Tags: mlb | pace-of-play | baseball | rules

MLB's Pace-of-Play Rules Can't Come Soon Enough

MLB's Pace-of-Play Rules Can't Come Soon Enough

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Godley talks with catcher John Ryan Murphy on the mound during a game. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 20 February 2018 07:02 AM

The MLB's new pace-of-play rules for the 2018 baseball season can't come soon enough for fans who have endured longer and longer game times. Some worry that plodding games are turning off younger fans whose eyeballs are the future of America's pastime.

To shorten games, Major League Baseball will be trying to control mound visits and breaks between innings, the amount of time for pitching changes, and time spent for instant replays, Sports Illustrated reported.

Those non-action activities and other factors have increased the average length of baseball games to three hours, five minutes, and 11 seconds in 2016, and then even more than four minutes longer last season.

In the postseason last year before the World Series, the game stretched to a whopping three hours and 31 minutes, which was six minutes longer than the 2016 postseason and 17 minutes longer than the one before, USA Today reported.

Other changes were resisted by the MLB Players Association as if they were hourly employees. The union rejected several pace-of-play proposals, according to Sports Illustrated, including installing a 20-second pitch clock and raising the bottom of strike zone to the top of the kneecap.

While MLB has had time limits between innings since 2016 – from 2:05 for locally televised games to 2:55 in the post season – umpires will be more strict, calling for the final pitch at the 25 second mark with the first batter taking the first pitch of the inning within zero to five seconds.

Teams will have the same clock running during pitching changes, starting when the relief pitcher crosses the warning track. Mounds visits will be limited to six per nine-inning game and tweaks have been made to video replay breaks to speed up that process, per MLB.

The approved pace-of-play rule changes did not come with a ringing endorsement from MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark.

"Players were involved in the pace of game discussion from Day 1, and are committed to playing a crisp and exciting brand of baseball for the fans, but they remain concerned about rule changes that could alter the outcome of games and the fabric of the game itself – now or in the future," Clark said.

"I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the Players Association to take concrete steps to address pace of play with the cooperation of players," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions."

For some like New York Post writer Ken Davidoff, the new changes were greeted with more of a seventh inning yawn.

"Baseball's pace-of-play endeavor has miles to go before it sleeps, and before its current product stops putting young fans to sleep," he wrote. "Yet Monday marked a day of progress and optimism about both speeding up the game and the players and owners working in tandem, if not quite signing 'Kumbaya My Lord' together."

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The MLB's new pace-of-play rules for the 2018 baseball season can't come soon enough for fans who have endured longer and longer game times. Some worry that plodding games are turning off younger fans whose eyeballs are the future of America's pastime.
mlb, pace-of-play, baseball, rules
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2018-02-20
Tuesday, 20 February 2018 07:02 AM
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