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Sunday's question of the day: What one rules change would you make to speed up baseball games?

October 11, 2009 |  2:59 pm

Reporters from the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they are wrong.

Today's question: What one rules change would you make to speed up baseball games?

Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times

I'll offer two proposals, the first with a nod to Jonathan Swift: Ban the Yankees and Qotd Red Sox from the playoffs. Their batters take way too many pitches. Should the Yankees and Sox play each other in the American League championship, the over-under on time of game would be four hours even. The second proposal, which has about as much chance of becoming reality: Shorten the window for television commercials. In the playoffs, MLB lengthens the time between innings so Fox and TBS can sell more commercials. That extra commercial time is the single greatest factor in the long playoff games. But, if MLB tells Fox and TBS to cut the extra commercials, then Fox and TBS will cut millions out of their payments to MLB. Good luck convincing the owners to take less money so the games can take less time.

Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune

For starters, I probably should have recused myself from this panel. Why do baseball games need to be shorter? With ticket prices being what they are, they really ought to be longer. I was watching a Cubs game from a rooftop on Sheffield Avenue this summer – air quotes around watching -- and the game was flying. Three up, three down. In and out. I wasn’t happy. I wanted my money’s worth. Luckily the Cubs brought in Kevin Gregg, and he served up the requisite blown – bonus innings, free baseball. Humm, baby. The biggest reason games sometime drag is the time between innings. That’s TV. That’s revenue. It’s not going to change. You could speed up games by limiting teams to 11-man pitching staffs – or even 10-man staffs, old school style – which would reduce the role of specialists and the frequency of pitching changes. Two less relievers a game would save five minutes or more. The value of workhorse pitchers would increase, and what’s wrong with that?
Don Amore, Hartford Courant

The primary reason baseball games take so long today is not hitters stepping out, or pitchers fidgeting on the mound, or network commercials.
The modern hitter is coached to take pitches and work counts far more than ever before. Watch games from the 1970s on ESPN Classic and this is apparent.
 The only way to counteract this from a rules standpoint is to restore the strike zone to its rule-book interpretation, from the letters to the knees, and train umpires to watch for pitches that cross the plate in the strike zone and then move out.
In other words, call more strikes.
This will prompt hitters to swing earlier in counts, putting more balls in play. It will make for longer outings by starters and fewer pitching changes. And it  will move the game along much faster.

Bill Kline, Allentown Morning Call

Baseball needs more than one rule change to speed games that are slower than Jay Leno's 10 p.m. monologue. It needs a jackhammer to its rulebook. Recommendations from one exasperated fan:
(1) The pitcher gets 12 seconds to release the ball (20 seconds with a runner on base) after he receives it. Penalty: Base on balls.
(2) Hitters get one trip out of the batter's box per at-bat. And while we're at it: They also get just one glare at the ump, one spit and one, uh, scratch. Penalty: Automatic out and a bottle of Purell.
(3) Each team's entire pitching staff is limited to a total of 10 pickoff attempts per game. Penalty: Pitcher required to bunk with Rickey Henderson on next road trip.
(4) Finally, demand that umpires enforce all of its rules. After all, baseball already has a pitch clock that never gets called.