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10 Ways to Speed Up MLB Baseball

Thirty years ago the average baseball game was just over two-and-a-half hours long. According to STATS LLC, the lowest average game time last year could be found at Safeco Field in Seattle – where the

Thirty years ago the average baseball game was just over two-and-a-half hours long. According to STATS LLC, the lowest average game time last year could be found at Safeco Field in Seattle – where the Mariners averaged 2:45 per game. Most teams eclipsed the 2:50 mark, and four teams averaged over three hours a game.

There’s a variety of reasons for this increase in game length. Some of these reasons there’s nothing we can do much about. Increased interest in sabermetrics has led to more defensive shifts, specialized bullpen use and pitching around certain hitters. The importance of the walk (being just as good as a hit) has allowed batters to take more pitches in each at bat – leading to an increase in pitches thrown. All of these add a bit of time to each game and none of them are going away any time soon.

Major League Baseball can’t limit the number of pitching changes, the position of the fielders, or the number of throws to first base, but there are possible changes that if implemented would decrease game times and make the game more engaging.

9 Enforce the Pitching Clock

Tim Lincecum (55) prepares to deliver a pitch during the first inning against the Boston Red Sox at AT&T Park. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Images

8 Stepping out of the Batter’s Box

Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli (12) at bat against the Minnesota Twins during their game at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports Images

Once a batter steps into the batter box he’s a live batter until he calls time. Yet all of us have seen the endless parade of stepping into the box, taking a pitch, stepping out, adjusting several articles of clothing, getting a sign, digging back into the same hole you were just standing in, then reading for another pitch – and God forbid the pitcher take too long to throw it, because then the batter calls time and the process repeats.

Once a batter steps into the box and is ready he shouldn’t be allowed to step out without calling time. If pitchers need to be on a clock, it’s not unreasonable for batters to assume some responsibility as well. Time is then granted (or not) by the umpire. If the batter wants to step back out that’s fine, but the pitcher should be allowed to fire away.

7  8. Reduce the Number of Trips to the Mound by the Catcher

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) and catcher Jose Molina (28) talk during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Images

6  7. Enforce the Strike Zone – Particularly the High Strike

Home plate umpire Doug Eddings (88) calls strike three on Kansas City Royals pinch hitter Carlos Pena (23) in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indiansat Progressive Field. Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports Images

5 Hold Everyone Accountable

MLB umpires Tony Randazzo (11) , Larry Vanover (27) , Brian Gorman (9) and Manny Gonzalez (79) conference after the strike call during the first inning between the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays at O.co Coliseum. Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports Images

4 Hold the Umpire Accountable

MLB umpire Sean Barber during the game between the East against the West during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Images

3 Reduce or Eliminate some of those TV Timeouts

A TV field director holds up a yellow sign during the commercial break during the bottom of the fifth inning of a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports Images

2 Limit Reliever Warm-Up Pitches

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Andrew Miller (30) throws against the Minnesota Twins during their game at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports Images

1 Eliminate the Stupidity of the Intentional Walk

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) catches the ball for an intentional walk against Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) during the tenth inning at AT&T Park. Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports Images
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Carlos Marmol (49) reacts after being called for a balk during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports Images

Again, a minor quibble, but one of the biggest complaints from casual fans is that the "pitcher throws to first all the time!" It slows down the game, especially when a certain former player named Pettite is on the mound. But guess what? A lot of throws are actually balks. If umpires called the balk correctly it might lessen the number of throws to first base, which will speed up the game. In addition, it might lead to more stolen bases, which also adds back in more excitement.

Speeding up the pace of play is better for everyone. Fans and players stay engaged. More batted balls in play lead to more spectacular things, like hits and errors. More importantly, baseball is losing legions of fans each year. Pick up the pace of the game and just maybe some of those fans who turn off the game at 10 PM when it’s in the sixth inning will hang around to see how it ends.

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10 Ways to Speed Up MLB Baseball