It’s the vogue complaint about baseball these days: the games move too slowly, and take too long.
Apply varying degrees of nuance and context, and I generally agree. For my personal enjoyment, of course, baseball is just fine. For my vision of what baseball needs to be, however, to pick up new, younger fans (to sustain the sport for the very long-term), I am of the mind that pace and length need to be addressed.
I don’t think drastic changes are advisable or necessary at this time, but there are little things – like, enforcing the rules as they’re already written, for example – that could improve the situation.
To that end, MLB – via outgoing Commissioner Bud Selig – has just created a new committee to study, and improve, the present pace of the game. The statement from MLB:
Major League Baseball announced that Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig has conducted a conference call with a new committee that will study the issue of pace of game. The goals of the committee will focus on decreasing time of game and improving the overall pace of play in the 2015 regular season and beyond.
The committee will be chaired by Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz. Other members include (alphabetically) New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson; MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark; Boston Red Sox partner Michael Gordon; MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred; MLB Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations Joe Torre; and Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner.
Commissioner Selig said: “We have the greatest game in the world, but we are always looking for ways to improve it. The game is at its highest levels of popularity and we will continue to strive to identify ways that can build on its stature well into the future. With the cooperation of all appropriate parties, we can make progress on improving the pace of play, and we will have recommendations in the very near future for the 2015 season. I believe that this group has the experience and the perspective to be mindful of our game’s traditions while being creative about our approach in the future.”
There are already rules about time between pitches (12 seconds with no one on base), so, again, it’s not like MLB needs to immediately take drastic measures. Limit that, reduce the permissible times out of the box for the hitter, and you’ve started down the right path. From there, MLB can get a little more creative – though it will have to guard jealously against unintended consequences.
I’ll be very interested to hear what items the committee is looking at, and what recommendations it makes for 2015.