Thursday, January 15, 2015

Baseball: This Would Work

I write several grouchy old man posts a year about how baseball is so tediously slow that it's unwatchable.

That doesn't mean I don't want to watch it. I just can't, in its current form. The pace of the game is unbearable.

In 1974, the average length of a major league game was 2:29. That's the era in which I became a fan. Today, 40 years later, the average game length is 3:09. And the extra 40 minutes is coma-inducing tedium: excruciating time between pitches, endless trips to the mound, etc.

Incredibly, Major League Baseball, which is at least as progressive as [insert your choice of organizations from the 15th century HERE], is actually experimenting with ways to fix this.

Most prominently: a pitch clock.

How it works is simple:
...we know how it'll work from its use in the Arizona Fall League: pitchers have exactly 20 seconds from the moment they receive the ball to come to the set position for the next pitch. It'll be tracked by on-field scoreboards visible to pitchers and umpires, and if they fail to come set, the umpire declares an automatic ball.

That seems simple. Was it effective?
The pitch clock was one of a handful of innovations tested out in three Arizona Fall League games, all designed to reduce the length of games, and together they appeared to work. Games average 2:51 in the AFL; the three experimental games lasted 2:14, 2:28, and an 11-inning affair that went 3:12.

30 minutes shaved off games? Sign me up.

You can see more details and a video of it working in action here.

Of course, this will probably never happen. Getting MLB and the MLBPA to agree on anything is basically impossible, and has been for decades. Throw the umpire's union in there and it's even worse.

If they ever do this, though, and games actually start lasting 2:40 again (or less) on a regular basis, count me in.

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