You want to improve the pace of play in the majors, then remove the smart off-field people from impacting the action. Notice the word “action.” Overwhelming sentiment is that hitters and pitches are not slowing down the game nearly as much as smart people are by feeding more information to the pitchers and hitters to have to work through while on the field. The catchers are looking more to the dugout for help with each pitch. Catchers, pitchers and middle infielders are meeting more often on the mound to change signs and sequences, worried that more sophisticated theft than ever is ongoing to steal information in real time. Pitching coaches are visiting the mound more to reiterate the strengths/weaknesses of a hitter discussed at length in pregame meetings. A pitch clock can be added, for example, but that will not get to the root of what is slowing pace. Management, the players and the umpires should think of this as boxing. You can do whatever you want to prepare for the fight. You can do whatever you want between rounds. But once the bell rings, the two fighters are on their own. In baseball, do whatever you want to feed information to players in spring training, before the series and in between innings. But once the players are on the field and “action” is underway, mechanisms are needed to make it about the players as much as possible. It is bad enough that front offices have brought free agency to a crawl with a group-think that has dissuaded spending like in the past. But, now more than ever, they are impacting the on-field product. Legislating the in-game influence out of the game will be difficult. But I believe it will be easier than getting the players to uniformly agree to a pitch clock or how quickly they need to get in the batter’s box. Already there is a rule in place that forbids the use of electronics in the dugout. Maybe it has to go further and have the removal of real-time video from the clubhouses and other areas accessible to the dugout. A hitter or pitcher can look at previous action to prepare for an at-bat, but no one is allowed to be watching the game in real time to steal signs, for example. That would dismantle the elaborate relay systems deployed by teams for replays and simply leave it up to managers to decide whether to ask for a challenge a close call or not rather than wait to have their video coordinators go through super slo-mo to aid the decision.
The best way to fix MLB’s pace of play problems
New York Post | Jan 22