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  • Baseball players aren't used to watching clocks.

  • But that changes this season. Major League ballparks have installed timers for the commercial

  • breaks between innings, requiring players to resume the game as soon as those clocks

  • hit zero. It's one of the small steps the league is

  • taking to speed up the pace of play after average game times hit a record high in 2014

  • -  3 hours and 8 minutes. It would be one thing if those 3 hour games

  • were action-packed, but actually both hits and runs per game are down in recent years.

  • So what's going on?

  • It's like watching Lord of the Rings 160 times in 6 months or something.

  • Every night you've got Lawrence of Arabia.

  • This is Grant, he watches baseball sometimes. I watch probably about 200 baseball games

  • a year.    He says there's no one thing slowing down

  • the pace of play. But part of it is that the some of the players are kind of dawdling.

  • The time between pitches has gone up. Last season pitchers took an average of 23

  • seconds between pitches. There's actually a rule on the books that

  • the pitcher has to throw the ball within 12 seconds if the bases are unoccupied. But it

  • hasn't been enforced. Just limiting pitchers to 20 seconds would

  • cut around 15 minutes of game time. The off-season league started testing a pitch

  • clock last year — 20 seconds without a pitch and the umpires calls an automatic ball.

  • That's something that may be coming to the majors next.

  • If they already have the clocks in place for between innings, I don't think they're

  • going to be too delicate with the idea of a pitch clock.

  • It's not just pitchers that set the pace though. Batters have their own bad habits.

  • This year, they can be fined $500 if they don't keep one foot in the batters box between

  • pitches. But there's a pretty long list of exceptions.

  • Still some players are not happy about this. I call that bullshit.

  • Batters are already at a disadvantage in this era of hard-throwing pitchers and stricter

  • drug testing. It can be a strategic move to be able to slow things down.

  • If you force a hitter to do that, 70% you are out because you don't have no time to

  • think. But baseball purists say if you go back and

  • watch classic games, before velcro gloves, before players came on the field with a soundtrack,

  • there was a lot less fiddling going on at the plate.

  • Some other factors are a bit harder to tackle. There's been a shift in how teams deploy

  • their pitchers, and it has to do with something called a loogy.

  • Lefty one out guy. It's a pitcher brought in just to face a

  • left handed batter. And it's one of the ways that the bullpen has become more specialized,

  • which means more pitchers playing in each game than before.

  • You've got the loogy, maybe two loogys, 7th inning guy, 8th inning guy, maybe a couple

  • of 8th inning guys then 9th inning guy. More relief pitchers mean more game delays

  • and more commercial breaks. But it's working for the teams so, this trend is probably here

  • to stay. The new instant replay process may have also

  • helped slow down games last year. In theory, reviewing calls should eliminate arguments

  • on the field, but it ended up that managers were stalling while their bench coach tried

  • to decide whether to use their challenge. New rules this year should keep the managers

  • in the dugout during challenges. The league hopes that by cutting out some

  • of the dead time in the game, they'll make baseball more palatable for young people whose

  • attention span can't survive the 23 seconds between pitches.

  • Baseball knows that it has the oldest demographic of the four major North American sports and

  • it's not particularly close. But here's the thing -- football games are

  • actually longer than baseball games, with more dead time and more commercials. And the

  • kids love football. But it doesn't hurt to try. And there's

  • one way that baseball could become more relevant rather than less, in this era of constant

  • digital noise. I think baseball can survive as something

  • of an oasis around that. Where people come and say we need at least

  • one leisurely sport that we can go to and just relax. And if we miss an inning,you know,

  • we're not going to feel bad. We're going to go to the park and sit in the sun for the

  • whole express purpose of a leisurely game with punctuated bursts of excitement.

Baseball players aren't used to watching clocks.

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B1 US Vox baseball inning pitch pace league

Baseball games are longer than ever. Here's why.

  • 7 1
    joey joey posted on 2021/05/18
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