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Suggested Rule Changes--And This Time I'm Serious

There really are a couple rule changes I have pondered over the years, and I'd like to run them up the flag pole to see who salutes, who gives the one-finger salute, and who has other ideas to suggest.

I guess my fantasy is that Bud Selig, while casually googling "sheep + whip cream + orgy" finds that 8 of the top 10 hits lead him to Athletics Nation, whereupon he accidentally discovers this post and is inspired to institute these rule changes in Major League Baseball. I realize the odds of this are only about 10%-15%, but it's worth a shot.

Suggested Rule Change #1: Trips To The Mound

Instead of pitching coaches and/or managers being allowed one trip to the mound each inning before a pitching change must be made, allow two trips to the mound before a pitching change must be made...But include the catcher. Only in baseball can a player trot over to a teammate, in the middle of the action, with unlimited frequency, to hold conferences about what they want to do next. Imagine basketball if the point guard said, "Hang on a sec" after every couple of possessions, and the ref had to stop the game for a quick backcourt huddle about what play to run. Imagine football if huddles were not an integrated part of the running clock and the quarterback could call 12-14 timeouts each quarter to "just make sure everyone is on the same page".

Thinking, acting, and decision-making in "real time" is part of sports, and if the pitcher and catcher aren't sure, or on the same page, about what pitch to call next, or what location, or how to approach the at-bat in general, well...tough. You had your pre-game meeting, you have time when your team is batting, you even have moments while foul balls are landing in the seats to sneak in those conversations. And up to 2 requested trips from all the folks entrusted with guiding and checking in on the pitcher. I think this rule change would speed up the game in a good way.

Suggested Rule Change #2: Four-Pitch Walks

A four-pitch walk is two bases (a runner at first would advance to third, while a runner at second would also advance only to third). This rule would certainly impact how freely teams could issue an intentional walk or the pitch-around equivalent, but it doesn't force you to pitch to a "Bonds in his prime" or to Pujols with a runner at second and two out; you just have to throw one strike. The batter gets one shot and if he takes a strike or fouls it off, then you're back to where you've always been--you don't even have to pretend you might throw another strike.

What about the wild pitcher who just can't avoid the four-pitch walk? Bigger penalty, that's what. You couldn't throw one strike in four tries? Tough. Makes 2-0 and 3-0 counts a little more interesting.

It's a bit radical, but in an era where guys are being intentionally walked to lead-off innings, I think it would be a worthwhile change to create more incentive for a pitcher to offer at least one hitable pitch in a given at-bat.

There's my two cents, for which you clearly overpaid.