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Bullpen carts are the answer to baseball’s pace of play problem

The players’ union wants to bring back the retro fad from the ‘70s to help baseball, and it’s a great idea.

Chicago White Sox Vs. Boston Red Sox At Fenway Park
I’m so excited about this.
Photo by Frank O'Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

There’s been a lot of talk about baseball’s pace of play problem this offseason. Most of the talk stems from baseball writers being thirsty as hell for anything to write about, but it also comes from MLB comissioner Rob Manfred, who honestly thinks baseball’s pace of play needs some fixing. See, people who don’t like baseball often complain that it’s too slow, so Manfred wants to speed things up. The idea is that if there’s a clock that forces pitchers to take less time between pitches, or if they don’t actually take the time to throw physical pitches for an intentional walk or whatever, baseball games might be a few minutes shorter and quid pro quo more baseball fans.

If this sounds dumb as hell, that’s because it is. People don’t complain about baseball being “slow” because of the physical time it takes; they complain about baseball being “slow” because they don’t understand it and therefore don’t find it interesting or exciting to watch. This point should be obvious, but me thinks Manfred is a bit slow himself.

It should come as no surprise by this point that I am against most of MLB’s proposed pace of play rules. I think a pitching clock is stupid and unnecessary, and I think outlawing visits to the mound is stupid and unnecessary. Just imagine living in a world one day where you have to explain to someone why the hell everyone is standing around on the mound talking about wedding presents during a baseball game in Bull Durham. It would make no sense.

Then, yesterday, came this report:

Oh hell yes. I am 169% on board with bringing back bullpen carts!

Bullpen carts, for the unfamiliar, were small motorized vehicles that brought relief pitchers from the bullpen to the mound back in the 1970s. They looked like this:

Former Twins pitcher Glen Perkins — a noted hater of running in all forms — has already been advocating for the return of the bullpen cart for literally years.

According to Mental Floss’s The Rise and Fall of Bullpen Carts, the carts originated at Cleveland’s old stadium, which was built for both football and baseball, and hence, rather large. Because of the size of the place, the bullpen cart was necessary to get relief pitchers to the playing field in a timely fashion. Other teams later copied the idea, introducing their own bullpen carts. Even the stuffy old Yankees had a bullpen cart.

Now, in today’s world of specialized baseball stadiums, would bullpen carts help speed up the pace of baseball games? Absolutely not! Just consider these two options:

  • Option A: The manager signals for a pitching change, and a relief pitcher jogs a few hundred feet from the bullpen to the pitching mound.
  • Option B: The manager signals for a pitching change, and an employee jogs to the garage or wherever the bullpen cart is kept, realizes he forgot the keys, runs back to the dugout to get the keys, finds them, returns to the bullpen cart and starts it up, drives the cart along the warning track to the bullpen (can’t mess up the infield dirt or grass), stops and picks up the pitcher, drives the cart back along the warning track to the infield, deposits the pitcher, and then the pitcher jogs fifty feet to the mound.

Obviously, Option A would be a lot faster, but Option B? Option B would be a lot funner — especially the part where the cart driver forgets the keys. I hope you liked that part.

Bullpen carts would do absolutely nothing to speed up the game, a fact that becomes even more obvious when you realize pitching changes are used for commercial breaks. Even if you’re calling in Usain Bolt to pitch you’re going to have to wait the length of a commercial break to start the game back up.

So if they wouldn’t actually speed anything up, why would bullpen carts be the answer to baseball’s pace of play problem? Because there is no fucking pace of play problem. We already went over this. The problem isn’t that games are three hours and ten minutes long on average instead of just three hours long on average, the problem is that they aren’t interesting enough to those of us with the attention span of Lonnie Smith. MLB should be more focused on making the game fun and interesting to potential fans of all types and knowledge levels than making games shorter, and do you know what is fun and interesting to literally everyone? Bullpen carts.

Just check out this bullpen cart used in Japan:

Everyone in this video looks (and sounds) like they are having the absolute time of their lives! Watching the video, I wasn’t even sure what the bullpen cart was going to do! Is it going to run into the wall? Wait, is it trying to back into the wa — oh, nope, that’s where the garage is. Awesome! I would never get sick of this, and the best part is that you don’t even need to know anything about baseball to love the shit out of this bullpen cart.

So if the players’ union is already on board, what’s the hold up? I say we do it! Let’s make 2018 the year of the return of the bullpen cart! I know Glen Perkins just announced his retirement from baseball, but I’m sure he’d be just as ecstatic over this. Right, Glen?


Bullpen carts?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Bring them back!
    (175 votes)
  • 22%
    This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.
    (53 votes)
  • 4%
    (11 votes)
239 votes total Vote Now