Pace of Game Thread

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This seems worth discussing:

With the average Major League Baseball game soaring past three hours despite decreasing offensive numbers in the game, the league announced Monday that it will test out various experimental rules changes during Arizona Fall League play to improve the sport’s pace.

They include some dramatic changes, like eliminating the need to actually throw four balls to intentionally walk a batter, and some obvious ones, like limiting the amount of time a pitcher can take between pitches.

The full list of rules to be tested are as follows, from a Major League Baseball press release.

1. Batter’s Box Rule: “The batter shall keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout his at-bat, unless one of a series of established exceptions occurs, in which case the batter may leave the batter’s box but not the dirt area surrounding home plate.”

2. No-Pitch Intentional Walks: “In the event a team decides to intentionally walk a batter, no pitches shall be thrown. Instead, the manager shall signal to the home plate umpire with four fingers, and the batter should proceed to first base to become a runner.”

3. 20-Second Rule: (To be used only at AFL games played at Salt River Fields) “A modified version of Rule 8.04, which discourages unnecessary delays by the pitcher, shall apply. Rule 8.04 requires the pitcher to deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball with the bases unoccupied. The penalty prescribed by Rule 8.04 for a pitcher’s violation of the Rule is that the umpire shall call ‘Ball.’

“In the AFL games at Salt River, a clock will be displayed in both dugouts, behind home plate, and in the outfield. The clock will be operated by an independent operator, who is not a member of the umpire crew. A pitcher shall be allowed 20 seconds to throw each pitch…. The clock will stop only when the pitcher begins his motion to deliver the ball (and not ‘when the pitcher releases the ball’ as prescribed in Rule 8.04). Beginning the motion of coming to the set position shall be sufficient to stop the clock. If the pitcher maintains possession of the ball without beginning his pitching motion for more than 20 seconds, the Umpire shall call ‘Ball.'”

4. 2:05 Inning Break Clock: “There shall be a maximum 2:05 break between innings. Hitters must enter the batter’s box by the 1:45 mark. When batters violate this rule, the Umpire may call an automatic strike. When batters are set by the appropriate time and pitchers fail to throw a pitch before the conclusion of the 2:05 period, the Umpire shall call a ball.”

5. 2:30 Pitching Change Break Clock: “There shall be a maximum 2:30 break for pitching changes, including pitching changes that occur during an inning break. The first pitch must be thrown before the conclusion of the 2:30 period or the umpire shall call a ball. The clock shall start when the new pitcher enters the playing field (i.e., crosses the warning track, or foul line).”

6. Three “Time Out” Limit: “Each team shall be permitted only three ‘Time Out’ conferences per game (including extra innings). Such conferences shall include player conferences with the pitcher (including the catcher), manager or coach conferences with the pitcher, and coach conferences with a batter. Conferences during pitching changes, and time outs called as a result of an injury or other emergency, shall not be counted towards this limit. A manager, coach or player will not be permitted to call a fourth time out in violation of this Rule. In such cases, the game will continue uninterrupted, and offenders may be subject to discipline.”

Not sure what to make of some of these changes. I like seeing the pitches during intentional walks; they're fun to cheer or boo and it makes for some dramatic moments. A few of these other changes also seem invasive: Lots of extra rules that could be enforced only sporadically, confusing everybody when they are called. Hard to argue with the intent, though.

Evan R, Thursday, 2 October 2014 18:33 (six years ago) link

Definitely see the need to get rid of the ability of essentially any player to pause the game at any time they see fit, but some of these changes chip away at the strategy I find interesting about the game.

Also, "instant replay" feels like the elephant in the room in this report. "How can we shorten the game we just lengthened," etc.

Evan R, Thursday, 2 October 2014 18:51 (six years ago) link

i think the big thing is how long it takes to replace a pitcher. watching a manager slowly shuffle out a little after the catcher dawdles out and chit chat until the umpire starts to get agitated in order to buy their closer more just kills me. especially a rough inning where there will be a few changes.zzzz city.

Porto for Pyros (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Thursday, 2 October 2014 19:13 (six years ago) link

Yeah those are the worst. And like a lot of these delays, they're even worse on television. Couple of pitches, commercial break.

Evan R, Thursday, 2 October 2014 19:22 (six years ago) link

the conferences, etc are annoying but i think the big difference is the stepping out of the box/adjusting gloves/spitting on hands after every single pitch

i was watching some of game 7 of the '71 series recently and stargell and clemente never step out of the box (boog powell is a bit slower, tho):

(it helps that blass doesn't pause when pitching from the stretch)

mookieproof, Thursday, 2 October 2014 20:04 (six years ago) link

yup – they should def stop putting up with all the glorified nervous tic behaviour in between every frigging pitch.

Porto for Pyros (The Cursed Return of the Dastardly Thermo Thinwall), Thursday, 2 October 2014 21:07 (six years ago) link

Definitely like #3. How fast the pitcher works seems like a crucial variable to me--and something I really notice when I watch older games.

clemenza, Thursday, 2 October 2014 23:09 (six years ago) link

didn't a few rules get put in 4-5 years ago only to be summarily ignored by everyone?

linda cardellini (zachlyon), Friday, 3 October 2014 07:20 (six years ago) link

I like all these ideas, and double yes to the dudes stepping outside of the box on every pitch

Maggie killed Quagmire (collest baby ever) (frogbs), Friday, 3 October 2014 11:54 (six years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Joe (Cubicle hell)
Klaw.. please provide your thoughts on the attempt to speed up the game during AFL... is it working?

