Every year Major League Baseball makes moves to try to speed up the the game. A lot of times it’s successful and even more often it’s ignored and then is only a distant memory. This season will be no different.
The Commish’s office and the Players Association worked together to come up with new initiatives to keep ratings up and Rob Manfred happy.
Here’s a TL;DR version of the new rules:
- 6 mound visits, per team, per nine innings
- Inning Break Timer: 2:05 for local games, 2:25 for nationally televised games, 2:55 for Postseason/tiebreaker games
- Pitching Change Clock: same as above
- Instant Replay: club video review rooms will now have slow-motion video available to them; monitored direct phone lines to dugout (also to prevent sign stealing).
Manfred has also opted to not use a pitch timer and a between-batter timer because he wants to “provide players with an opportunity to speed up the game without the use of those timers,” he said in a statement. I act like this sometimes when I want my fiance to go out for sushi except I don’t say it directly but instead expect him to read my mind.
It seems to always be about pace of play. The concerns seem to be catered towards fans and not players, which explains why the Players Union didn’t agree to the changes, but just agreed to not oppose them. Again, that sounds like something I do when I’m feeling passive aggressive.
If someone does not watch baseball already, shortening the game by a few precious minutes is not going to make anyone suddenly tune into a game on TV. Baseball has its fans. They’re passionate and loyal. They will tune in to watch their team no matter how much time is allotted between innings or how many mound visits there are. If someone is complaining that a game is too long, chances are they aren’t watching. If you’re worried about bored fans in the stadium – don’t. They have the freedom to leave whenever they please and are surrounded by at least enough food and alcohol for up to three hours.
Maybe I’m cynical, but I truly don’t believe these initiatives they come up with every year will do anything for TV ratings. It effects players most. Pitchers won’t have adequate warm up time between innings. Keep in mind that the inning break clock starts at the 3rd out, so once a centerfielder makes the last out at the wall, they have about 2 minutes to run in, change over and lead off. Okay maybe that’s a really specific example but it’s going to happen. Either way, that’s not my point. My point is MLB is desperately trying to shave seconds off of every aspect of a game yet they’ll let us watch umpires listen to headphones for a full two minutes while they review a call. I do enjoy these minutes, if I’m being honest.