Does baseball need a set number of time outs?

Associated Press
21 Comments

Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage which states that “any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered in the negative.” I think I’ve broken that one once or twice, but this one is straight up Betteridgeville, baby. And I ask it here because someone else posited it there.

Where? Here, in Joel Sherman’s story in the New York Post today. He says that a good way to speed up the pace of play in baseball is to limit the number of time outs. Time outs referring to mound visits, pitching coach visits, batters walking down closer to the third base coach and the like. Which no one counts now but which Sherman thinks should be limited to five. The column speaks for itself, but mostly speaks to a litany of complaints about slow pace of play, how catchers and pitchers should have their signs worked out ahead of time and about how managers and coaches should time their calls to the bullpen better and the like.

I appreciate the desire to see a faster pace of play. Mound meetings are boring. But the last thing baseball needs is yet another hard and fast rule designed to address a question of judgment. A rule, like every other rule, which would lead to unexpected effects and the imposition of gamesmanship and a level of strategizing heretofore unknown in the game. You think watching coaches manage timeouts in football is a drag, just wait until you see baseball managers doing it. And wait until some analytics department figures out a way to use them to their advantage and another layer of, well, stuff is slathered over a game.

Baseball can get slow sometimes. But it doesn’t have a clock. Let’s keep it that way. Let’s maybe, for a few short moments, actually enjoy the game we have, warts and all, rather than spend all spring trying to fix small problems with big, obtrusive solutions.