The MLB’s Attempt to Speed Up the Games

Angel_Stadium_of_AnaheimMajor League Baseball is in the process of trying to implement new rules that will hopefully speed up the game. The new rules seem necessary and subtle, but could have a very serious impact on the game. In total, there are six rules that have been proposed to increase the pace of the game because the total time for a baseball game has been increasing by about four minutes a year for the last three years. The biggest impact of these new rules is the fact that baseball has always been a game that moves at its own pace with no clock telling how long a game could go. Now, there are propositions to post clocks on each dugout that keep track of time between pitches, innings, and pitching changes. Again, someone not completely familiar with the game might think, “So what? What’s the big deal?” In reality, this would be another step in revolutionarily changing the game of baseball.

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The Human Rain Delay (Steve Trachsel) has wasted many hours for spectators by taking his sweet time between pitches

In a New Republic article entitled, “NFL Rules Changes: When Is Football No Longer Football?”, Marc Tracy brings up major rule changes that the NFL has issued over the past couple years such as the fact that running backs can no longer lower their helmets to break tackles from oncoming defenders. He thinks about how the game is evolving and changing over the years, but is it still the same with these new rules. This is an interesting concept to contemplate about professional baseball as well. Pitchers are being forced to change the way that they play the game even though they have been doing it this way for so many years. Also, hitters are forced to keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times, which changes up post-pitch rituals for the very superstitious players. I think this is an extremely necessary change and I am the MLB is attempting to eradicate unnecessary stoppages in the game in an attempt to speed up the average game time of 3 hours and 8 minutes. For example, Steve Trachsel, a former pitcher in the MLB who played from 1993-2008 obtained the nickname, “The Human Rain Delay” because he took so long between pitches. With TV ratings on the decline and waning interest in the game, I think these rules are a great step in a positive direction in order to get people interested in watching professional baseball again.

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Even the beloved Derek Jeter has been known for being the modern Human Rain Delay. His post-pitch rituals waste nearly thirty seconds every pitch. Here’s an example.

Baseball purists have already addressed their backlash for these new rules and they may not even get implemented for this upcoming season (they’re currently being tested in an Arizona fall league). Baseball is notorious for having the most traditional roots and being the most resistant to change. I think this is why it is slowly falling behind other sports because football, hockey, and basketball go through constant rule changes while the biggest thing that has happened to baseball recently is instant replay and that took years before it was finally instituted. For some reason, there is this idea that baseball has never been timed before, so adding a play clock to the game ruins the integrity of the sport as well as the tradition of the game. If these baseball purists who claim to be fans of the game actually want what is best for the game they will help these rules get implemented into to the league to increase viewer ratings and pace of the game to keep it more interesting for spectators.

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One comment

  1. acfalk2 · November 13, 2014

    This is a very insightful piece. You make great points about why the rule changes would be important, and also give valid examples of changes in the NFL and the NHL. The changing of the rules for baseball has to do with speeding up the game to aid the ratings and increase the spectators. The changing of the rules for football has to do with protecting the players and their health. Changing football might make it less like the game of football, but it is only in the best interest of the players, where as speeding up baseball is in the best interest of the fans, and can potentially harm the players. Many baseball players have specific routines before going up to bat or before they throw a pitch in order to get themselves mentally focused, and to imagine their game plan. By trying to speed up the game the play could become very sloppy, and more errors are likely to be made in the field and at the plate. Baseball is America’s pastime because of how pure it has been throughout all the years. By adding the clock it will shift the focus from the players and their skills, to their ability to follow rules and perform within the time limits. I truly think this will have a negative effect on the game. It is sad to think that the media and T.V. ratings have so much influence on the game today. A big question that this blog makes me wonder about is because there are so many traditional fans how will the economy surrounding baseball be effected?

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