Much has been written about the attempts on the part of Major League Baseball to speed up the pace of play. A countdown clock now looms over the outfield of every ballpark, ticking away the seconds between innings. Pitchers and hitters are also on the clock, as they face fines for wandering around the mound or leaving the batter's box between pitches. No crackdowns on excessive scratching or spitting yet, unless these activities occur during walks around the mound or require leaving the batter's box. Stay tuned.
I would like to make a modest proposal, though, that would speed up the games AND likely increase the number of runs scored--a lack of offense in the post-steroid era being another major concern of MLB. I would like to propose that a manager be allowed a maximum of one pitching change per inning. A starter could be pulled at any time, but, once a reliever is brought in, that reliever MUST finish the inning. If he gets shelled, he gets shelled. This would also get rid of those frankly annoying instances of a manager bringing in a righty to face a right-handed batter, and then pulling that pitcher if the next hitter is a lefty. Obviously, exceptions would have to be made in the case of an injury, but otherwise, this would clearly shave significant minutes off of most games--and/or allow fans to see more runs scored if a fresh arm can't be brought in to bail out someone who just doesn't have it on a given night. And frankly, this would be a better solution than the introduction of timers into a fundamentally timeless sport.