As you probably know, a new rule in baseball requires that a pitcher and hitter take no more than 15 seconds between pitches. A few more seconds are allowed if there is a runner on base or if there is a new hitter coming to the plate. The goal is to speed up the game. And, indeed, pitchers are getting a workout to be ready to send a ball to the plate so frequently.
This clock requiring a quick turn-around made me think of some other uses. It could help whip the rest of us in shape to ‘get on with it’ in good order. Laggards in the ballpark can have a penalty of a ball or strike added to the count, depending on whether they are a pitcher or hitter. In lieu of a “ball!” called on the rest of us, we might learn to live with a marine horn that sounds when we’ve drifted over our allotted time.
Some possible applications:
- Aches and pains are always good for comment from those of us who’ve been around a while. But the “organ concert” that results can get mighty tedious. A limit of 20 seconds seems like enough time to recite a recent medical calamity.
- I have a friend who likes to tell long stories that we’ve all heard before. We could give these jokes numbers to save time. Or there could be a limit of 20 seconds to get to the end of what we already know.
- We have all encountered speakers who pause excessively between words or thoughts. The comics Bob and Ray had a classic illustration of it in their radio bit entitled “Slow Talkers of America.” As a variation, some of us use “silence fillers” before meandering on to an additional thought. This can make us all sound like our brain has hit a molasses patch. The clock and horn might help move things along.
- Phone solicitations are never fun. If you get dragged into one, it would be nice to point out that they, too, are on the clock. There would be no time for lengthy verbal fogs that try to conceal their sales intent.
- Helpful servers in some restaurants are required to recite all the specials of the day. The fussier the establishment, the longer the list. This tableside oration needs to be done in 20 seconds or less.
- I have colleagues in education who like to lecture. I do too. But we are given way too much class time by our institution: about 80 minutes. Most lectures would be more focused if the time were cut in half. And all should be required to come with a preview of no more than 20 seconds. If a person can’t pull that off, the rambling lecture that follows probably has no central theme.
- Unfortunately, vacation pictures don’t fade like they did in the last century. We collect them in abundance on our phones. 15 seconds per shot would be generous. A picture with a story to go with it might get 20.
- Dinner parties are still a thing with my generation. The food is always good, but a wooden chair can get mighty uncomfortable after two hours. Changing places every 20 seconds would be fun to try, but probably result in quite a mess to clean up. Even if the pitch clock is probably too short to be of much use, it is clear that a long evening assigned to the same broken chair should not run longer than a baseball game.