Baseball season is just under two weeks old… Are you tired yet?
For a sport which can cite the speed of the game as one of its major detractors, the 2014 season has already seen developments come to light to call into question whether the game needs to be sped up.
The advent of instant replay on select plays, allowing managers to challenge contentious calls, has added yet another stall tactic to the great summer spectacle.
Naturally, two weeks in, a pattern has emerged.
Many organizations have employed or utilized a “video coach” whose job it is to keep an eye on a monitor when close plays come about and to double-check whether the right call was made. In order to give managers better odds of winning challenges, a trend has now emerged where skippers saunter out to the umpire to discuss the call while awaiting a signal from the bench to decide whether or not the play is “challenge-worthy”.
Sometimes it is not and the game proceeds. Sometimes it is and more time is spent actually reviewing the play in question.
So, what's the solution?
Well, according to a report from ESPN's Buster Olney earlier this week, one MLB executive believes seven-inning games would help get the games done in roughly two-and-a-half hours.
But is that really the best way to speed up the game?
Solutions have been pitched before, however. In 2007, the MLB's official rules were altered to reduce the maximum amount of time a pitcher was allowed between pitches without runners on base. Under these rules, a pitcher was allowed no more than 12 seconds between pitches (down from 20) with the bases empty. The penalty for exceeding that time limit is an extra ball added to the batter's count.
Still, games clock in regularly at north of three hours.
So, is the seven-inning game a viable solution for Major League Baseball? Changes have been made in the past to alter the quality of the game both on- and off the field including the advent of the live-ball era, the lowering and raising of the pitcher's mound and – most notably – the restructuring of the League's substance abuse policy in the wake of the “Steroid era”.
Speaking of which: Wouldn't a switch to seven innings be a clever way to asterisk the records that Major League Baseball is hesitant to recognize? “Sure, Barry Bonds is the all-time home run king… but that was during the nine-inning era.”
What do you say? Would you be in favour of just heading home at the seventh-inning stretch?
As always, it's Your! Call.