The Mark Buehrle RuleMarch 8, 2010
Do you ever read one of Ken Rosenthal‘s foxsports articles just to get a glimpse into the mind of a madman? Insane? Maybe. But fun? Definitely. Don’t you enjoy concocting crackpot scenarios in which the Yankees end up with Bonds and Griffey, and we wouldn’t have to give up that much? Do you pop in MLB The Show or Baseball Mogul and take pride in the ability to swindle the Giants out of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain with a package of 5 star low A relievers?
Now, the differences are obvious. Ken Rosenthal works for a national sports company. He is on TV. He writes for a major website. So maybe it is strange when he suggests realigning baseball with little logic or reason (the last one is my favorite, move the A’s into the Yankees and Red Sox division in a format that groups teams by payroll, then plunk them in New Jersey). These are the kind of ideas I expect to hear from my friends after a fine afternoon spent huffing paint and watching PTI. This is not what I expect from a national sports writer. But maybe that is a good thing. If Ken Rosenthal can do it, so can I! So I hereby grant myself license to both make up news and write about inane ideas. The best part is that unlike Mr. Rosenthal I can’t have my articles pulled by the big bosses, as so frequently happens to him.
Here is what I propose as my grand change to baseball: speed up the games!
Groundbreaking, eh? I guess perhaps I am not as creative as my fellow writer, but I really don’t see the need or benefits of realignment, of eliminating or standardizing the DH, of changing the mound height, or of putting a salary cap in place. Baseball is great because of the oddities and differences between the leagues and between teams.
Every team operates with a different strategy. Depending on your league, your home field, your budget and your personnel your team will develop an independent persona. The cap seems unnecessary because in spite of the issues of “unfairness” any team can be competitive with competent management. I’ll save any further arguing against a cap for another day, because it will inevitably come up as a national topic at some point during the summer and I will turn to this screen to rage against the man on TV.
But back to my wholly unoriginal but entirely important idea. I see no issues with the mechanics of the game, so the efforts should be turned to streamlining it. Faster games would mean several things: You can watch more of them (hooray for mlb.tv), the playoffs won’t end so late on the east coast, and casual fans will be more inclined to watch something with a less boring pace.
The Hardball Times has a list (from 2008, mind you) of the fastest and slowest paced pitchers in baseball, and if you’ve seen him pitch (especially during his perfect game) you’ll probably see just the man you expect to be at the top of the list: Mark Buehrle. Another article from the same site mentions baseball’s rulebook, which states that the ball must be delivered within 12 seconds, with timing beginning when the pitcher has the ball and the batter is in the box ready to bat, and ending when the ball is released. Not only is that not the norm, but it is pretty rare to see the ball delivered that quickly.
So it seems to cure for this issue isn’t to change a rule, but to simply enforce a rule that is already in place. Even extending the rule to 15 seconds would work, and would allow for pitcher to move briskly without being rushed. Small fines (such as the fines handed out to Jonathan Papelbon last year) won’t cut it. On field penalties are the only way to make sure the rule is followed, and the rulebook itself calls for a ball to be added to the count whenever there is a violation. It would be simple for the umpire to enforce, it can be counted off the same way several violations are counted off in basketball, or they could use a watch/scoreboard clock.
Barring putting the Mark Buehrle rule in place I suggest something a little more… extensive.