Baseball Attempts to go from Impulse Power to Warp One
March 29, 2019 9:45 PM   Subscribe

In 2019, a young Buck Bokai made his debut in the Planetary Baseball League with the Crenshaw Monarchs. 23 years later, the last World Series was played between the New York Yankees and the London Kings. Meanwhile, also in 2019, Major League Baseball will adopt new rules with the intent of speeding up games.

Despite changes in 2015 to keep the games moving, the average length of a game hit its high mark in 2017, at 3 hours and 5 minutes. Major League Baseball will continue the 2015 changes, which included timers to encourage teams to get back to playing promptly. Pitchers were also encouraged to wait no longer than 20 seconds before setting and pitching.

Some other changes:

It's taken way too long for the term "Disabled List" to be retired. Injured players will now be on the "Injured List".

Fewer and shorter mound visits by the managers: the 30-second timer starts as soon as the coach leaves the dugout, so no more "slow walks" up to the mound to chat with the pitcher. There is some grumbling from managers who don't feel like sprinting to the mound, calming down their pitchers, and sprinting back to the dugout in under 30 seconds.

Pitchers must face a minimum of three batters or reach the end of the half-inning. This is to cut back on breaks in the action as a team cycles through relievers brought in to pitch to a single batter. Theoretically, this will also decrease strikeouts and increase contact.

Rosters will carry 26 players instead of 25, and will expand to 28 in September instead of 40. If teams aren't cycling through four pitchers an inning (or even a different pitcher every inning), they probably don't need to have a platoon of relievers. Unfortunately, this means that the future stars and hopefuls from AAA ball will be much less likely to get a September Call-up.

Will all of this be enough to bring people back to baseball? Can baseball compete for our attention in a world of immediate entertainment? Do we have time for baseball when there are faster, more flashy forms of entertainment out there?

"[Baseball was] the beloved national pastime of the Americas...abandoned by a society that prized fast food and faster games. Lost to impatience." Dr. Stubbs, ST:TNG Evolution

SISKO: I wish I had more time for this.
BUCK: Well, that was baseball's epitaph, wasn't it. Nobody seemed to have time for us anymore. I could've played five more years if they hadn't killed the game.
posted by Gray Duck (74 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't really know enough about the particulars of the game to have an opinion on the rule changes this year. But as a baseball fan and a Deep Space Nine fan, I love your framing!
posted by traveler_ at 9:57 PM on March 29 [11 favorites]


Also as a baseball fan and a DS9 fan this is incredible framing. Go Giants!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:02 PM on March 29 [3 favorites]


I have no idea what the first part is about, but I like the new rules.
posted by bongo_x at 11:15 PM on March 29


Note: nothing to do with the physical quantity impulse (except indirectly via the thread title Start Trek allusion), the classic illustration of which (in my U.S. physics classes, at least) involves a baseball being hit with a baseball bat.

Still cool, though. I've got an old family hasperat recipe we eat while watching the World Series; we'll gain less weight with a shorter faster game.
posted by XMLicious at 11:28 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


I exist here.
posted by vrakatar at 11:35 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I was unhappy in 2015 with the effort to speed up baseball and I remain unhappy with it in 2019.
posted by chavenet at 1:25 AM on March 30 [9 favorites]


Buckaroo Bokai lived to be somewhere between 117 and 134 years old.
posted by Brocktoon at 1:31 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I was unhappy in 2015 with the effort to speed up baseball and I remain unhappy with it in 2019.

Likewise, but I treat baseball as a kind of background noise while I enjoy a picnic and slug beers. I don't want to be rushed. Of course this is Korean league, which doesn't price gouge you and allows you to bring your own food. If I were paying ten bucks a beer I might feel otherwise.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:06 AM on March 30 [8 favorites]


Blern! Blern!
posted by SPrintF at 3:25 AM on March 30 [8 favorites]


From the second link:
I could explain that every sport other than baseball makes rule changes and tweaks every year.
This sometimes has unfortunate consequences. Boys' high school gymnastics was briefly eliminated from certification by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association when that body said it could no longer maintain the rulebook for such a small group of athletes. The sport was reinstated when USAG said "You can use our rules," and the MIAA accepted.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:37 AM on March 30


I'm not much of a sports person but I encounter it fairly often on TVs at places I go to and from an outsiders perspective baseball is glacial and definitely the most boring of the major US sports to be on.

