MLB games are too long and slow-paced.
This has been trending for quite a number of years, as you can see here (through 2021):
In a news conference prior to Tuesday’s All-Star Game, MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark indicated that the sport is likely going to do something about that:
Tony Clark on potential rule changes being discussed on competition committee, which includes players: "Pitch clock, bases and shift are the focal point for the consideration for 2023... Remains to be seen what comes out of that discussion." Clark thinks next 40 days will be key.— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) July 19, 2022
A pitch clock was instituted across the minor leagues in 2022, and I wrote about that a couple of times earlier this year, most recently in May. It’s been a rousing success. In that piece I quoted from this Baseball America article by J.J. Cooper:
Since the new pitch clock rules were adopted on April 15, the average MiLB nine-inning game has taken 2:35 to play. In the two weeks of the season without pitch clock rules, nine-inning games were lasting 2:59 on average. In 2021, the average nine-inning MiLB game without these pitch clock rules took 3:00 to play. That’s a 13.4% reduction in the time of game.
In comparison, the average MLB nine-inning game is taking 3:05 to play this year.
The average MLB nine-inning game time has dropped a bit since then, to 3:02, but that’s still too long. As you can see by the chart, the last time nine-inning MLB games averaged 2:35 was in the early 1980s.
Since many pitchers have become used to the clock in minor-league games, this hopefully won’t be too much of an adjustment when they bring it to MLB. Per the quote from Clark, this isn’t a done deal yet, but every indication is that it’s going to happen.
What can’t happen is what White Sox closer Liam Hendriks said in this Tribune article:
“Every time you change something, it’s going to look slightly different,” Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks told the Tribune before Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. “I dealt with the pitch clocks in the minor leagues. I think it’s something you can implement but not necessarily enforce.
Uh... no, Liam, just no. The only way the clock is going to work is if it’s enforced. Otherwise slow-working pitchers like the Cubs’ Marcus Stroman will just ignore it.
One thing that slows the game down is pitchers standing on the mound, taking deep breaths, making their stretch movements very slowly, etc. The reason they do this is the emphasis on “executing” every pitch so that it’s perfect. With a pitch clock, they’re not going to be able to do this. What this might accomplish is taking a couple miles per hour off every pitch — which would help increase offense.
Bring it on.
About the other two things mentioned in the quote from Clark, the larger bases are intended for two purposes: First, to help avoid collisions at bases and second, to help increase stolen bases. I’m okay with either or both of those.
This is potentially a much more significant change to the game of baseball than anything else being considered. Still, I’m okay with them trying it.
Starting July 22, in the rule-change lab known as the Florida State League, chalk lines will appear in the infield dirt behind second base, sources tell The Athletic. Those lines will be shaped like a slice of pie. Not to make everybody run for the concession stands. For a much more nourishing purpose:
To bring back a once-beloved, but fast-fading, relic of baseball’s past: The good old single up the middle.
Here’s what they’re talking about, from the article in The Athletic:
I’m all in favor of making some sort of adjustment to defensive shifting. I’m tired of seeing — as we saw during the Cubs/Mets series last weekend — the shortstop playing third base, the second baseman playing shortstop and the third baseman playing right field. And even at that, several Mets hitters poked hits the opposite way.
Tony Clark mentioned the competition committee, and here’s who’s on it:
Players: Whit Merrifield (Royals), Jack Flaherty (Cardinals), Tyler Glasnow (Rays), Austin Slater (Giants). Alternates: Walker Buehler (Dodgers), Ian Happ (Cubs).
Umpire: Bill Miller.
Executives: Bill DeWitt Jr. (Cardinals), Mark Shapiro (Blue Jays), John Stanton (Mariners), Tom Werner (Red Sox), Dick Monfort (Rockies), Charles Johnson (Giants).
It’s clear to me that some parts of baseball are broken, and they’re trying to be proactive and fix them. Baseball rules aren’t some immutable thing sent down from the heavens centuries ago. The game has always evolved to meet changing conditions. The issues these proposed rule changes are attempting to address have been happening for quite a number of years.
I know I’ll enjoy faster-paced games. You will too, I think.
A pitch clock in MLB games...
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Larger bases in MLB games...
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