Last August, author Paul Auster — also a big baseball fan — wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times with a radical idea about how to speed up baseball games:
Eliminate the two-strike foul ball as a neutral play (neither strike nor ball) and rule it a strike. To compensate for the advantage this would give the pitcher, allow the batter to go to first base after three balls instead of four.
Kind of crazy if you ask me, as it would dramatically increase the number of strikeouts and walks, decreasing the number of balls-in-play. And in my view the lack of balls in play is a bigger problem than the length of games. Doing this wouldn’t just speed up baseball, it would render it unrecognizable and, well, crappy.
But at least a couple of teams think it might be fun to see how this works. Thankfully they’re in the independent Atlantic League. It’s the Bridgeport Bluefish and the Long Island Ducks, and in August they’re going to experiment with these very rules.
Call it the “Game of Illusions” or something. I dunno. I do know that a particular Bluefish fan and friend of HardballTalk doesn’t much care for the idea. Of course this wouldn’t even be near the worst thing that ever happened in a Bluefish-Ducks game, so I’m not gonna get too worked up about it.