Is there anyone really against speeding up the game from a viewership standpoint?
posted by Ferreous at 5:06 AM on March 30


Plans to speed up the game working really well so far.
posted by freakazoid at 5:11 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I just feel like this is a solution in search of a problem. No baseball fans that I know really care that much about the length of the games. There's mild complaining about it, sure, but nothing rises to the level where they are suggesting they're not going to watch the games. These changes are supposedly being put in place to pick up the pace of the game and bring in (or bring back) fans of other sports. But, no matter what changes you make, baseball isn't basketball; it's inherently a slower paced, more relaxed game. You're not going to change that by starting the mound visit timer when the manager leaves the dugout. It's not like shortening the games from 3 hours to 2h45m is going to bring in hoardes of new fans.

So, as a fan of baseball, I say .... "OK...?" I mean, I'll take those extra 15 minutes, but it's not something that really matters much to me.
posted by Betelgeuse at 5:17 AM on March 30 [9 favorites]


most boring of the major US sports to be on.

Wait, you ve seen Golf, right? And NASCAR?
posted by eustatic at 5:24 AM on March 30 [19 favorites]


I guess I barely consider those sports but I will agree they are certainly more boring.
posted by Ferreous at 5:27 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


Is there anyone really against speeding up the game from a viewership standpoint?

Me. My husband. Most of my baseball-loving friends. I like the game the way it is, including the speed at which it is played. That's part of the draw for me. There are moments of excitement and times of calm. I don't watch sports that are CONSTANT EXCITEMENT because it's exhausting for me.

I don't like this change. Not one bit.
posted by cooker girl at 5:37 AM on March 30 [17 favorites]


They should leave the game as it is and offer an edited condensed broadcast for hypothetical short game fans.
posted by rodlymight at 6:02 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I don't get it.

Baseball is an afternoon game. A double header is an all day thing.

What's the rush? It's about being with friends and watching some people do things, snacking on chips, flipping some burgers, having a beer or whatever, just hanging out, chatting, maybe cheering once in a while.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:08 AM on March 30 [8 favorites]


I don't watch any pro sports anymore but I used to fall asleep with a transistor radio on my pillow listening to Dodger games (L.A., not Brooklyn, old but not that kind of old).

Pro sports are pretty awful for so many reasons but I still love baseball -- the rhythm of it, the chance to sit with friends in the stands and chat, the sounds of that ball striking the bat, or the glove. There's no major league team where I live, so the whole thing is a different, um, ballgame. But you can't fix what's "wrong" with baseball by speeding it up.

Mainly, I wanted to come here to give a shout-out to Crenshaw, home of the Crenshaw Monarchs, because what I think it must be is that middle-class Black section of Los Angeles and I don't know who decided that Buck Bokai would play for that team in that town but I love it.

Indeed, this Venn diagram is a huge part of where I want to live.
posted by allthinky at 6:17 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I think baseball is only thing where it's possible sit down to watch an afternoon game, and maybe drift off into a nap for an inning or two, which only enhances my experience.

Yeah, tweak the rules all you want, but don't destroy that relaxed pacing.
posted by mikelieman at 6:49 AM on March 30 [7 favorites]


I don't want to speed up baseball! It's the only sport that goes slow enough for me to follow.

What other sport can you enjoy while knitting and/or reading a book?

Oh, yeah, cricket. I should start watching cricket.
posted by jb at 7:30 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


In the meantime, an average football game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, and has only 11 minutes of actual play in all that. I’m not aware of a widespread call to speed that up.

