If I ruled Major League Baseball, one of the many changes I would make would be to shorten game time.
When you turn on any Major League Baseball game there is a good chance that you are not going to be on the edge of your seat for the first few innings. The Red Sox and Yankees played each other on Thursday Sept. 4, and while I was watching I looked over at the clock and it had already been a half hour. It was only the second inning.
The average game time for the Sox / Yankees game this season was just about four hours. According to the Baseball Prospectus’ database, the average time for any other major league game is right above three hours. This has become a big issue as MLB looks to keep up with the fast-pace of the other three major American sports—football, basketball, hockey—while keeping its rich tradition. Newly-voted Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred has a tough job in front of him as he will replace Bud Selig in January. What makes shortening games hard is that there are factors where nothing can be done to shorten the games. Players need to get every competitive advantage they can get.
For example, pitchers should be able to take all the time they need between pitches. They need to feel comfortable to make the pitch and make sure everything is right when facing a good hitter. The time in-between innings should be shorter, but they cannot do this because of advertisements.
The first change that I would make would be to shorten the amount of time that players are allowed to take when they step out of the batters box.
Many players step out and readjust their batting gloves in between every pitch. The only reason a batter should step out of the box should be to get a sign from the base coach. If there is no sign from the coach then the batter should stay in the box in-between pitches.
Another problem is the length of the meetings between the pitcher and the pitching coach. Yes, the umpire does come out to the mound to break it up, but more times than not the meeting still goes on for a few more seconds.
What I would do to solve this problem would be to limit the number of times a coach can visit his pitcher to once an inning.
I would also make these meetings last only ten seconds long, starting when the coach gets to the mound.
This way the coaching staff would have to strategize when to come out and there would be far less of a delay to the game itself.
One of the newer rules to Major League Baseball in the last few years has been the use of replay to get calls right.
However, the amount of time it takes to reach the final verdict is often extensive.
The umpire leaves the field of play to look at the replay and are sometimes gone for close to ten minutes, even when the fans see it on the big screen and know immediately what the call is the first time they see it. Umpires need to pick up the pace for replay reviews.
Even die-hard baseball fans are becoming agitated with how long games are taking and Manfred should make the issue a focal point in the near future.
Many fans fall asleep before games end when they are home and even at the stadium.
For example, Andrew Robert Rector, a man attending a Yankees game last April was caught sleeping in the stands on national television.
If you look around any ballpark past the seventh inning at a night game there will be empty seats.
MLB seriously needs to look into ways to shorten games to keep fans interested in order to stay in competition with the three other major American sports.
Mike Miezejeski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org