I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even notice the pace-of-play rules MLB instituted last season. They obviously made an impact though, as six minutes (Doug E. Fresh and you’re on) were shaved off of the time of the average MLB game. Yes, you read that right: the length of a game in the 2015 season was only 2:56 after running an interminable 3:02 the previous year. Mind…blown.
Of course, as anyone who’s had to deal with new rules knows, the adherence to them has a tendency to loosen up a bit over time. As such, the final time was a function of a first-half length of 2:53 and a post-ASG time of 2:59. Whether it was that latter figure, or just the desire to generate even greater appeal when it comes to those darn millennials.
To that end, the league and the players union is working on some measures to further pick up the pace and cut down game times. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, two specific tweaks are being discussed:
1. In an attempt to remove the slow walk to the mound or the stalling tactics once there, managers will be requested to make in-game pitching changes more quickly, with the possibility of having a time limit for making the decision to call for a reliever.
2. Twenty seconds would be sliced off the between-inning clock, first used last year, in non-nationally televised games. The commercial breaks in such games are 2:05. Last year, the clock was set at 2:25 at the end of a half-inning, with the idea the hitter would get in the box with 20 seconds remaining on the clock and the pitcher would deliver by zero.
So that’s something, I guess. Then again, the first point looks pretty amorphous and completely subjective, particularly when we’ve already got plenty of issues with ump shows already. The second item is at least quantifiable and could make an impact, but seems kind of negligible to me. More important the the changes themselves, however, is what they they represent.
By that I mean the seriousness with which baseball is handling the matter of pace of play. The fact that these rules were enacted, enforced (though perhaps to varying degrees), and then reiterated and perhaps tightened further indicates that this will continue to be a real point of emphasis moving forward. It’s almost as though they didn’t think just getting Tony La Russa out of the dugout was enough.
As I said at the beginning, I didn’t really notice the pace rules last season and I’m not likely to this season either. Unless, that is, I’m in the bathroom line at the ballpark between innings. But hey, that’s why they make the Stadium Pal, amirite?