Friday, August 23, 2019

MLB Needs a Pitching Change Clock!

I was recently at Fenway to see the Orioles visit the Red Sox. It was a beautiful night for a ballgame, and the game was going well.
The Sox had a 2-0 lead after scoring two runs in the fifth, and the Orioles were still in trouble. They made a call to the bullpen.

Miguel Castro got the call, and made his way to the mound.








It was amazing. I have a feeling that they are told to run in, because he was sort of hopping a bit to make sure both feet left the ground every step or two. But, it wasn't speedy in the least. It brought the game to a screeching halt.

Especially since we all knew that just getting to the mound was only part of it. He would still get to throw warm-up tosses once he got there. It was excruciating.

And it always seemed odd to me. In no other sport do they stop the game to allow a sub to get a few practice tries in. Can you imagine bringing in the kicker in an NFL game and giving him a few tries to warm up his leg? An NBA sub getting a few shots at the basket? It's crazy.

But, they do it for baseball pitchers. And, only pitchers. A substitute outfielder doesn't get mid-inning tosses. Not even a catcher. Odd.

So, it occurred to me...those should be treated as a luxury. Something the pitcher has to earn. 

How would he earn them?

By getting his butt to the mound as fast as possible.

A pitching change needs a time limit. From the second the manager leaves the dugout to the time the first pitch is thrown by the new reliever. Say, 90 seconds.

If the manager gets his act together, and calls for the change right away and the pitcher sprints in from the bullpen, he gets to throw a couple pitches from the mound. If either of those two take their sweet time, then he starts losing warm-ups.

That puts the onus on the people on the field to get a move on. 

Even if it doesn't save all that much actual time, at least it will feel like it does. People in the stands won't watch people chatting on the mound, stalling so the reliever can get one more pitch in. We won't watch a guy slowly stroll to the mound. Ten seconds of nothing but watching someone walk to their position feels like an eternity. But, watching a guy hustle in at least makes me feel like something is happening.

Which is really all that baseball needs. Its games aren't long, in themselves. They're no longer than an NFL game. But, there are a few moments, like pitching changes, where it seems like it's taking longer. It also tends to happen at the most exciting times. When a pitcher needs changing, there are usually men on base. It's usually an important time in the game. Tensions are high. Excitement is at its peak.

And you take a break to watch a guy walk to the mound. That's an easy fix.

Get them running.

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