I have a feeling that when people say baseball is “too slow,” what they really mean is that it’s “not violent enough.”
posted by adamrice at 7:47 AM on March 30 [22 favorites]


rodlymight, back in 2001 I was living in Japan during Ichiro's first season with the Mariners. NHK used to show a replay of every game that was just like you describe - every pitch from the windup to when the ball was dead, with maybe 2-3 seconds in between and the occasional wide shot to show the game state (who's on base, etc.) Except when Ichiro was at the plate, when it would go back to real time, of course. It took about 45 minutes to an hour per broadcast, and was awesome. I wish those were available here.

As a former M's season ticket holder (split with friends so I went every Friday home game), I'm someone who has definitely drifted away from baseball in part due to the start/stop later innings. It seemed like the first six or seven innings was just throat-clearing and setting the table for the last hour or 90 minutes when an endless chain of hard-throwing relievers would come in to face one guy apiece. If I wanted to watch a sport where the last 10% of the game takes half the running time, I'd watch NBA basketball.

So put me down as hopeful for these changes - it'll likely take half a season or so for teams to fully adjust their tactics, so I'm not concerned about how it looks in April. Hell, I might have to go down to Safeco or whatever they're calling it these days for a couple games, just to show my support.
posted by five toed sloth at 8:02 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


I'm good with baseball remaining an evolving, long-form test, rather than a roped-to-the-almighty-clock thing. There's nothing about teams racing the clock that appeals to me. It wouldn't be baseball. People today seem almost frightened by the idea of slowing down life for awhile and taking time for something.

That said, I do like the idea of pitchers being required to face a minimum of three batters. I've long felt that the parade of pitchers to face a single batter was ridiculous.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:03 AM on March 30 [7 favorites]


Baseball does have a serious pace of play problem. The amount of time spent between pitches has expanded and expanded over the years. While there are good strategic reasons for this, it makes for terrible baseball. It helps the players but not the fans.

Simply shaving off a few seconds between pitches will not substantially shorten the game, however it will make the game experience much better. The game will remain slow paced. However, the pace will be because baseball is naturally slow, not because everyone is a human rain delay.

The establishment of the shot clock in basketball was because the players were abusing the strategy of killing time to win games. This was terrible for the fans and the support. It is important for the league to adjust the sport so that the fans like it. Hard-core fans are fine with it. But you can’t cater towards those fans alone and expect to survive. You have to make it welcoming for new fans. You do that by showing them that baseball is cool. You show them baseball is cool by playing baseball, not adjusting your batting gloves 500 times.

Baseball is fun. Baseball is slow. But the drag between things happening has been increasing and increasing for strategic advantage and it makes for a game that goes from slow to downright boring. Shaving 20 to 30 minutes off of a game simply by limiting the messing around would be a huge boon. Forcing baseball players to play baseball makes sense to me. If you want to put people in the stands, you have to consider what the people in the stands want. They want baseball, not timeouts.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 8:05 AM on March 30 [8 favorites]


The game has slowed considerably in the last 20 years, so perhaps this will push it back to a nice middle ground. However, I would hate to see it become too fast paced. Baseball is a total immersive experience for me, like a sensory deprivation tank or something, and tweaking the tempo too much is reaaaaaally gonna mess that up.
posted by TheCoug at 8:15 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


In addition to golf and NASCAR, we get the Boston Marathon. Local TV stations are telling us that they're going to show us EVERY MINUTE OF THE MARATHON, as though we should be grateful. All those hours of watching people I don't know running relatively slowly doesn't rate as exciting to me. Also, the day used to be a significant local holiday, but now, as far as the news outlets know, it's Marathon Monday, with maybe a quaint parade in a few towns.

NESN does give us 2-hour versions of Red Sox games, but if you're not a Sox fan, that probably doesn't appeal.

