In the wake of the news about commissioner Bud Selig's "special committee," Thomas Boswell's got a number of suggestions -- 10 of them, in fact. Let's go through each of them (and I'll paraphrase for brevity's sake), with my comments in italics ...
* Ban mound visits by managers and coaches.
Definitely worth considering. Nobody pays their money to watch middle-aged men waddling to the mound for rote, usually pointless conversations.
* Enforce a time-limit on mid-inning pitching changes.
* No more "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.
Easiest fix of all. One ode to patriotism per game is plenty, especially now that we're eight years removed from 9/11.
* Give the hitter his intentional walk without having to actually throw four balls.
I would just as soon eliminate the intentional walk entirely, but if we have to have them, let's at least save a bit of time.
* Require every relief pitcher to face at least two hitters.
Yes, it seems sacrilegious. So was the designated hitter, and we've come to accept that (well, most of us have, anyway).
* Don't award home field in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star Game.
Sorry, but I don't see the problem here. Home field is a small thing, competition-wise, but really does make the All-Star Game more interesting.
* No more World Series games in November. Don't delay the beginning of the season to accommodate the World Baseball Classic, build fewer off days into the postseason (the way it used to be), and schedule the occasional split doubleheader.
Yes, yes, and yes one more time. Oh, I don't mind starting the season a week late. I enjoy the WBC as much as the next guy. But if they're going to take away a week in April, they simply have to compensate somehow.
* Expand the use of video review, at least in the postseason.
Obviously. There simply isn't any justification for the continuing presence of manifest mistakes by the umpires on the sport's biggest stage.
Boswell's big finish:
- With its new committee and Selig's wide "best interests of the game" powers, the sport can take a broad and deep look at itself. Other constituencies, especially the union, will have their proper say in time. But for the first time in baseball, a group of the most respected people in the sport is looking squarely at the game's biggest problems. And they have the commissioner behind them.
Well, we'll see about that. My gut tells me that all those respected people will have a real tough time coming to any sort of consensus on most of the issues. And, of course, coming to some sort of consensus is just the first step. Then you have to consider the commissioner, and then he has to convince most of the owners, and then everyone has to convince the players.
But it's harder than that, even. It's one thing to convince the players; it's quite another to convince them to agree to do something. That falls under the heading of "everything's a negotiation," regardless of how much everyone might agree about it.
So, we'll see. Boswell would like to see sweeping changes. So would I. But we should probably be thrilled with a few baby steps.