Speeding Up Baseball

Jayson Stark of ESPN says MLB players want ‘voice’ in changes:

That while players are generally in favor of shorter games, they haven’t been shown survey data documenting exactly what fans are telling baseball it needs to change and what those changes would accomplish.

Really, players are that unaware? Let’s see how easy this can be said.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH BASEBALL IS PACE OF PLAY.

There is the feedback. It’s awful. NBA and NHL games take around two hours. Football games push past three a lot of the time, but some of that is because of halftime. Baseball games regularly push three, and even non-overtime games can hit four in the right circumstances. This is completely unacceptable. There is no reason a regular season baseball game should take four hours, or even three.

The counter arguments in vein of “that is how it’s always been” are absolute nonsense. Not wanting fans to countdown a pitch clock are ludicrious. These are professional baseball players. And there are a million tweaks that could be made.

The obvious answer has always been just to limit when a pitcher can step off the mound and when a hitter can step out of the box. Starting with the simple rule that neither of those things can happen once an at-bat starts unless there is a foul ball seems like a really easy way to go. Allow each hitter one warning per game, and a pitcher one or two. This would probably make a pretty significant difference without drastically altering things.

There should also be a limit to the number of times a catcher can go to the mound. Once per inning might be good.

Pitch clocks might be overkill, for now, as that time won’t seem nearly as long to fans without the constant stepping in and out of the box. If things don’t get a lot better, something more drastic can be considered.

Commercials aren’t going away, or getting shorter, anytime soon. Other ways to speed up games would likely be things that players would dislike as well. Fewer warm-up pitches is one example.

There is no denying “modern analytics” could play a role here. But that just makes the point more obvious. If players can accept these new fangled ideas, it shouldn’t be so hard to accept that just because this stuff has always been allowed that it should continue to be.

Pace of play is a major problem. Baseball doesn’t want to admit that they are losing fans, but guess what, they are. Fewer and fewer people under 30 are into baseball, and it’s likely that will only grow and grow in the coming years as the next generations are raised with baseball being at best the #2 sport.