Baseball should be a day game, especially on weekends, but the TV networks killed that long ago. I think MLB could revive its viewership numbers if it insisted on weekend games being day games, particularly away games on the other side of the country.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:15 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


What’s also strange about these criticisms is that the end result would be to return the game to its speed and style of the 1980s. How that is “not baseball “I do not understand. They are adjusting the rules in order to codify what used to be common practice. The game evolved, but it evolved to be more boring. It is for the advantage of the players, not the people paying for the tickets. That is not a good way to keep the game interesting for people to pay for tickets.

Also, the games are too damn expensive. But that’s an entirely different rant.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 8:16 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, the batting gloves thing. I know it's some kind of OCD / superstition product, but it looks like the glovemakers are incompetent if their gloves need constant readjustment.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:22 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]




It would be cool if the batters all wore ties, and instead of adjusting their gloves between pitches, they could fiddle with their ties, Rodney Dangerfield-style.
posted by Crane Shot at 8:37 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


You can go to minor league games that have a pitch clock; it is by no means a fast paced game with the pace of play improvements. It doesn't feel faster it just ends earlier.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:41 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I'm on the fence about the new rules. I'm fine with requiring pitchers to face three batters/pitch to the end of the half-inning...make them work instead of respawning a fresh arm for every batter. This is a new thing I'm glad they're getting rid of. Even 20 years ago it would be unimaginable for a team to have a "lefty-lefty reliever ace" in the bullpen just to come out to retire a single batter and then head to the showers.

Of course, that change is one of the main drivers for my least favorite change: no more 40-man roster in September. I really enjoy seeing a sneak preview of the prospects when they come up at the end of the season (and, of course, sudden trades for a Big Bat to help your team in the playoffs).

And, for the love of the baseball gods, I'm glad that pitchers can no longer stand on the mound and stare all day long before throwing the damned ball. There was a Twins pitcher that was particularly slow to pitch...he's kind of a beloved baseball alum now but man, when LaTroy Hawkins would come out of the bullpen I would wail and rend my garments because now we'd have to live through his sixty-second batter stare-down between every pitch.


And as a good old Trekkie: I love Star Trek, and there are particular moments that really stuck with me. When Buck Bokai chats with Sisko:

SISKO: I wish I had more time for this.
BUCK: Well, that was baseball's epitaph, wasn't it. Nobody seemed to have time for us anymore. I could've played five more years if they hadn't killed the game.
SISKO: You were the best that ever played. I know. I've played with them all. I've got work to do.
BUCK: Hey, Ben. It really meant a lot to me, how much you cared. That day we won that World Series, there were only three hundred people in the stands.
SISKO: Three hundred and one in my version.

it was like a punch in the gut. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about a world in which only 300 people showed up for a game seven. I love baseball. I love its history and its traditions and the players and the announcers and its growing pains and its rough patches. I understand the desire to adhere to tradition, but I also understand the need for baseball to appeal to modern audiences that are used to instant gratification and action action action.

Yesterday the Twins beat Cleveland 2-0 in a game that lasted just over 2 hours. It was a pitchers duel for the most part, which helped the game move along. One of our brightest young prospects recorded 10 strikeouts. It was a beautiful day. Cold, but not as bad as some of the other opening days I've attended. Everyone was happy and optimistic. Today the Twins are in the first place in the AL Central. Baseball is back, and spring is soon to follow.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:41 AM on March 30 [11 favorites]


Oh and on a less nostalgic note: there have been lots of silly discussions about ways that the game could be made more "interesting". My personal favorite prospective new rule is: when the batter hits a ball, he can carry the bat with him as he runs the bases, and use it to knock the basemen out of the way.

Or, a trap door on the mound if the pitcher takes too long.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:46 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


I know some of you folk are excitedly waiting for the grass growing/paint drying season, so Here's a couple ideas that could combine your (excitement?) passions : Baseball Cricket Composite, Protoball, and Danish Longball. Alternatively if that's not enough to rev your engines how about this?
posted by evilDoug at 8:56 AM on March 30


I know where the door is, thanks. And sorry...
posted by evilDoug at 8:58 AM on March 30


All this talk about changing the rules reminds me of that old commercial with Shaq talking about the moving baskets.
posted by xedrik at 9:00 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


NESN does give us 2-hour versions of Red Sox games, but if you're not a Sox fan, that probably doesn't appeal.

