Baseball is seeing a small, yet potentially historic drop in game time early in the 2015 season.
Average game times in April were at 2 hours, 54 minutes, which is down eight minutes from last year’s average time of 3:02 (ESPN).
Commissioner Rob Manfred stepped in the broadcast booth on Friday to talk to Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies about pace of game play, among other topics.Manfred said the early returns are good, while noting time of game is a “funny number” because “A lot of things effect time of game that are not really what we’re focused on.”
Manfred added: “More important to me, the games just seem a little crisper. I find that to be encouraging.”
You can check Len and JD’s interview in its entirety here or watch it here:
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports if this downturn holds, it would represent the largest drop in average game time in one season since 1963 when game times dipped from 2:34 to 2:25, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
So far, so good for pace of play initiatives.
Games do seem to be moving at a better pace, thanks in part to batters being committed to staying in the box (or at least not taking lengthy strolls in between pitches) and the timers between innings and when relievers make their appearances.
And as a result of the good start, MLB might relax or even eliminate some of the fines for players found in violation of the new rules that were supposed to begin on May 1 after an April grace period. It’s a nice gesture in good faith for MLB officials and the MLBPA if they can go without having issues about something so minor.
Remember: Arizona Fall League games that enforced pace of play rule changes saw a notable decrease in game time, too. So, this is just another noticeable trend in a positive direction. Further, it would be interesting to see how MiLB has handled changes that were put in place back in March.
Hopefully, this is just the first step toward making baseball easier to watch.