MLB institutes new pace of play rules for 2018 Doug Gray February 19, 2018 38 Comments Major League Baseball believes it’s got a pace of play problem. Maybe they do. The biggest discussion over the offseason was whether or not the MLBPA and MLB could agree on a pitch clock. Well, they did not. But, there were several rules changes announced. The big rule involves mound visits. This comes down in two parts. The first is that teams are limited to six non-pitching change mound visits per game. That also includes visits by the catcher or by infielders. If the game goes into extra innings, a team gets one additional non-pitching change visit per inning. Now to the second parts of the rule: If you are out of mound visits, but the catcher and pitcher are clearly crossed up, then the umpire can allow a mound visit if he so chooses. These situations also do not count as a mound visit: When a player goes to the mound to clean their cleats in rainy/wet conditions An injury visit by the trainer Visits to the mound after the announcement of an offensive substitution Here’s where it gets fun: There is no penalty, so-to-speak, for a 7th mound visit. Essentially, the umpire will just say no, you can’t do that. Teams are going to find ways to try and get around this rule. It will be interesting to see how, exactly, they go about it. They have also set time between innings limits. In locally televised games there is a 2:05 break during the regular season. In nationally televised games that jumps up to 2:25. For playoff games that jumps again to 2:55. At the end of the day, I think this is all for show. It’s not going to change the pace of play on most nights. It’s not going to speed up the game. The pace of play, and speed of the game itself isn’t some thing that can be fixed with little tweaks like this. In a game built around pitchers that strike guys out at a high rate, and batters trying to be patient, the game is going to be difficult to speed up. You can make differences on the margins with stuff like what’s been adopted here, but what are we really talking here? The saving of 45 seconds on an average game? This all just seems like change for change sake. Maybe I’m wrong and we will see a real change coming in terms of how quickly games go by. But, I doubt it. 38 Responses Slice February 19, 2018 The beauty of baseball is there’s no clock. Millennials are killing this country. DHud February 19, 2018 Get off my lawn MuddyCleats February 19, 2018 Nice, and I agree. Speeding up the game 30 minutes isn’t going to make people who don’t really like the sport like it more. Reality is those types show up for the promotions and leave early anyway. I am not sure MLB can save it? Times changes and fewer young people R playing baseball or any sport for that matter. Soccer is the easiest sport to play and be a “productive” team member and I think that’s the draw? Baseball is a game of failure that takes hard work to improve and because of that, a polar opposite to the millennial crowd’s life view. Doug Gray February 19, 2018 Every previous generation has been killing this country since it was founded. And each generation that said it about the next one was wrong, just like the one before it. Baseball is great because there’s no clock. But the game isn’t the same as it was when you were 10 and it’s got nothing to do with millennials and everything to do with the skillset in the game of baseball. Doug Mcmenamin February 19, 2018 Doug you are so right. I have been following Reds baseball since 1959 and I remember my Grandfather telling me kids my age didn’t appreciate true baseball lol. My daughter is 22 here in Dallas and she knows the game as well as any of her guy friends. Baseball is just fine without a clock and one reason among others is that pitchers take more time is because one mistake pitch will get them yanked now with the greater reliance on bullpens. MuddyCleats February 19, 2018 Yea, I tend 2 agree w/ 1st pt; I try not to be too literal here. But Millennials do have a much different life view that has been centered on the “everyone gets equal playing time” and “everyone gets at least a participation trophy” crowd. You can find a study on just about anything, but take it from this PE teacher’s perspective: kids today just don’t seem to have the same gusto for sports I/we had as a kid. They have so many more entertainment options than we/I did. It’s why U see every ML sport w/ some kind of “get out and play” campaign directed at kids. Several good studies by Aspen Institute on this. IMO, BB is a great game because of the game w/in the game; the clock has little to do w/ it if U R into it! A true BB fan understands why the Mgr replaced the LH RP who didn’t throw a pitch to counter the RHH PH that came to the plate in the 7th inning of a 2-1 game w/ one out and a runner on 2nd. Of course the RP could have IW the PH, when they still had to do that, before bringing in the other pitcher, but that’s what Real BB fans talk about while the new pitcher is coming and warming up. Many casual fans (to include Millennials) are ready gone or leaving to beat the crowd! They never thought about weather the Mgr should have used the RHH PH in the 7th or saved him for later on etc…..the game w/in the game! DHud February 19, 2018 MuddyCleats who gave millennials all those participation trophies? I don’t think little Johnny drove to the trophy store and