Depends. I detest the Red Sox, so the less I see of them, the better.

(Go Giants!)
posted by chavenet at 9:09 AM on March 30


I still get tears in my eyes thinking about a world in which only 300 people showed up for a game seven.

You should look up a short story from 1975 titled "The Last Super Bowl Game" by a young writer named George R.R. Martin. (I would not be terribly surprised if the DS9 writers had read it.) The short answer is that it was something like Madden 20XX that killed it. Interestingly, Martin had the last game in 2016, with all the other sports leagues dying out before that; personally, I think that football will be the first to go, given concerns about chronic brain injury. The above-linked Vice article also points out that, although SF and sports don't often intersect because there's not a huge amount of overlap with their fandoms, Martin is a big football fan; in fact, in recent years, he's been criticized for going to games (or doing anything else, really) rather than finishing The Winds of Winter.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:13 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I'm frustrated by the reduction of the roster expansion in September. This really hurts minor leaguers who already get the short end of the stick in a lot of ways.
posted by Carillon at 11:02 AM on March 30 [4 favorites]


I hope it works. I'm one of those people who can start a sentence with "I've enjoyed baseball since it was called the Kingdome" and I'm with the people who'd like the pace to be a little more even and some of the stuff that drags a game into the four hour mark—not all of it, for sure—to be put to pasture. For instance, I'm very on board with what Gray Duck says, "I'm glad that pitchers can no longer stand on the mound and stare all day long before throwing the damned ball."

One of the jokes of my group of friends who like baseball is that it's hard for a new person to pick up the sport. Even the schedule is confusing. ESPN will run a crawl, "BOS @ NYY Jun 4-6," and forget to tell you that's a single game when those two teams meet.
posted by fireoyster at 11:03 AM on March 30


tweak the rules all you want, but don't destroy that relaxed pacing.

Related: George Carlin - Baseball and Football
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:10 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those people who can start a sentence with "I've enjoyed baseball since it was called the Kingdome"

Well if you never caught the Pilots at Sicks....
posted by sammyo at 11:27 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, the batting gloves thing. I know it's some kind of OCD / superstition product, but it looks like the glovemakers are incompetent if their gloves need constant readjustment.

I dunno. I've never played pro baseball, but I have played the other "glove" sport, golf. And, you very much do re-adjust/re-tighten the glove after every shot. And, you're not trying to catch-up with a 90mph inside pitch. Now, maybe they need to simplify the batting gloves? Take them back to when they were more-or-less golf gloves? I dunno if that would help, though. But, as long as batting gloves are allowed, the players are gonna spend time re-adjusting them.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:30 AM on March 30


Baseball doesn’t have a pacing problem. It has an attendance/viewership problem which may or may not be related to pacing. I suspect not. I personally like that it’s a long afternoon in the sun with three beers and dancing between innings. You want pacing, watch an NBA or soccer game. With soccer, you know exactly when the game’s going to be over.

I think baseball’s just dying because our internet age attention spans aren’t into it and I’m a person who understands all the nuances of why the shortstop is playing right of second base and why that runner is taking an extra long lead off first.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:36 AM on March 30 [3 favorites]


I personally like that it’s a long afternoon in the sun with three beers and dancing between innings.

It's not, though. 5 days of the week the games start at 7:00 local time. On the east coast, games in any other time zone start later than that. Postseason games start at some unholy later time for some reason and run forever. If you want to watch every game, you'd better have no other evening plans, pretty much ever. If you want to go to games, you pretty much have to make a night of it.

