This takes serious balls

Now and then, someone complains that baseball games go on too long. Well, yeah, I suppose, if they go 17 innings, one might get a little antsy. But little tweaks like this will not help:

Ordinarily, a pitcher’s job is to keep runners off the bases. But every now and again there is a strategic reason to put one on. Perhaps it will make a double play easier and end the inning more quickly. Perhaps the current batter spent his last two at-bats sending baseballs into geosynchronous orbit but the next one can’t hit the ground with his hat. There are other reasons, so the manager will tell the pitcher to throw four pitches outside of the strike zone. These are generally waaaaaay outside of the zone. The catcher will stand up and take two or three steps away from the plate to ensure even the wildest of lunges by the hitter won’t connect.

So, someone on the competition committee suggested, maybe we should just let the pitcher indicate he intends to intentionally walk a batter and not throw the pitches. It might save time.

Not bloody likely. The only time there’s likely to be much of a delay between each of those deliberately missed pitches is when the pitcher is also having to keep the guy on first (or perhaps some other base) from trying to steal. The only reason I can think of to enact something this preposterous is to be able to proclaim, “See, there is something dumber than the designated-hitter rule!”

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5 comments »

  1. Roger Green »

    25 May 2016 · 5:49 am

    From the Wikipedia: In the history of Major League Baseball, six players have been issued intentional walks with the bases loaded (thus giving the batting team an automatic run). This is only done in the rarest of cases, typically when the pitching team is leading by four runs or less late in the game and a particularly feared hitter is at the plate. The six players given such passes are Abner Dalrymple (1881), Nap Lajoie (1901), Del Bissonette (1928), Bill Nicholson (1944), Barry Bonds (1998), and Josh Hamilton (2008). In all six cases, the pitching team went on to win the game.

  2. McG »

    25 May 2016 · 6:12 am

    Some would say there’s an intentional walk in the works for this November.

  3. John Salmon »

    26 May 2016 · 5:52 pm

    Comes under the “Look, we’re speeding up the game!” heading. MLB is very happy to have fans available for three hours of commercial watching (or beer-swizzling, if at the park) rather than the 2 1/2 hours of a few years back. I haven’t looked it up lately, but of the major US sports, probably only basketball games run closer to two hours than three, on average.

  4. John Salmon »

    26 May 2016 · 5:56 pm

    Make that “swilling”…

  5. CGHill »

    26 May 2016 · 8:02 pm

    I was ready to explain the NBA’s timeout policy, and discovered that I don’t comprehend it at all.

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