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updated: 4/8/2014 9:50 PM

Anything to speed up baseball games, please

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Apparently nothing is off-limits during April Fool's month.

An ESPN article by Buster Olney quoted an unnamed baseball executive who suggested that major-league games be reduced to seven innings.

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Preposterous! What was this guy smoking anyway? Does he also want to erase February from the calendar because winter is too cold?

Preposterous, I repeat.

Except that MLB now has replay reviews, so maybe we should take a second look at the seven-inning solution.

The idea is that the move would remedy the problem of games being too long -- more like too slow -- and stressed arms causing a pitching shortage.

Shrieks from baseball traditionalists immediately ridiculed the recommendation. "Moronic" was one of the characterizations.

The primary objection is that shortening games would mean you really could throw out the record books when these two teams -- any two teams -- take the field.

Batters would have fewer chances to hit home runs than Willie Mays had. Pitchers would have fewer chances to strike out batters than Sandy Koufax had.

Yeah, so what?

But, seriously, what's so traditional about interleague play, wild cards qualifying for the postseason and fancy-colored uniforms?

I understand that we want things to stay the same because the good old days always were better. Nobody fears change more than I do. It took 15 minutes for me to turn on this typewriter, uh, make that this computer.

But wasn't the ball dead 100 years ago? Wasn't the mound higher 50 years ago? Wasn't the strike zone from the armpits down to the knees a few years ago?

Another objection to a change this radical is that baseball is a game of 3s and 9s -- three strikes and you're out, nine batters in a batting order, three outs in an inning and, of course, nine innings in a game.

Nowhere of consequence is a seven of consequence.

Good point, except nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, the Ten Commandments or Abner Doubleday's diary does it say that there shouldn't be, can't be or won't be a magnificent seven.

Times change. So have Americans and so can baseball.

The time change is that major-league games are growing longer and longer and more tedious. The people change is that attention spans are growing shorter and shorter and less tolerant.

Younger people especially don't have the patience for baseball, so the game's audience is skewing older bordering on ancient.

Baseball isn't Roller Derby where there's always something happening. A single game suffers more breaks than branches in a windstorm.

This sport has been my favorite all my life, but I can't take enough naps during warm-ups to stay awake for nine innings anymore.

Batting gloves need adjusting after every pitch … the umpires' quota of strike calls is dwindling … catchers visit the mound with nobody on base … managers make more and more pitching changes … now replay reviews sometimes are like rain delays.

The game's administrators have had several decades to reverse the trend of more time and less action. Token gestures were instituted to speed up the rare sport without a clock, but then baseball falls back into allowing the same old dillydally pace.

All that needs to be done is get batters to stay in the box, pitchers to throw the ball and umpires to call a strike a strike.

That alone would cut games down to size of about two hours. Then if TV reverted to a reasonable number and length of commercials, we'd be down to 1 hour, 30 minutes.

My goodness, we could watch nearly an entire game on our lunch break and maybe even our coffee break.

It might be too soon to endorse a seven-inning game, but it's certainly something to think about.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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