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Other Pace-of-Play Ideas: Basketball

May 26, 2015

MLB’s new points-of-emphasis for pace-of-play have shaved, on average, nine minutes off games this year. This space has long been a fan of speeding up play and thinks MLB should not rest on its laurels but should try to take another nine minutes, at least, off games next year.

Without turning the game in its head (one independent league this year, on Sundays, is trying three-ball-walks and K’s for foul balls with two strikes) I think we can easily trim another ten minutes by:

–Forbidding pitching coach visits to the mound (the pitcher doesn’t want to see you; he knows his his command is lacking and doesn’t need you to tell him)

–Limiting catcher-visits to the mound to one-per-pitching-appearance

–Requiring that any pitcher brought into the game face at least one batter (or, more fun, record at least one out)

–Spare us the ritual of intentional walks by simply having the catcher tell the umpire “we’re putting him on” and then having the umpire instruct the batter to take his base

–A replay clock of 45 seconds: if it’s not obvious after 45 seconds of looking at tape, the call stands.

Other sports are looking at pace of play stuff too. Here’s a link to tonight’s beaverball scrimmage rules:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wizards-insider/wp/2015/05/22/brave-new-world-mystics-and-lynx-to-test-analytic-scrimmage-at-verizon-center/

I can’t watch the NBA because, among other things, I don’t like the pace of play. And I don’t watch beaverball because it’s just awful. So not only am I not an expert, I’m not even a fan. But here are a couple of the more intriguing ideas:

ā€” A 20-second shot clock; the shot clock resets to 14 seconds following offensive rebounds.

More possessions is good. I don’t know if their regular clock is 24 or 30, but whatever, 20’s enough. And there’s no need for a full clock on an offensive rebound

ā€” One point automatically granted on all two-point free-throw situations, with one free throw taken for additional point.

I quite like this for a couple reasons. First, it should cut down on the strategy of simply hard-fouling poor shooters. Second, it might shorten the interminable last minute of a game where the team trailing by six-or-so with a low chance of winning repeatedly fouls the in-bounded pass.

No, I won’t tune in, but I will read the reviews. (There’s another scrimmage period where they’re doing something weird: you can only score from inside the paint or outside the 3-point-arc. Not sure how clever that is.)

But the knock-on effect is interesting: if other sports are also looking at changing their rules, maybe baseball can be bold and strive to take another ten or fifteen minutes off games next season.

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