MLB’s “Pace-of-Play” Adjustments are Ridiculous

MLB have implemented a type of "play clock" in an effort to shorten the time of their games. [Image from]
MLB have implemented a type of “play clock” in an effort to shorten the time of their games. [Image from]

On Friday, February 20, in a move anticipated by many fans, Major League Baseball announced three new rules to be implemented for this upcoming season. The new rules would help speed up the pace of the game. The three new rules were:

1. Umpires will now enforce Rule 6.02(d), requiring hitters to keep one foot in the box during an at-bat, subject to certain exceptions.

This. Is. Ridiculous. You’re forcing the batter to stay in the box at all times during an at-bat? Many batters like to take a little walk around the box. It is even a strategy for some players. It helps the batter remain calm so that he can hit the ball. However, according to MLB, this will force the batter to be ready earlier, speeding up the game.

2. Timers will be used to ensure that the game resumes promptly at the end of inning breaks.

A timer will count down the following:

  • 40 seconds – The batter will be announced and his walk-up music will start
  • 30 seconds – The pitcher will throw his last warmup pitch
  • 25 seconds – The batter’s walk-up music will stop
  • 20 seconds – Broadcasting of the game resumes
  • 5 seconds – The batter must have at least one foot in the batter’s box
  • 0 seconds – The pitcher must being his throwing motion

Major League Baseball will have a “grace period” in effect until the end of April. After this, disobedience of the clock will result in fines and warnings, with repeat offenders possibly receiving suspensions.

I don’t really like this much either. With the recent change, he pitcher has from the end of the previous inning up until the timer hits 30 seconds to throw as many warm-up pitches as he possibly can. This is changed from the previous MLB rule of 8 warm-up pitches. This will most likely make pitchers rush their warm-ups, which could result in injuries or poor performances.

3. Managers will no longer come out of the dugout to initiate a replay challenge. A manager will also keep his challenge after each call that is overturned. Last year, a challenge was retained only after the first overturned call.

This is pretty contradicting. The manager will get unlimited challenges if he keeps getting them right. This will only slow down the game. I thought MLB wants to make the games shorter. Also, will the managers get challenge flags similar to those in the NFL? That would be pretty cool.

I don’t like these rule changes. Baseball is the one sport that does not use a clock or have a time limit. That is what makes baseball, well, baseball.

Delaying the game by stepping out of the box or stepping off the mound has been a part of the game for a long time, and it is even used as a strategy for many pitchers and batters in an attempt to throw off the opposition.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to do too much in his first year as Commissioner. In addition to these rule changes, Manfred has stated that he wants to boost offense. It has been shown that the more runs you score, the longer the game will go on (because of pitching changes, pitchers stalling, mound visits etc.), so he’s just contradicting himself.

The average time of a MLB game in the early 1970’s was about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Currently, the average game takes about 2 hours and 51 minutes. Compared to other pro sports, that’s not all that terrible. NFL games clock in at 3 hours and 11 minutes, NBA games take 2 hours and 15 minutes, and NHL games are done in about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Although the length of an average MLB game has increased over the past few years, it still isn’t a major problem. It’s not that much longer than the games of the other Major American sports.

Of course, a few years back, there were quite a few Yankees-Red Sox games that went over the 4-hour mark despite only playing 9 innings. There was even one that nearly hit the 5-hour mark. But, a major reason for that was that the games were in the middle of a pennant race in an intense rivalry, and both managers (and all players involved) desperately wanted to win. Can you really blame Joe Torre and Terry Francona for that?

Hopefully, this will be the extent of new rules implemented in Major League Baseball. It’s already bad enough that batters have to keep one foot in the box and timers will be used in between innings. What’s next? A “pitch clock” ticking down in between pitches?