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John Farrell has some ideas on how to speed up the game

May 7, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

Only Nixon could go to China. Only Kirk could make peace with the Klingons. Only the Red Sox could cut down game times.

Well, maybe. At least Red Sox manager John Farrell has some ideas about that, including instituting a clock in between innings when pitchers are warming up and stuff. He shared that thought and some others with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM:

Those in between innings breaks matter, but as Farrell admits, pitchers — including his own Red Sox pitchers — pitch pretty slow. He talks about how to speed these guys up. We’ve not seen any results from this really, but what he has to say makes sense.

  1. nyyankeefanforever - May 7, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Wanna speed up games? How’s about putting a clock on Farrell’s tantrums?

    • mjdkid100 - May 7, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      Interesting choice Yankee fan….

    • sabatimus - May 7, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      Oh come on. The Yankees are a mound-visit festival. Take off the glasses.

    • TheMorningStar - May 7, 2014 at 5:39 PM


  2. jbriggs81 - May 7, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Why not just expand the strike zone? Wouldn’t this speed at bats?

    • cohnjusack - May 7, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      …and obvious lead to much, much less run scoring and vastly increase strikeouts.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - May 7, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        I don’t know.. That may be the case, given the mentality of players to want to work counts and take a lot of pitches. But, many pitches that in MLB are called “balls” are pitches that big league hitters can absolutely hit. I say this because during the winters I usually watch winter league ball in the Dominican Republic. Over there, the strike zone is much bigger, mainly vertically. Instead of leading to more strike outs, it leads to less walks and faster games. Guys don’t go with the mentality of working the count or making the pitcher throw a lot of pitches. If a pitch is coming up high, at a level where most MLB umpires will call it a ball, in the DR, guys will hack at it and try to drive it. This means that most games last a little over 2 hours, and most guys are swinging out of the box, not worrying about laying off borderline pitches, because more likely than not, it will be called a strike. I don’t know how much of this will translate to MLB if we suddenly got a bigger strike zone because of the mentality of hitters in today’s game. MLB used to be the same way years ago. I remember watching games where the high strike was always called, and guys always swung at it.

      • paperlions - May 7, 2014 at 6:04 PM

        Pitcher in the DR and no where near as good as those in MLB. The expansion of the strike zone is already the primary reason for offense being down the last several years, the zone keeps getting bigger and bigger (in MLB, that is mostly down and to the sides, but they are also calling high strikes in the defined zones strikes more often). If you give MLB pitchers a few more inches, that is just going to decrease offense that much more. Again, MLB pitchers are really hard to hit, it is hard enough for a guy to protect the 18″ over the plate now, make it any bigger and it’ll just mean that the portion of the strike zone that represent tough pitches to do anything with will be that much larger…because any expanded part of the zone will represent balls that will be tough to do a lot with for most hitters.

      • roundballsquarebox24 - May 7, 2014 at 8:27 PM

        @paperlions I understand what you’re saying. I’ll start off by saying: Don’t underestimate the pitching talent in places outside of MLB. Dominican Republic has some very good pitching, just look at what their pitching staff did in the WBC, on top of many of the really good pitchers in MLB being Dominican. But, that’s besides the point. I think that the difference is what you said. The strike zone has been expanded down and horizontally(which is debatable, see the career of certain Atlanta Braves pitchers during the 90s).. It is very hard to drive a low ball, or a ball outside. But, a high ball? You can drive that. I have been watching baseball, including MLB for decades, and I remember the days when MLB called the high strike as well. It changes the mentality of the hitter. Guys are up there looking to get a ball to turn on, not looking to get a ball slightly high or slightly off the plate and take it for a ball.. Not saying that the patient approach is bad, but I’m saying that if guys know that that high fastball is going to be a strike, they are swinging at it. They are swinging early. They are putting it in play.

