Sarah's Take: How else can baseball speed up?

Anticipated intentional walk rule just one way to make game's pace faster

Sarah's Take: How else can baseball speed up?

Last week, Major League Baseball introduced an anticipated intentional walk rule in hopes of speeding up the game.

Since I have become a baseball fan, the average length of a baseball game has increased. Although part of the beauty of baseball is having no clock, it needs to be fast-paced to keep some people's interest -- especially when most games begin at 7 p.m. and people must go to either work or school the next day.

When I began watching baseball almost 40 years ago, many pitchers hurled complete games. However, now almost no one pitches a complete game in hopes of lessening arm injuries. Normally, a starter pitches six innings -- if he is having a good outing. The first six innings of a game go fast unless the starter struggles, but the last three innings can drag when there are multiple pitching changes.

Relievers have specific roles that lead to more pitching changes. Baseball shouldn't limit the pitching changes, but it can make them faster.

Why does a manager or pitching coach need to saunter out to the mound to remove a tired pitcher? He could wave a flag to the umpire saying he wants to make a pitching change. He could use the phone to the bullpen to tell them which pitcher he wants. This would work unless the pitcher is injured.

A reliever doesn't need eight warmup pitches on the mound unless he is starting an inning. This was designed to give the pitcher time to get acclimated to the mound. However, five throws should suffice.

The Major Leagues have many pitchers who nibble at the strike zone instead of attacking it. Unless he has runners on base, a pitcher should be allowed only three balls to walk a batter. Unless a pitcher asks for a timeout, he can't leave the rubber.

When a runner is on first base, there should be a limit on the number of throws to first base. This will quicken the game considerably and increase the number of stolen bases, increasing the exciting offense. Not many people like to watch pitching duels day after day after day. After baseball began testing for performance-enhancing drugs, the offensive production has decreased. This has decreased its popularity among the casual fan. Most people like watching stolen bases, so it will increase people's interest in the sport.

The hitters should be allowed only two timeouts during an at-bat, unless he can show the umpire that he has something in his eye. If the manager wants to pinch-hit for someone, it is fine, but the original pinch-hitter must face the pitcher regardless if the manager has changed him. This will eliminate the manager switching pinch-hitters since he wants a different-handed hitter to face the new pitcher.

Having fast-paced games will help to improve the quality of play. Defense will be better with fast games because fielders will be on their toes. Although casual fans don't pay much attention to defense, everyone likes to watch great plays. Plus, errors slow down the game a lot.

The quest for a faster-paced game isn't always popular with baseball purists, but it should make the national pastime more enjoyable and better. To help baseball remain popular, it needs to evolve with our society.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.