Major League Baseball two years ago implemented rules that were designed to improve pace of play. One of the rules no longer allowed players to step outside the batter’s box after they took a pitch. In addition, a clock was added so play would resume immediately following commercial breaks between innings.
Thanks to those rule changes, the time to complete a game dropped by all of six minutes from 2014 to 2015. That is almost unnoticeable when watching a game, but it all helps, says officials in the commissioner’s office.
However, from the 2015 season to the 2016 season, the time to complete a game increased by 4 minutes, which is what the league did not have in mind.
Therefore, it is no surprise that one of the top priorities for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is quicken the pace of the game. On Friday, Manfred said that the pace of the game is a big issue and must be focused upon.
However, he said he did not think there was anything magical that will fix it with one solution indicating it would be an ongoing effort to ensure the game moves forward in the way that is attractive to fans.
In 2015, a pitch clock of 20 seconds was tested by baseball in the Arizona Fall League. That was later adopted for Double-A as well as Triple-A. The clock dropped the time to complete a game by 16 minutes at the International League level in Triple-A from one year to the next and by 13 minutes at the Pacific Coast League in Triple-A.
The pitch clock has been opposed by the player’s union for the major league level, as pitchers do not want to be rushed into pitching their next pitch. Pitchers at the top level want to be able to think through things prior to throwing their next pitch.
In addition, there is concern by some that pitchers could be hurt if they increase their speed between pitches.
The league’s goal of making the game quicker is not to shorten the actual length of the game, but the league wants to cut down on the dead time that takes place within the game.
For instance, when hitters step out of between pitches to adjust their batting glove or belt or sleeves or any one or all of the above making the game drag on longer than they want.