Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the 30 owners are soon going to be looking at ways to reduce the amount of time it takes to play a game. Right now, the average time to play a baseball game in the Major Leagues is three hours. Forty years ago, it took less than two and one-half hours to play one. I have a couple of suggestions that I think would greatly reduce time it takes to play a baseball time – and that does not include a pitch clock, which I believe would be very unnatural to the game.
For one thing, MLB should limit the number of pitching changes each team can make in a game. Pitching changes have gotten to the point of being ridiculous. Pitchers rarely throw complete games anymore. If you look at the box scores in your daily newspaper or online, you will see some teams using as many as six or seven pitchers in a single game. This has become fairly common, and greatly contributes to the excessive length of today’s games. Barring an injury, teams should be limited to no more three pitching changes per nine-inning game, and no more than one per inning. In the case of extra innings, each team would be afforded one extra pitching change per every two additional innings, e.g., a fourth pitching change in the 11th inning, a fifth pitching change in the 13th inning, and so on.
The other thing that I believe will speed up the games is a change to the foul ball rule. Right now, there’s no limit to how many times a player can hit a foul ball in a single at-bat. The continuous fouling off of pitches by a batter with two strikes is tiresome to most baseball fans. Once a player has a second strike recorded against him, he should be limited to two foul balls from that point. On the third one, he should be called out. In baseball, it has always been three strikes and you’re out. Now it should also be three fouls balls and you’re out.