Football happens on Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon for 4 months, and that's pretty much it. Basketball happens a couple of times a week, and you're never really sure, which is its own problem. Baseball is every. single. day. Which is fine, as long as it's not important to the sport that people make an effort to go to or watch most of the games.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:16 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


The thing about traditionalists not wanting to change the game in any way is that the game has already changed. The increased emphasis on relief pitching, with all the mount visits and pitching changes - that's what makes the games longer. More limits to the these things, be it reduced mound visits, forcing pitchers to face multiple batters, cutting down the number of warm-up pitches (they can warm up in the bullpen just fine - some lefty specialists will throw more pitches in their warm up than in the game itself), will speed things back up.

Other ways to speed up baseball :

1) if the batter didn't swing, they stay set in the batter's box. No stepping out and adjust their gloves and cup after watching a pitch sail in 4 inches off the plate.

2) just give the catches and pitchers earpieces already. No more worrying about someone with binoculars in the outfield seats stealing signs. No more mount visits while they talk to each other with their gloves over their mouths.
posted by thecjm at 12:22 PM on March 30 [3 favorites]


Here's how you speed up baseball: make it five innings. Seven max.
posted by zardoz at 12:31 PM on March 30


extra time from reduced innings would just be further eaten up by players and managers trying to do weird mind games on each other.
posted by vogon_poet at 12:37 PM on March 30


Baseball doesn’t have a pacing problem.

Oh, but it does -- just not in the way people in this thread have been saying. I agree that it doesn't have a game-pace issue, but baseball does have a significant lineup-pace issue.

In the other popular team sports, teams can employ offensive strategies to make sure that their best players have a much greater [read: disproportional] impact than their lesser players. Teams then use defensive strategies to mitigate that disproportional impact.

Mike Trout will only bat 1/9th of the time.

Make lineups reset every inning. Guarantee the best hitters at least 8 or 9 at-bats per game. If that means giving pitchers more advantages to compete (like re-raising the mound to 1968 levels), then do it.
posted by Groundhog Week at 12:42 PM on March 30


But, as long as batting gloves are allowed, the players are gonna spend time re-adjusting them.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but lots of hitters don't adjust their gloves before every swing. It's why Nomar, et. al. stand out.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:43 PM on March 30


Make lineups reset every inning.

No, please. The 'problem' you've identified is a defining characteristic of the game. A feature, if you will.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:46 PM on March 30 [7 favorites]


The 'problem' you've identified is a defining characteristic of the game.

So is players and managers wasting my time by arguing balls and strikes.
posted by Groundhog Week at 12:53 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Apologies, that above response was flippant. It may be a defining characteristic, but you need to explain how it's a good feature.
posted by Groundhog Week at 12:57 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


It’s democratic. Every player from the .350 slugger to the lowly .100 shortstop takes their turn at bat. Note: this is why the DH rule is an affront to decent people everywhere.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:05 PM on March 30 [14 favorites]


All those hours of watching people I don't know running relatively slowly doesn't rate as exciting to me.

Whoah, buddy. Let's not say anything we are going to regret later.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:17 PM on March 30


Strikeouts are boring, besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls. More democratic.
posted by dudemanlives at 3:26 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I am not a sports follower, but the changes seem to be in the realm of M. Wheaton's advice of "don't be a dick".
posted by Evilspork at 3:46 PM on March 30


The three batter thing is bullshit.
posted by Windopaene at 3:58 PM on March 30


I love the new rules proposed. I think the 3-batter minimum is a GREAT one - it's dreadfully boring to watch teams trot out their version of a LOONY etc. etc. for matchup math reasons.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:35 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


The three batter thing is fine; the one-batter-only pitching change is the extra-point/commercial/kickoff/commercial of baseball, and should rightfully be derided as a waste of everyone's time and a true violation of Time-Honored Baseball Traditions.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:44 PM on March 30 [4 favorites]


the beloved national pastime of the Americas

This is a funny sentence construction. The Americas aren't a nation at the moment. Are they in one of the ST timelines? At the point when this happens do the Brazilians, Argentinians, Uruguayans, etc decide to give up football* in favour of baseball then in fairly short order decide to dump it again? This seems pretty unlikely.

