Column: New Baseball Time Limits for the Better

Baseball has long been known as “America’s pastime.” Baseball games are perfect for families, kids, adults and everyone in between. The sport has gained popularity and has an increasing number of fans, but some people can’t get interested simply because games can be long and boring.

With 162 games played by each of the 30 teams in the MLB during regular season and a running average time of just over three hours, it’s fair to see why there is a lack of interest. Last week, the league addressed this concerned by attempting to shorten the time of each game. There are already limits on commercial breaks for the televised games, and the league has no implicated pitching change time limits.

In seasons past, a pitching change was the perfect time to go grab a $9 hot dog or run to the bathroom because you know it would take a decent amount of time. As of last week, the MLB created a rule that pitchers have two minutes and 25 seconds on locally televised games from the time they leave the bullpen until they have thrown their warm up pitches and are ready to resume. For nationally televised games, pitchers have two minutes and 45 seconds.

Much like equipment violations, umpires have been asked not to notify pitchers if they surpass the time limitations. Instead, they were instructed to note the violation and the player would be fined later. The penalty for surpassing the time limit? A whopping $500. A huge dent in the average player’s $3.8 million salary. Though it’s good to see the league being proactive in trying to address fans concerns of the game, is this rule really going to change anything? A player will most likely accept the $500 fine in order to get in extra time throwing warming pitches, rather than rushing their warm up to avoid the laughable fine.

The timing limitations will also apply to the batter being ready to hit the pitch after the time is up. This means batters must adjust gloves, helmet, etc. while keeping one foot in the box. Play challenge calls will also be handled differently. Instead of managers marching out on the field, they have been told to signal the umpire from the dugout and the umpire will approach the manager there.

The league has begun going around and meeting with each of the thirty teams, explaining the rules to all coaches and general managers.

“I thought they did a great job of presenting it,” Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told ABC News. “I think some of these changes are going to be subtle. Like anything, you’ll have proponents and you’ll have people who are against it. But I’m all in favor. And I love that they’re being proactive about it.”

The league won’t meet individually with players, but instead the players union will speak with players and explain the new pace-of-game rules.

Though the rule changes aren’t huge, Toronto GM is right in saying at least the league is being proactive. Game times most certainly won’t plummet down to the 1981 average of 2 and a half hours, but the new rules could shave a few minutes off each game. A quicker paced game may make for more exciting play, and hopefully bring in more fans for the incredible sport of baseball.

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