      • chunkala - May 7, 2014 at 8:27 PM

        Paperlions – have you ever perused the baseball rulebook? The high strike is supposed to be the midpoint of the shoulders and belt, do you really see pitches that high up being called strikes? They’re not. The unfair thing to batters is an expansion of the zone to the left and right of the plate. Plus, we’re not seeing scrubs like Richard Hidalgo put up Miguel Cabrera like numbers, which is a huge positive.

        Ways to speed up games: high strike (calling the real strike zone), creating and enforcing a pitch clock (especially on Red Sox pitchers, see Boston Globe report), end of 8 warmup pitches since relievers warm up already before they are announced and no catcher-pitcher visits. There are probably many more avenues we can pursue as well.

    • miedwards - May 8, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      Most umpires already call pitches off the plate strikes. Hence, the strike zone has already been expanded. Any more and hitters would have to swing a 40′ bat just to cover the strike zone.

      They need to enforce the current rule about time between pitches. I know Clay Buchholz is interminably slow. Almost unwatchable sometimes. The old adage is work quickly and throw strikes. That is still the best advice for a pitcher.

  3. cadillacjosh - May 7, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    I really don’t think baseball is too slow. Maybe just my opinion, but I don’t the pacing is bad at all.

    Unless you’re just trying to compete with the NFL, but they have a defensive stop or a touchdown on every play. Baseball will never have that.

    • ahrmon - May 7, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      It gets slower every year man. Games do *not* need to be 3:45.

    • scatterbrian - May 7, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      From that rationale, baseball is the same. Every at-bat is a defensive stop or it drives in 1 to 4 runs.

    • baberuthslegs - May 7, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      Have you ever watched Josh Beckett pitch?

      • miedwards - May 8, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        Or Clay Buchholz or Jonathan Papelbon.

  4. convincedofthehex - May 7, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    It seems the people that complain about the length of the games, whether it be MLB, NBA, NFL or even NASCAR, are for the most part in the media. If I’m paying good to money to go to a game or a race, along with parking, drinks, travel time, (babysitter if you’re in that age group), I don’t care if it goes a little longer, it’s a night out. As for televised games, same thing, I’m enjoying it. MLB has had record attendance and revenue the last few years, doesn’t sound like the length of the game is hurting it.

  5. scoutsaysweitersisabust - May 7, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    They won’t shorten time between innings, because that’s when the expensive commercials air. How about batters get in the box and stay there. How about pitchers throw the ball as soon as they get the sign and not take 30 minutes to decide to throw a fastball? (Which most do 75% of the time anyways.) Also, does a pitcher really need extra pitches to warm up when called into the game? You stopped warming up in the pen, now you are going to take 5 more pitches from the mound? How about managers not call in a new pitcher every single damn batter once the starter is pulled? Match-ups are crap the majority of time and are all about shifting blame from the manager to the player. The game can be sped up, and probably needs to be as 95% of America seems to suffer from internet related ADD these days and NEEDS EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!

    Also, less story and more explosions. Character development is for commies.

    • miedwards - May 8, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      You must love Jason Statham movies.

  6. President Charles Logan - May 7, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    playing 10 less annoying over hyped yankee-redsox games per year will speed things up for sure.

  7. tfbuckfutter - May 7, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Getting your bullpen to stop blowing leads would help speed up Red Sox games anyway.

    • miedwards - May 8, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Couldn’t you say that about every team?

  8. sabatimus - May 7, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    Start calling balls if pitchers step off too much or take too much time, or refuse to grant time out to anyone who abuses the privilege. These are rules already on the books and they never get used anymore.

    I bet the MLBPA would whine about it, but what recourse do they have? It’s in the official rules.

  9. tbird05 - May 7, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Simple solution…DVR.

  10. danaking - May 7, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    Stop granting time out every time a hitter asks for it. Keep him in or near the box, ready to hit.

    Limit catcher’s visits to the mound. A manager can only come to the mound once an inning before they have to make a change. Say catchers can only come to the mound once a batter, or it’s a called ball.