*proper
posted by biffa at 5:27 PM on March 30


I've enjoyed watching this thread unfold at its own leisurely pace over the last twenty hours, but I just want to point out that according to Wikipedia, MLB currently has the highest total attendance of any professional sports league in the world, by a very long margin, and trails only the NFL and the Bundesliga in attendance per game. Four times as many games as the Premier League or La Liga and baseball pulls more spectators per game. So this is a minor tweak of a popular thing that I expect to remain popular.

I've been to three MLB games in my life, and they were all fine. But I've got four season tickets to our local NCAA-affiliated sundown league here in rural VA and man I'm looking forward to June.
posted by sy at 6:59 PM on March 30


I like the 3 batter minimum too. It seems like an obvious change that doesn't appear to have any downside (except maybe for pitchers chasing stat records).

rodlymight: "They should leave the game as it is and offer an edited condensed broadcast for hypothetical short game fans."

Like streamlined Mythbusters. I think I might actually voluntarily watch that occasionally.

zardoz: "Here's how you speed up baseball: make it five innings. Seven max."

Also, mercy rules in regular season games. If your team is up by seven after 7, they win. Up by 10 after 4, they win and get an extra point.

sy: "MLB currently has the highest total attendance of any professional sports league in the world, by a very long margin"

Looks like they exclude NASCAR which blows them out of the water (admittedly with far fewer events at the top tier) per game/race.

Also it excludes TV viewership which is tilting the scale in baseball's favour.
posted by Mitheral at 8:02 PM on March 30


It may be a defining characteristic, but you need to explain how it's a good feature.

It's an essential feature that requires trade-offs and gives teams some differentiating character. Team A might go for the best fielder and just endure the pain of his poor batting. Another team might invest in well-rounded players. Or any mix in between. It would be super-boring to watch specialized players doing their one task and not having to worry about the rest.

Emphasis: Note: this is why the DH rule is an affront to decent people everywhere.

I actually like the slow pace. Baseball is a lot about the anticipation, the hanging on the edge of your seat because the whole situation could change at any time. With that said, I'm fully with the crowd that could do without all the pitcher switching. You put him in, you live with your decision for a while. (Gives them another choice to agonize about)
posted by ctmf at 10:22 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


BTW for people looking for the condensed broadcast for short game fans, I think you might be in for a treat. MLB's streaming game service, MLB.tv, already offers this—even called "condensed games"—for most of the games available through that service. It runs between 8 and 20 minutes depending on how much action happened (basically it shows every hit of consequence and every scoring event and all of the "great plays").

They're available to any MLB.tv subscriber, even if you were blacked out of watching the game stream live, and usually show up 12 hours after the game finishes. Many of them are posted by MLB on YouTube; just search for the team you want, date you want, and "condensed game."

Some of the regional sports networks offered on cable also do a 30- or 60-minute edited version, with more plays and some of the "color" like funny things from the stands or brief bits of interviews. ROOT Sports Northwest calls it "Mariners Midday." Fox Sports Southwest calls it "Lunch with the Rangers."
posted by fireoyster at 11:09 PM on March 30


If your team is up by seven after 7, they win. Up by 10 after 4, they win and get an extra point.

God, no. It is far from rare for a leading team's pitching to collapse and give up 8 or 10 runs in late innings. I see it happen more than once every year. Taking away that possibility makes it not baseball any more, and actually reduces the drama.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:33 AM on March 31 [5 favorites]


It warms my heart to see someone mention baseball and drama in the same comment unironically.
posted by evilDoug at 5:18 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


I'm dating a lovely guy from South India and now that Indian Premier League cricket has started, I've watched several T20 games and am starting to piece together how it works and more or less why it is fun to watch. I do not think I could handle test match cricket in its entirety right now, but it's funny that the "quick" cricket matches are invariably longer than all but the very longest extra innings baseball games, and purists complain that these games are so speedy they're ruining the integrity of the game and no longer reward patience and strategy.

