Major League Baseball announced rule changes for the 2015 season intended to speed up the game. Under criticism from younger fans that major league games are “too long and boring,” major league baseball has been considering different solutions for some time.
Ultimately, they decided against the polarizing pitch clock, which would have allowed pitchers a set amount of time between pitches. MLB did, however, institute some form of clock. This clock will put a limit on how long pitchers can take to warm up between innings. In addition, the power that be decided that hitters can no longer take a pitch, step out of the box, and adjust their batting gloves, helmet, shoes, and seemingly everything else that’s adjustable (Just as a quick aside, if these rules are broken, a player receives a warning and then a $500 fine for a second infraction. This is pretty laughable considering that some major leaguers could pay off an average person’s student loans by taking strike one).
The rule changes haven’t been met by too much controversy (yet). This is likely due to the fact that many spectators were expecting the pitch clock. That being said, as soon as a player gets rung up after not being ready for a pitch, they’re not going to like it, and neither are the fans of his team. And that’s okay. It’s going to take some time to break certain habits. But MLB is certainly headed in the right direction with these rule changes; there’s no doubt about that.
Hopefully these rule changes will accomplish their goal of making the game faster. After all, they really aren’t all that drastic and shouldn’t cause too much of an uproar. However, precisely because these changes aren’t very drastic, I’m skeptical as to how much of an effect they’ll actually have on game speed. Again, I hope they’ll work. But if they don’t, to the ire of so-called baseball “purists” everywhere, the league needs to bring in pitch clocks.
Baseball was the first sport I played as a kid, and even since I stopped playing, I never stopped loving the game. Many of my friends in high school weren’t as enthusiastic about baseball as I was, and even thought I tried taking them to games and getting them to watch games on T.V., it was always too “boring” or there was “just no action going on.” Despite their lack of interest, I still continued to watch baseball and go to games. There’s just something hypnotic about it; something that makes it fun to watch even though it is, admittedly, not as action-packed as the NFL or NBA.
When talk of speeding up the game began to float around, I didn’t like it at all. I thought it would mess up the game I loved; change it in a way that would make it a totally different experience.
But as time has gone on, I’ve realized that that’s selfish of me. While I would have absolutely no problem watching a four-hour marathon of a baseball game, I've come to accept that a sizable portion of people just aren’t like that. Some people just can’t pay attention when the game is going so slowly.
If the game of baseball had to be so slow in order to be correct, obviously it would be wrong to speed it up. However, much of what bogs the game down is completely unnecessary. It really shouldn't take a pitcher more than 30 seconds between pitches. Hitters shouldn't have to adjust their gloves after taking ball 2. It shouldn't take more than 2 minutes to review a play, even if it’s close. Put simply, there’s a lot of fluff that can be cut out while still leaving the same beloved game intact.
Even though I personally feel that when it comes to baseball game length longer is better, I’m not in any way a “better fan” than someone who loves the game but can’t watch such a huge amount of nothing happening. The bottom line is that by speeding up the game, baseball can bring in more fans, and more fans are always better.
I love baseball, I love watching baseball, and I love going to baseball games. It really is a sort of transcendent experience that can’t be experienced in any other sport. A few seconds between pitches won’t change that, and if some of those seconds have to potential to bring in new fans—both young and old—it’s something that needs to be done.