MLB Considers Changes to Pace of Play

By Andrew Garcia (Sports Correspondent)

Major League Baseball has been steadily losing younger fans and is contemplating ways to make games shorter and more exciting. Instituting a pitch clock, further limiting mound visits and making intentional walks automatic are all on the table.

The league is also considering shortening the regular season from 162 to 154 games. But some experts say it isn’t going to happen.  

Baseball games are more than 20 minutes longer than the average NHL game and 40 minutes longer than the average NBA game. Shortening the length of  games which run on average over three hours is more likely to happen than shortening the season.

Boston Globe reporter and Red Sox beat reporter, Peter Abraham, says that shortening the season is fine with him but he doubts it will happen because the players and owners wouldn’t want to give up the money. “I personally think a 154-game season would be fine. But I doubt it ever happens. The owners and players aren’t giving up the money that eight games would cost them,” he said.

Abraham says that if local TV contracts are losing 8 games of broadcasting NESN will lose revenue. “If NESN loses eight Red Sox games, for instance, they have to find (and pay for) roughly 40 hours of programming when you consider pre and post-game shows. That is expensive.”

Sporting News writer Joseph Rivera says that the MLB would welcome a 154 game season, but again, money is an issue. He says that other insiders and executives are saying the same thing. “It’s a lot about money. There’s more money to be had over the course of a longer season, but I’m sure executives and other insiders feel that baseball is currently a long enough season, especially with playoffs stretching into November.”

Abraham says that the game doesn’t need to be shortened to fewer than nine innings. “I don’t believe games need to be shorter than nine innings, but they need to be played in a more efficient way.”

He also says that games could be played more efficiently if pitchers pitch the ball more quickly, “It really comes down to making pitchers throw the ball in a timely fashion,” said Abraham.

Rivera says that the fans would welcome a shortened season especially when the playoffs finish every year in November. “I think a shorter season would be welcomed by fans, especially if it guarantees a late October finish every year.”

Boston Globe sportswriter Nick Cafardo says that he doesn’t want the MLB to shorten the regular season because stats are a huge part of baseball history. “I’d be totally against reducing the schedule. It would alter stats and stats are a huge part of baseball history.”

Mr. Cafardo says MLB won’t reduce the number of games because the owners wouldn’t want to have four fewer home games. “That’s a lot of money that they would give up,” he added.

Cafardo also said that even if the season were shortened, the number of fans coming to the games wouldn’t increase,” Having fewer games won’t make people watch more games,”he said.

Cafardo says that there are ways to shorten the times of the games. “They should have umps just make the instant replay calls on the field instead of getting New York involved. They make the call when to review the play as they do in the NBA.”

But Cafardo says that he doesn’t like pitch clocks and they (the MLB) should “get rid of them.” “I don’t like pitch clocks. I don’t want to see a clock anywhere near the ballpark,”said Cafardo.

Boston Globe sports columnist and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, Dan Shaughnessy disagrees with Cafardo and says that the MLB should enforce the pitch clock on pitchers. “Enforcing the pitch clock, and limiting the number of visits catchers can make to the mound will make the game go faster and would help keep younger fans interested,” he said.

Shaughnessey also says that cutting time between innings will help make games go faster. “Cut one commercial between innings and try to keep games around 2:30-2:45,” he said.

Abraham agrees and says that MLB could shorten games by restricting mound visits and by minimizing pitching changes.  “You could restrict how many pitching changes there can be in one inning which would limit the number of trips to the mound,” said Abraham.

Abraham says another way to make games faster is to keep the the batters in the batter’s box “Hitters need to stay in the box during their at-bat, a rule that is not enforced,” he said.

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