Mound visits? Eliminate them

For some reason one of baseball’s more annoying habits struck a deeper nerve Tuesday afternoon.

The Red Sox hosted the Rangers on a drizzly, dank day at Fenway Park – at least that is how it looked on TV. The broadcast crew verified as much. When thinking about speeding up the pace of games, such ugly days should immediately appear in MLB’s mind.

The customers are paying way too much for their tickets to swallow them because of poor weather, at least for anything short of a category 5 hurricane.

So during one of the Red Sox’ allotment of five mound visits, manager Alex Cora trudged to the mound to lift starter Brennan Bernardino.

Pardon the error; that should read opener Brennan Bernardino. Lord, they have formally codified the game’s first pitcher as one of a possible three, or four, or even five. But let’s not clutter today’s complaint with another.

As Cora reached the mound, he and Bernardino, and catcher Connor Wong, began talking into their gloves. One can never be too careful out there, lest a lip reader in the opposition dugout can lip-read “Throw strikes,” or “Be careful with this guy,” or “Go get ‘em next time, kid.”

Cora, Bernardino and Wong are joined by the entire infield. That is the annoying habit in question.

Two men talking into their gloves is one thing. The manager or pitching coach talking into their palm is another. But calling in four more guys to hang out, occasionally contributing a tidbit of glove-talk wisdom, takes it to another level.

Sometimes outfielders will actually join the conference, as if the right fielder might offer an insight worthy of hiding from lip readers.

Before games pitchers and catchers are called into a meeting to discuss how hitters might best be treated. During games they now carry digital doo-dads that can be used to call pitchers with so much as a lip quiver.

Clearly, strategically speaking, the only constructive reason for mound visits is to give a relief pitcher or two a bit more time to prepare themselves for coming into the game.

Baseball has correctly decided that quickening the pace of games is important. They have gone to what some pitchers, managers and coaches consider the tyranny of pitch clocks. They are forcing batters to get in the batters box and stay there.

Want to lop another 10 minutes off game times?

Tell managers and pitching coaches to chat between innings and use their digital doo-dads during play.

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