Kasper: With growing technology, MLB should make more changes
Major League Baseball is in a time of technological transition, which is presenting some pretty interesting opportunities and challenges.
A couple years ago, MLB instituted expanded video replay review and so far, I'd say it's running fairly well, with a few areas that could easily be tweaked.
We have a working clock now at every ballpark to time mid-inning breaks, pitching changes and visits to the mound. And with the advent of MLB's Statcast, fans can find out everything from launch angles to route efficiency with the click of a button on their smartphones.
I will say upfront that I like the marriage of America's pastime and science. Not everything can be measured, but it is a game that lends itself to data-driven analysis better than any other sport.
The debate points arise when technology impedes where it doesn't belong. Commissioner Rob Manfred insists that pace of game is a big deal and I agree. I receive grief on this from friends inside the game who roll their eyes at anyone who thinks it needs to be addressed.
But the thing is, I love the game no matter what and long games aren't going to drive me away. Same goes for all the insiders who say it's some made-up concern. But the sport wants to grow and to grab kids who have the attention span of the latest YouTube video. If something doesn't "happen" soon, they're tuning out.
Tom Verducci wrote a couple years ago about how little action is occurring these days with all the mound visits and walks and strikeouts and how the most exciting part of the game (theoretically at least) becomes the most laborious -- the final couple innings.
So with all this in mind, here are some simple technological ideas I have on how we can make the greatest sport in the world even better, without adversely affecting the fundamental brilliance of the game itself:
• Limit each team to two replay reviews per game, but one may involve called balls and strikes. We have built-in technology that tells us whether the pitch was a strike or not, like tennis does with line calls. Think about the strategy involved if each manager had one shot at a borderline pitch that doesn't go his way. This addresses, on a limited basis, the one area not currently subject to call reversals.
•Put a two-minute time limit on all replay reviews from the time the umpires put on the headsets. If MLB's replay center can't find something to overturn the original call in that span, the call stands. This seems like an easy thing to do and I'd be surprised if MLB doesn't do something like it soon.
•Tie all mound visits and batter visits to the third base coach to ball/strike penalties. Forget the signs as a hitter? That costs you a strike to go speak to your coach. Need to change the signs with the pitcher if you're a catcher? That's an automatic ball for you to walk to the mound. Same goes for pitching coach and manager visits that don't involve pitching changes. I don't have an issue with on-field conferences, but I have little sympathy for guys who forget their team's signs. In terms of pitching/defensive strategy, I like the idea of players having to think for themselves most of the time. Again, I wouldn't ban visits, I would just make it cost something.
I don't think any of my ideas are outrageous. They would enhance and sharpen the focus on the action and keep the game as current as possible while maintaining its fundamental essence.
• Len Kasper is entering his 12th season as the television play-by-play voice for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter @LenKasper.