    Let’s start there before we get dramatic. I was at an Orioles doubleheader last week by myself. With no distractions, it’s painfully obvious how much time is wasted with in-inning pitching changes. If push comes to shove, I’d be in favor of limiting those. There’s already a rule that says a pitcher has to dispose of a hitter when brought into a game. Why not say, once announced, he must allow a baserunner if he is to be replaced during an inning? This would eliminate the constant lefty-righty switching back and forth, which might also not be such a bad thing.

  11. gibbyfan - May 7, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    If you want to see a real life example how to speed up a game watch Michael Wacha pitch to a batter that stays in the batters box. It is a thing of beauty.

    • miedwards - May 8, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Or Mark Buerhle. I love the guys that get it and throw it.

  12. billybawl - May 7, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Watch a video of a game from the 1960s or 1970s and it feels like watching a modern game on 2x speed.

    If Mike “The Human Rain Delay” Hargrove played today, we’d be deprived of one awesome nickname.

  13. randomdigits - May 7, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Keep the batters in the box between pitches. Pretty sure sitting there with a bat on your shoulder for 15 seconds doesn’t necessitate stepping out and adjusting your gloves.

    • mazblast - May 7, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      Doesn’t anyone make gloves, jockstraps, or helmets that fit?

  14. mazblast - May 7, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    Call time, step out, wander around, adjust right glove, adjust belt, adjust left glove, adjust jockstrap, re-adjust right glove, tie right shoelace, re-adjust left glove, tie left shoelace, step in, call time, step out, adjust right glove, wander, adjust helmet, adjust left glove, go to on-deck circle, futz around with pine tar, re-adjust right glove, re-adjust left glove, take off helmet, re-adjust, put helmet on, go to dugout for consultation, re-adjust jockstrap, talk to third-base coach…

    In my day, anyone trying 1/10th of these human rain delay things would have been wearing a pitched ball on his hip or under his chin. Managers and their constant pitching changes, seemingly every batter once the 7th inning starts, bear some responsibility, but batters and umpires who enable such behavior are the primary culprits.

    Get in there and bat!

  15. joestemme - May 7, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    Use K-Zone for balls and strikes. No bitching, moaning and complaining.

    Ball. Strike. The end.

    • infieldhit - May 8, 2014 at 1:48 AM

      A robot umpire would speed up the game if they threatened to shoot lollygagging players with eye lasers.

  16. musketmaniac - May 8, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    if anything instant replay has sped things up. sure some of them take longer than they should. but it got rid of the charging manager a minute or two of arguing than following the umpire like WWE tactics were going to change his mind. seems to me that there were more charging and yelling than there are challenges.

  17. chiadam - May 8, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    From the BoSox manager? When was the last Boston NY game that took less than 8 hours?

    • miedwards - May 8, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      That is why he suggested ways to shorten games. Even he realizes they take too long.

  18. dowhatifeellike - May 8, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    The 120 seconds between half-innings is mandated by MLB for commercial breaks. It’s the 30 seconds after that when the pitcher is dicking around that makes it worse.

    Get rid of the archaic bullpen system. Most teams have pitching rubbers and batting cages near the clubhouse. They can warm up in there and avoid grabbing their jacket and jogging 350′ to enter the game. Between the commercial breaks and the warm-up throws and the briefing from the manager, a mid-inning pitching change takes nearly 5 minutes. Stop that.

    Stop throwing out every ball that touched something. They just get rubbed up and sent back anyway. Why modern pitchers think throwing a scuffed ball is a bad thing, I’ll never know.

    If you break a bat, you don’t get to hold up the game while you add pine tar and whisper sweet nothings to a new one. Have 3 or 4 bats ready when the game starts like hockey players do with their sticks.

    I could go on but I need coffee first.

  19. insidefastball - May 8, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    The easiest solution is to open up the strike zone by calling more strikes above the belt, along with pitches on the corners.

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