Klaw (2:31 PM)
Umps were ignoring that stuff when I was out there. I think just getting batters to stay in the box will improve the perceived pace of the game substantially.

this horrible, rotten slog to rigor mortis (Dr Morbius), Friday, 24 October 2014 16:08 (six years ago) link

two months pass...

pitch clocks, foot-in-box rules to be implemented in double-a, triple-a

mookieproof, Thursday, 15 January 2015 16:58 (six years ago) link

three months pass...

Anything noteworthy in the pace of game department? The Braves are playing a lot of 2:20-ish games lately. Has Papi changed his between-pitch routine at all?

WilliamC, Wednesday, 6 May 2015 14:47 (six years ago) link

Through 30 games, the Southern League has shaved 13 minutes off the average 9-inning game time, from 2:52 to 2:39

mookieproof, Monday, 11 May 2015 15:43 (six years ago) link

Pitchers are always better than hitters in April

Compare to the average April game length and then let's see

TracerHandVEVO (Tracer Hand), Monday, 11 May 2015 15:58 (six years ago) link

Gotta say these rules seem less intrusive than I feared. I don't think they alone explain the 8-minute drop in average game time the league has seen this year, but they aren't hurting anything

Evan R, Monday, 11 May 2015 17:57 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

Could a (Catcher's) Helmet Headset Speed Up Games?

mookieproof, Friday, 13 January 2017 00:44 (four years ago) link


Supercreditor (Dr Morbius), Friday, 13 January 2017 14:48 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

Marwin Gonzalez wins the batting title you don’t want: xHSAA ...a pace metric controlling for context. @bachlaw @tangotiger #useless stats #rstats #MLB Other fun pace stats:

— Sam Sharpe (@SharpeWordz) March 1, 2018

mookieproof, Thursday, 1 March 2018 17:25 (three years ago) link

each extra inning will start with a runner on second at all levels of the minors + limited mound visits + 15-second pitch clock with no runners on (at AAA/AA only)

mookieproof, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:43 (three years ago) link

needless to say, righteous purists are pissed and everyone who works in the minors is thrilled

mookieproof, Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:46 (three years ago) link

any novelty welcome, eh

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 15 March 2018 00:59 (three years ago) link

this obviously makes sense in short-season A, where less of that garbage is a better value

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 15 March 2018 01:00 (three years ago) link

i think a better choice would have been to just call it a tie after ten innings, but whatever

impressive how worked up ppl have gotten though -- 'i will never attend a minor league baseball game again'/'are you gonna give everyone a participation trophy after the game'/'fuck you you fucking cucks'

mookieproof, Thursday, 15 March 2018 02:22 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

cardinals-pirates today

11 innings
11 runs
14 hits
16 walks
26 strikeouts
16 pitchers

and all in a crisp 4:50

mookieproof, Tuesday, 2 April 2019 03:12 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

The Entire 2019 Kentucky Derby & the time between 2 Greinke pitches to Albies, Overlayed.

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 11, 2019

mookieproof, Saturday, 11 May 2019 17:17 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

The Red Sox now have...... 21 active pitchers.

— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) September 4, 2019

mookieproof, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 17:26 (two years ago) link

The job of Cora and Kevin Cash is to find a way to win, every day. Theirs is not the job of creating nationwide interest. Baseball's deference to the evils of showcase development and the idiocy of unlimited Sept rosters making games unwatchable is the fault of MLB. Period.

— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) September 4, 2019

mookieproof, Wednesday, 4 September 2019 20:44 (two years ago) link

one year passes...


mookieproof, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 16:25 (six months ago) link

Brainstorming: if batter has both feet outside of the batter box, catcher can tag them for an out. At all times. No equipment time out.

Van Horn Street, Friday, 19 March 2021 16:57 (six months ago) link

Personally, it's the walking around the batter's box between pitches that is killing me.

Van Horn Street, Friday, 19 March 2021 16:58 (six months ago) link

farhan zaidi on the radio argued that it’s the greater athleticism of today’s players that’s causing games to stretch out... like every pitch is a monster feat of atheleticism now and you can’t just be a dude with a boilermaker throwing whatever pitches 5 seconds apart or whatever, idk...

brimstead, Friday, 19 March 2021 17:42 (six months ago) link

yeah i remember seeing something science-y about how their muscles/ligaments need a certain number of seconds to recharge or bounce back or whatever

my suggestion is that every time a hitter unvelcros/revelcros a batting glove, it's a called strike

mookieproof, Friday, 19 March 2021 17:47 (six months ago) link

And yes, the strikezone is too high, I don’t know how batters are supposed to hit 98 mph right below the elbow. I realize a lesser strikezone will result in longer games but also, the ball would be in play a bit more, and pitching would be favored in lieu of throwing.

Van Horn Street, Friday, 19 March 2021 19:04 (six months ago) link

I remember someone jokingly suggesting 3 innings with 9 outs apiece and honestly I think it's a great idea

frogbs, Friday, 19 March 2021 19:22 (six months ago) link

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