MLB making rule changes to shorten game time

by Staff Writer Kadin Pounders

Change is inevitable and change is what is coming to MLB this season.

As the National Football League increases in popularity, MLB and its players association officials had to make decisions to combat the “boring” label many fans started to place on “America’s Pastime.”

Unlike most sports, there is no running clock in baseball. There are no ties. A game goes nine innings or more until there is a victor.

The MLB games are steadily getting longer despite the decrease in runs scored from an average of 5.14 runs per team per game in 2000 to 4.07 in 2014, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Games lasted two hours and 55 minutes in 2010 and three hours and three hours and eight minutes in 2014 on average, according to USA Today.

The changes include putting the pitcher on a clock, a new batter’s box rule, eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk, instant replay modifications and a three “time out” rule.

John Schuerholz, President of the Atlanta Braves and Chairman of the Pace of Game Committee released a statement regarding the new rules.

“The Pace of Game Committee wants to take measured steps as we address this industry goal to quicken the pace of our great game,” he said. “It is not an objective of ours to achieve a dramatic time reduction right away; it is more important to develop a culture of better habits and a structure with more exact timings for nongame action.”

In most sports, there is a trickle-down effect, but college baseball has been ahead of the curve in terms of speeding up the game, said UNA head coach Mike Keehn.

“College has been in the forefront of this,” Keehn said. “There’s actually a time period between innings to help speed (the game) up. It never was really enforced because (players) went quick enough.”

Keehn said pitching changes in the MLB is the one factor that slows the game down the most.

“The game flows well until it gets to when you start changing pitchers,” he said. “That is what prolongs the game at the Major League level because they are so specialized in the bullpen.”

After experimenting in the Arizona Fall League, the somewhat controversial changes officially began at the start of spring training in the form of new pace-of-play rules.

The experimental rules used in the Arizona Fall League cut the average game time by ten minutes from two hours and 52 minutes to two hours and 42 minutes, according to the MLB’s website.

Some MLB players said they have a problem with the new rules, while other do not.

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, more affectionately known as “Big Papi,” has spoke against the new rules.

“It doesn’t matter what they do, the game is not going to speed up. That’s the bottom line,” Ortiz said in an ESPN interview Feb. 25. “The game has been going on for over 100 years. I don’t care who you are, you’re not going to change it.”

In an interview with The Providence Journal, Ortiz said he believes the rules are aimed more toward hitters than pitchers.

“It seems like every time they want to speed up the game, they focus on the hitters,” he said. “How about the guy on the mound like this (imitating a pitcher shaking off signs) for three hours? Nobody talks about that.”

The penalty for breaking the new rules will be warnings and minor fines.