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MLB Considering More Pace Of Play Rules

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Games picked up the pace in 2015. MLB wants them to pick up even more.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Before I get into the gist of changes Major League Baseball wants to make to the pace-of-play rules, let's get the reasons for having these rules in the first place out of the way:

MLB's intent is not to shorten games. They want to cut down on the downtime within games. Less standing around, basically.
And on that, they succeeded, or at least made a good start. The linked article above notes that the average game time dropped from 3:02 in 2014 to 2:56 in 2015. You might have noticed that many Cubs games early in 2015 were quite quick. They played 22 games in 2:45 or less before the 2015 All-Star break, compared to 15 such games in the same time frame in 2014. But as the season went on and games became more important, Cubs games got longer. Only 11 Cubs games in 2015 after the ASB were finished in 2:45 or shorter.

Anyway, here are the two major changes MLB is contemplating:

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.

The second is quite significant, if they do in fact do this. Twenty seconds per half-inning adds up to six minutes per game. Interestingly enough, two minutes (or so) has been about the time of an inning break for many years. While the actual commercial time back in the 1960s or 1970s was less than it is now -- only a minute's worth of ads -- the actual time between the final out of an inning being recorded and the first pitch of the next inning was a little over two minutes, same as it is now.

If MLB is really serious about reducing the inning break to 2:05 and having batters and pitchers ready to go at that time, that could make games feel faster-paced.

The idea of eliminating the "stall" that managers often go through when coming out to replace a pitcher is a good one, too. You've seen it many times: the slow trudge to the mound, the stall until the umpire comes out and asks for things to be moved along, at which time the manager then either makes the slow trudge back to the dugout, or signals for a pitching change.

I wouldn't mind a time limit on those sorts of things, especially given the large number of mid-inning pitching changes made in modern baseball.

Games in general felt faster-paced last year, and that's a good thing. I hope they can pick up the pace a bit more in 2016.