Make Baseball More Like Soccer

From time to time I like to expound on ways to improve the former National Pastime (baseball has been replaced in that role, either by football or by ranting on social media) because while I may be an Old who dislikes change in things I used to enjoy, I do believe that the way to improve baseball is to move forward, not try to go back.

Alex Cora changing pitchers

Today’s game suffers from an incredibly slow pace of game with far too much in the way of Three True Outcomes ball (walks, strikeouts, and homers). These combine to create a plethora of boring, four-plus hour games, especially in the postseason, when managers routinely empty their bullpens in almost every game.

There are many proposed solutions. Most obviously, baseball really should implement a pitch clock. That eliminates a lot of the standing around between pitches, which would have an immediate impact.

But there are other factors that add to the length of games, especially when managers go to their bullpens over and over.

As I’ve done before, looking to the Rest Of The World’s Pastime (soccer) can provide a possible solution. Baseball, like soccer, should limit the number of substitutions.

You could limit the limit to pitchers and allow a team to make at most 3 (or 4, or whatever) pitching changes in a game. Alternatively, you could include all swaps: pinch hitters, fielding changes, etc… . You’d have to allow additional swaps in extra innings, maybe one more every two innings.

Limiting subs would speed up the game and open up a world of new strategic possibilities. And make Shohei Ohtani even more valuable, and encourage teams to develop more two-way players so they can bring in a new pitcher without using a sub.

And limiting substitutions would eliminate 4 hour monstrosities like Game 1 of the recent Astros/Red Sox ALCS where each team used 8 pitchers in an 8 1/2 inning game.

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