It’s two hours into the game and it’s the middle of the eighth, something unheard of in Major League Baseball. However, this isn’t the big leagues, rather the Independent League Long Island Ducks.
At the All-Star break this season, the Atlantic League – the Ducks circuit – installed a number of changes to improve the pace of the game. Initially, many scoffed at these changes. After all, baseball doesn’t change its rules. Case in point, we are still arguing about the designated hitter 41 years after its enactment.
But the Atlantic League is a bit different. With rosters filled with Double-A and Triple-A players, most in the stands want to enjoy a few hours at the ballpark, rooting for laundry, rather than having a vested interest in stars playing.
Some of these changes make total sense and some, well there’s a reason why they experiment in the independent league.
And there were some radical suggestions, such as a designated runner for the catcher, since it does take time for the backstop to put on his gear. That fortunately was scrapped.
The ones that were enacted made sense, although they may not translate into affiliated baseball. For one reason or another, they just may not work in MLB.
Let’s take a look closer to see if there’s change any of these enhancements will be seen at Citi Field or Yankee Stadium anytime soon.
- Enforcement of batters stepping out of the batter’s box: A batter needs to keep one foot in the batter’s box. Instead of wandering around a batter in the box will be prepared faster for the next pitch. This one can and should be brought into the big leagues.
- A 12 second rule between pitches: It’s safe to say Dice-K will have no place in the Atlantic League, but a clock in the MLB will be met with resistance. Yet, this does make sense and should be enacted.
- Intentional walks are automatic: There’s a reason why a pitcher is force to throw four balls, because something can go wrong. A wild pitch can happen or if it’s too close to the plate, it can be put in play. A noble idea, but something that should stay in the independent league.
- Limit mound visits to three a game without a pitching change: Tony LaRussa would have a fit, so would many managers, who would find ways around this rule. This one should be forgotten about.
- Reduce warmup pitches from eight to six: Another one that seems nice on paper, but the Players Union would have a fit on this one, as well as the owners. If you are paying a guy $10 million a year, you do not want to change any kind of injury. This one will never happen.
- Enforcement of the high strike: Yes do that one and do it now!
So there you have it. Baseball can speed up the pace a bit. As the Atlantic League is proving some of these changes do work well. Major League Baseball should look at this noble experiment and make adjustments to its game accordingly.