Christy Mathewson, the Christian Gentleman, would approve of these proposals

For years now baseball fans have been complaining, and with good reason, about the ever-slackening pace of the game. Games that once took less than two hours now routinely take more than three, despite various half-hearted efforts by the high pooh-bahs of the game to address the problem.

With a new season soon to begin, I shall now fix baseball.

1) Once the pitcher receives the ball from the catcher or umpire, he will have twenty seconds to release his next pitch. The more languorous pitchers will hate this, of course, and will feel that they’re being rushed to the point of exhaustion; but since the best pitchers tend to work fast, the rule may well improve the quality of pitching overall.

2) Batters can’t step out of the box. No more “human rain delays”, no more watching the Nomar Garciaparras of the world endlessly fiddling with their equipment, no more watching batters stick their back arm out to call time just when the pitcher is about to go into his windup. Get in there and get ready to hit, son. If a bug flies into your eye, back away fast so you don’t get beaned by a heater.

3) Baserunners will no longer get to call time out in order to brush dirt from their pants and make sure they look all pretty before the next pitch. They have plenty of time to do that between pitches, and even if not, this is not a problem and therefore does not need a solution. You can run with dirt in your drawers if need be.

4) The baseball will only be replaced when it’s hit into the stands or suffers some clear visible damage. If a pitcher is sufficiently intelligent to get some funky motion from a little scuff mark, more power to him. (If it was good enough for Walter Johnson it’s good enough for modern big-leaguers.) But with only twenty seconds between pitches he won’t have much time to think. Nor can the pitcher return a ball because he doesn’t like the height of the stitches. Do the best you can with what the ump gives you.

5) The balk rule shall be eliminated. Nobody really understands it, and its elimination will generate some interesting attempts at baserunner-deception by pitchers.

6) Pitchers will be allowed to throw to a base to hold runners on only once per at-bat. Use your one chance wisely, hurlers.

There. That should do it.