MLB’s obsession with shortening game times is back again. This time it includes starting runners on second base in extra inning affairs. The idea is detailed in an ESPN article I read. According to the article, the plan would be to have a runner start on second base in the 11th inning of the All Star Game and 10th inning of Spring Training games. There are no plans, as of now, for this to be in effect in the regular season.
The players’ association is reportedly in favor of this because they don’t want to risk injuries during extended games that ultimately don’t count. Are you serious? The max most players play in the All Star Game is about three innings. You aren’t meant to play a full game in Spring Training. Is this really about an increased risk of injury? If you’re really worried about it, put your guys riding the pine in. I mean the games don’t count, right?
If you read the article and you’re like me, you may be nauseous. The amount of rule changes that they’re trying to implement to speed the game up is ridiculous. A mound visit limit, a pitch clock, a between batters clock, a between innings clock, a Mike Matheny firing clock, whoops, too far.
What is up with this obsession for shorter games? Who cares? I know who cares, non-baseball fans. Seriously. Please introduce me to one actual baseball fan that really has a gripe with how long baseball games last. You have a problem with it? Change the channel. Go watch your basketball game that takes half an hour to play the last two minutes. Adam Silver doesn’t give a damn how long games last.
No, this rule wouldn’t be in effect in the regular season. But if it works, you can bet it will at some point. But does this really speed up the game? There’s a great Chicago Tribune article posted last year that documents the problems. According to the article, only 7.6 percent of games in 2016 went into extra innings. That’s 185 out of 2,428 games.
If you are really so enamored by a shorter game, why not look at your prized instant replay? I’m a fan of the instant replay and have no problem with it. What I’m not a fan of is that managers get to step to the edge of the dugout, wait for someone to get on the phone and see if the play is reviewable, then decide if they’d like to challenge or not. That’s terrible.
In the NFL, coaches have from the end of the play to the next snap to throw the challenge flag. They don’t have time to watch the play back, they can’t hold up the game so someone can. Challenging a call on the field should include risk. It should be an impromptu decision. MLB coaches calling for instant replay hardly involves risk, and THAT is what slows a game down.
Pitch clocks and batter clocks may help, but talk about an advantage killer. If a batter is fired up and ready to hit, take a while before you step on the rubber. It gets them angry, it gets in their head, and the pitcher has an advantage. If a pitcher is rolling, step out of the box for a bit. Anger, mind games, batter advantage. Pace-of-play rules are ruining the game of baseball again.
The speed of the game is fine. There doesn’t need to be anymore rule changes, there doesn’t need to be any more clocks. Let the players play the game. You don’t like it, don’t watch it. Go tweet about how boring baseball is. Rant about how delusional baseball fans are. I promise, us baseball fans, we really don’t care.