Athletic Voice: Speed up MLB

by STEVEN FOWLER

Major League Baseball began in North America some 140 years ago, fans nation-wide flocked from great lengths to see two teams square off on the baseball diamond. The roar of the crowd, stale and greasy hot dogs and an ice-cold beer intrigues the crowd, making fans from all walks of life come together.

Slowly overtime, the average pace of a game dragged longer into the day. Then MLB thought of an idea that startled fans. Modernize “America’s Pastime” by speeding up the game.

The average time to of an  nine-inning game in the 1970s was two hours and 30 minutes. The average increased to 2:57 in the 10-year span from 2000-09, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Playoff games seemed longer. In 2009, a regular-season nine-inning game lasted an average of 2:52, while in the playoffs, that number jumped to 3:30, according to STATS LLC.

“The games have become longer, in part because of good baseball,” said George Will, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of two best-selling books.

Fans of the game, including myself, want to see constant motion on the field rather than wait when timeouts are called.

Before the 2015 regular season began, a lot of fans were critical when they learned about a new set of rules. To name a few, timers are set at 2 minutes, 25 seconds for most games and 2 minutes, 45 seconds for nationally televised games. Play will resume immediately once televised broadcasts returned from commercial breaks.

Batters must keep both legs in the batter’s box, with certain exceptions in place during the at-bat. The batters and pitchers are encouraged to be ready to play with 20 seconds remaining.

As of May 1, players may be fined up to $500 per violation if they do not comply when the clock hits zero.

According to MLB, the rules have cut nearly eight minutes off game time. An average of eight minutes off the clock may not seem like a lot, but it feels like it.

“I think fans understand and appreciate  the fact that there are certain, naturally, never-going-to-be-changed aspects to the game that may not be fast-paced,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN.com. “What I think people were concerned about was things that they saw as not integral to the play of the game, or even the economic setup of the game.”

Baseball is one of my favorite sports but there is mixed emotions about the new pace of play in an MLB game. Why would we want to watch a ball game that is in a hurry to finish? I mean you just arrived and now you’re already thinking about how to get out of the stadium.

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