North Carolina State University’s baseball team was one game away from reaching the 2021 finals, a ‘best of three’ for the NCAA championship. Then it was bounced from the tournament because of COVID-related matters. A terrible decision!
Tonight Vanderbilt, which benefited from the decision, plays Mississippi State in Game Two of the finals. I am leery, however, of watching the entire game. Why?
Molasses Moves Faster
In 2015, I had intended to watch an entire college baseball game: the second game between Villanova University and the University of Virginia in the finals. The game was well played. However, with a starting time of 8 p.m. eastern, at 11:30 p.m. the game had only progressed 7½ innings.
You might think that the run total was enormous. It was only 3 to 0, in favor of Virginia. I finally turned on the DVR, and went to bed. In the morning, I watch the rest the game, which took another 22 minutes.
Six years later, the game remains as slow as ever. Can college baseball take a clue from major league baseball? People do not want to sit for 3 to 4 hours for a typical game.
Out with the Old
College baseball needs to change a variety of long-standing rules and traditions. Here are my suggestions:
* No more four pitches to intentionally walk a batter. Throw one pitch wide, and then wave the batter to first base.
* No more batters walking to first after four balls or an intentional pass; they must run as if they had gotten a hit, or face a delay-of-game warning. Two delay-of-game warnings for a non-pitcher and the player should be tossed out of the game.
* No more teams strolling on and off the field before and after innings. They must run out and run back.
* In each inning, reduce pitcher warm-ups before facing batters by two pitches.
* Reduce all visits to the mound by 30 seconds, whether it’s the team manager or in-fielders.
* Reduce relief pitcher warm-up prior to them facing their first batter by three pitches unless a relief pitcher is pressed into service due to an injury to the current pitcher. Otherwise much of a reliever’s warm-up occurs in the bullpen anyway.
* Allow batters to step out of the box twice, maximum, per time at bat. No more pauses between every other pitch.
* Allow the pitcher to step off the mound twice per batter, maximum. No more floating around and deciding when to throw the next pitch.
Here is a big change but it’s needed to counter those batters who are skilled at fouling off pitch after pitch: on a batter’s third foul ball, declare him out by strike out, much like a failed bunt attempt.
The Missing Ingredient
Now, the most vital element of all: in any game, 150 pitches or so will be thrown by each side for total of 300. With ten seconds less per pitch, on 300 pitches, that equates to 3000 seconds or 50 minutes. Thus, games can be shortened by 50 minutes when pitchers have ten less seconds than they currently have to throw the next pitch.
College baseball, as it presently stands, is a slow, plodding game, and is losing fans. Typical major league baseball games, 30 years ago, took 2:36 and then also started to see ever-longer games.
As for college baseball today, no less than major surgery – a time-indectomy – is needed.
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