Along with famine, disease, pollution, and poverty, one of the world’s most pressing problems is the length of Major League Baseball games. Case in point, 2008 World Series Game 5, which took over 48 hours from beginning to end. Come on, Commissioner Selig. Time to take drastic action so that we diehard fans can regain precious hours of our hectic lives.
Strike One: Batters stepping out of the box between pitches
Every prima donna at bat knows that the TV cameras are zoomed right on him, so before every pitch, he steps out, tightens his left batting glove, tightens his right batting glove, adjusts his athletic cup, adjusts his batting helmet, spits into his batting gloves, rubs his gloves together, shrugs his shoulders, rolls his neck, knocks the dirt out of his cleats, then repeats. Between every pitch. Just to maximize face time on TV. Oh, the pain!
Puh-lease. Mr. Commissioner, we’re begging you, eliminate this time wasting by the strongest means possible—hit them in their obscenely fat wallets. That’s right, fine ‘em. Once a batter steps into the box, fine him for each transgression. Say, $100 for each batting glove or helmet adjustment, $250 per cup adjustment (little old blue-haired ladies watching in their parlors don’t want to see that), $400 per spit (clean up your act, boys), and $500 for stepping out to begin with. Per pitch.
With such steep fines, these despicable behaviors will quickly come to a halt, and game times will drop dramatically. Multiply the time currently wasted per step out by the average number of pitches per game, times 162 games per team per year, and each fan will regain several days worth of his summer. A guaranteed home run with your baseball audience.
Strike Two: Pitching changes
Pitching changes take forever. Just because the starter is getting tired, or shelled, or the manager wants a certain lefty-righty matchup, that’s no reason to induce a fan siesta before the next pitcher is ready. The relievers should have already been warming up, so why give ‘em so many more pitches on the mound before batter up? Eliminate all but one.
And don’t get me started on the pitching change delay tactics—infielders’ trips to the mound, catcher’s trips to the mound, the pitching coach’s trip to the mound, and finally the manager’s …time…stands…still…saunter to the mound. Ever see Bull Durham or read Ball Four? All they’re really talking about is some babealicious chick in the front row.
New rule—eliminate trips to the mound. If anybody needs to communicate with the pitcher, let ‘em do it the proper baseball way, with signs. Part of the game’s entertainment value is watching the nose pulling, ear tugging, head scratching, and belly rubbing, so give ‘em another legitimate reason to do it. Maybe they’ll even have to amp it up a notch, kinda look like break dancers.
And when the manager wants to make a pitching change, make him just yell it to the ump from the dugout. Given managers’ expert yelling abilities, plus umps’ obviously keen, super-acute senses of hearing, it’ll be a snap.
Strike Three: Foul balls after two strikes
A batter is currently rewarded for fouling off what would have been strike three by getting to continue his at-bat. The more foul balls he hits, the longer he stays at the plate (and more Strike Ones, discussed earlier.) Darth Selig, make the pros play by the same strict rules as us weekend softball beer-leaguers—hit a foul on strike three and you’re out. Hang your head in shame for being such a lousy hitter, sulk back to the bench, and have another brewski. That should save another half-hour or so per game.
These modest changes alone should cut your average six hour MLB game time way down. East coasters may still nod off into their popcorn before the game ends, but fewer will show up at work the next day as totally sleep-deprived zombies.
As for the west coasters, by finishing the games at a reasonable hour each night, enough time would be freed up for those fans to actually talk to their spouses and kids between the months of April and October. Save the American family. It’s in your hands.
Be bold, Lord Selig. Shorten MLB games for the betterment of all mankind.
(An earlier version of this article appeared on HumorVolcano.com)