There has been a lot of talk lately about making baseball cool again.
Current and former players have weighed in, including Ken Griffey, Jr., who was as cool as they came back in the day. But it's been awhile since Junior turned the cap backward, and some (younger?) fans feel the game needs tweaking.
It's too slow. It's too long. It needs to change.
Baseball is fine the way it is. In fact, it's still our greatest game. At its best, as it was on Tuesday night in the All-Star Game, it's spectacular to watch. I'll take a 2-1, 10-inning pitching masterpiece over a slug fest any day.
Obviously, we're talking about the game's greatest players in a one-night exhibition. Every pitcher who took the mound was an ace, so the talent level was much higher, and impossible to match in the regular season. That'd be like expecting every NHL game, with its third and fourth-line players, to look like an Olympic game. But come playoff time, and especially in the World Series, nobody is complaining about the talent level. The Indians and Cubs put on an epic seven-game series this past November.
The pace? That could be improved. There have been many suggestions on how to do it, including going to a seven-inning game, going to just three balls and two strikes, etc.
I don't like either.
Not just because baseball, more than any other sport, is a game measured by statistics and records, but because playing nine innings over three hours isn't the problem. Who complains about a three-hour NFL game, or a college football game, which is even longer? It's what's happening, or not happening, in those three hours that is the issue.
The game needs a pitch clock, and will get one, next season. It'll be interesting to see how it's enforced. Hitters are currently supposed to remain in the batter's box between pitches, and we see how seldom that's enforced.
I have another suggestion, which I've made before: No more mound visits. If you go to the mound, and by "you" I mean the manager, pitching coach, catcher, popcorn vendor, anyone -- then the pitcher is coming out. Mound visits are as excruciating as late-game timeouts in basketball (that's a column for another day).
Kill the mound visits. Keep the game moving.
They won't kill mound visits. Most will say that's too extreme. But they will limit them someday. In the meantime, enjoy the game. It's still a beautiful thing. And after all, what's the rush?
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