The 2015 baseball season will be the first year subject to the new “Pace of Play” rules that are a part of Major League Baseball’s crusade to speed up the game. The MLB’s latest goal is to find a way to shorten the length of baseball games in the hope of becoming more appealing to new fans.
The average length of a baseball game has grown to be over three hours more often than not, which seems to be a problem to the league.
The objective of the rules is to speed up the game to create a better experience for the fans. However, many fans of baseball are fans of the rich tradition of the game that has been passed down for generations.
Major League Baseball announced the main changes that effect both pitchers and hitters in a statement made in February.
“The pace of game program will enforce the batter’s box rule, requiring that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batter’s box unless one of a group of exceptions occurs,” the statement says.
The ability to step out of the batters box is a staple of baseball and the way players have learned the game. It has been clear during Spring Training that stepping out of the box is engrained in the habits of many players as they found themselves jumping back in the box after subconsciously stepping out after a pitch.
Sure, we might save a few seconds each at-bat, but do we really want to force players to stand like robots with one foot cemented to the ground inside the box?
The rule changes do not stop there, as pitchers are also forced to change their routines and the way they operate between innings.
“A second new component to the pace of game program is the addition of timers that will measure non-game action and break time between innings and pitching changes during each Major League game,” the statement says. “Pitchers will be permitted to throw as many warm-up pitches as they wish prior to the point when 30 seconds remain on the clock; however, pitchers will be deemed to have forfeited any of their traditional eight warm-up pitches that they are unable to complete prior to the 30-second deadline.”
Adding the aspect of a clock into the game of baseball will be another huge change. It will be interesting to see how strictly it will be enforced if a pitcher is unable to complete their usual 8 warm up pitches before an inning.
Do we really think by shortening the length of baseball games by say, 20 or 30 minutes, the sport would gain any more fans? There will always be the claim that baseball is “boring” by those that are fans of other sports, and that is fine. Does Major League Baseball really want to start changing some of the finer points of such a beautiful game in order to sway the casual sports fan?
In such a fast paced society, have we really lost the ability to sit back and enjoy a baseball game? Baseball is a sport where you need to record 27 outs to win, there is no such thing as stalling to run out the clock at the end of a game to secure victory. You have to earn every out, that is just the way the game is played. I, for one, am okay with however long that takes.