I do feel like it's totally reasonable to give pitchers more than 20 seconds to prepare before strategically hurling a tiny hard ball near, but not at, someone else's body. And I'm also fine with batters taking time to reset. As long as nobody's pulling any Nomar Garciaparra nonsense, that is.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:38 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Will they be adding a Nomar Interval to the Mendoza Line?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:12 AM on March 31


fireoyster: "It runs between 8 and 20 minutes depending on how much action happened (basically it shows every hit of consequence and every scoring event and all of the "great plays")."

That's a little too condensed IMO (though there is a hockey rundown show (or used to be anyway) that basically shows every goal from every game for the entire week in 30 minutes which was fun). I'd still like to see every pitch; just not all the glove adjusting, pitcher warm ups and stare downs, umpire discussions, signal exchanges, substitutions, offence/defence exchanges, anthem singing, first pitch pageantry, inning breaks, anything involving a manager, outfield shifting, etc. EG: A fly ball with no one on is caught for an out -- a few seconds after the fielder catches the ball skip right to a few seconds before the release of the next pitch. The final out of an inning skips to a few seconds before the release of the first pitch of the next inning.

Google is saying there are on average ~150 pitches per team per game. If you figured 15 seconds per pitch that is 37.5 minutes per side or 1.25 hours per game. Most games would likely take less than 1.5 hours.

fireoyster: "Some of the regional sports networks offered on cable also do a 30- or 60-minute edited version, with more plays and some of the "color" like funny things from the stands or brief bits of interviews. ROOT Sports Northwest calls it "Mariners Midday." Fox Sports Southwest calls it "Lunch with the Rangers.""

That sounds more like it.
posted by Mitheral at 9:52 AM on March 31


They should leave the game as it is and offer an edited condensed broadcast for hypothetical short game fans.

Sportsnet in Canada had "Jays in 30" which was well done. Not sure if they're still doing it.
posted by bongo_x at 4:33 PM on March 31




For me the main thing with the length of games is if I'm watching in person or not. I have nothing against staying at a game going into long extra innings if I'm in the stands, but I get antsy watching a game on TV at home. I don't think it has anything to do with the game, I think for me it's mostly the setting.

I'm also not pleased about the roster limits, for all the reasons stated above. Speculating about who might be getting a september call is one of my favorite parts, or at least watching serious sports nerds get into it is.

Related, I don't care about pitching changes, it's just a chance to get another beer, but I will be sad to miss out on baseball nerds statisticing out over late inning match ups.

The mound visit thing I'm all in favor of, and would honestly not be opposed to just eliminating, or limiting to like once a game. I get that the pitcher has a lot more individual pressure on them, but that's part of the game, and every other player on the field is capable of communicating whatever they need to without having a special little meeting, and no one else gets to have someone come out and give them a mid-inning pep talk. Maybe just the pitchers have to work mental strength into their game more, and we'll sure see more pitching collapses, which are fun!
(Me and my therapist will be having a discussion about how much being an outfielder and de facto excluded from those meetings in my baseball days plays into that opinion, and the rest of my life.)


In the meantime, an average football game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, and has only 11 minutes of actual play in all that. I’m not aware of a widespread call to speed that up.

I have a feeling that when people say baseball is “too slow,” what they really mean is that it’s “not violent enough.”


I think this is spot on. Football games are just as long, and far, far less of it is actual play time, and most of that is 30 seconds of large men instantly hitting each other and someone not catching a ball. It's exciting the same reason nascar is exciting to some, the inherent massive physical risk.

Also, Mike Trout recently signed a 12 year contract that is the largest in all sports ever, so I'm guessing those bean counters who decided that would be a profitable move know more than us and are pretty sure baseball will continue to be incredibly popular, despite games going longer.
posted by neonrev at 4:46 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


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