans become disinterested and bored with the game. These simple changes can have such a profound impact on the game and change it for the better.
No one can say if Major League Baseball will ever make these changes but the answer to one of their bigger problems is right in front of them. The game of baseball can only get better.