bought a box of medals with his lunch money MK February 19, 2018 Not anymore. AirborneJayJay February 19, 2018 The commercials in between innings is the first place to start. The funny thing is that it takes as long, or longer, to play the last 3 innings as it does to play the first 6 innings. The dealy tactics used to get a bullpen arm up an ready needs to be addressed. However the things already introduced and used did not help reduce game times. Will these really help? Or make the game more cumbersome? I am getting on the latter. IndyRedsFan February 19, 2018 We need “The Sean Casey Rule”. Only one adjustment to batting gloves during an at-bat. After 1, each additional one is an automatic strike. Colorado Red February 19, 2018 Indy, You just hit the nail on the head. 100% correct AirborneJayJay February 19, 2018 I’ve always called it the Johnny Gomes rule. But Casey precedes Gomes. Gomes would step out re-adjust each batting glove Velcro strap and then his helmet would get a couple of tugs. After every pitch. Optimist February 19, 2018 Plate ump needs to repeat “play ball” throughout the game. Batter not ready, throw the pitch for a strike; pitcher stalling, silent 5 count and call a ball. Manager cannot argue balls and strikes, correct? victor vollhardt February 19, 2018 Mr. Gray’s take is right on—and if this is the end of this foolishness for this year then great, but everyone needs to know how the commissioner looks at this point.He needs to stay in New York and answer the phone,file papers and other jobs like that. MLB does not need games(that count)overseas , changing of rules (for any reason). In order to go forward (and yes it will still attract young people) baseball needs to get rid of some of the recent changes that they have made. and that includes calls made/changed by people who not even at the field of play.. The beautiful, pure game of baseball will still attract and stir passion in the hearts of fans young and old if only the guys in suits go away and this includes many media people and broadcasters. If these comments qualify as a “Get Off My Lawn” type of comment–so be it— as “My Lawn” is between two white foul lines. Kevin D February 19, 2018 The Reds have had their share of people the last few years who can’t stay in the box. You don’t need to adjust your batting glove, your belt, your “private” parts every pitch. Get in the box and hit !!! watch the language RED THUNDER February 19, 2018 Sorry I read this article so slowly, Doug. I had to adjust my sun glasses, the gold chain around my neck, make sure gloves tight on wrists, get a little pine-tar, and oh yes spit. Nothing about the hitters delaying the game? When I go to games I don’t care if they last all day. Someone else probably has a different view. Optimist February 19, 2018 Not that long ago: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN197705040.shtml Colorado Red February 19, 2018 another game the same day. Wednesday, May 4, 1977 Attendance: 20,719 Venue: Riverfront Stadium Game Duration: 2:26 Night Game, on turf 20 total hits. 20 hits today would take 3:30 more or less sultanofswaff February 19, 2018 Reducing the number of timeouts at the end of the game did wonders to improve the NBA experience. The game is much more exciting now. The mound visits by the catcher in the playoffs were completely over the top. I applaud any measures to speed up the pace which involves eliminating strategy sessions during the game. That speaks to preparation……if you’re not prepared for a scenario, tough cookies. Placing replay videos in the dugouts will help eliminate many challenges. All good stuff….. Tripe Face Boogie February 19, 2018 OK, at the risk of offending some of you, I offer this tidbit: I’m old enough to still hate the Yankees from their 1961 crushing of my beloved Reds. And, the fact that there is no clock is one of the endearing things about baseball. However, when I was growing up, the games lasted between 2 hrs. – 2 1/2 hrs. (some were less than 2 hours!). Not the silly 3 – 4 hours plus of today. Tom Browning had it correct, work fast. It keeps the audience and your fielders on their toes. And, since I’m already screaming at you to get off the lawn, another irritation that I have is starting World Series games so late. What kid can stay up to 1am to watch much less us old guys?!? This is how you lose fans. Just my thoughts – I could be wrong (but I’m not). Doug Gray February 19, 2018 You can work fast all you want….. But guys aren’t swinging like they did in 1991. You are going to need the entire function of a plate appearance to change to get back to shorter games. Pitchers can’t just throw it over the plate at 87 mph anymore and think “my defense will make a play”. Hitters also aren’t content with just making contact. They want to make hard contact. Which means not just swinging at anything you can get your bat on, but getting a good swing on. Either you need to convince pitchers to try and perform worse, or hitters to try and perform worse. Otherwise, at bats are going to be longer and drawn out. LeRoy February 19, 2018 I agree that the number of pitches per game have gone up over the years maybe causing games to be longer. But the number of pitching changes seem to be more than in the past 60 years or so. Each change takes over 2 min each. I have seen many games that 3 or more changes have taken place in one inning. Does anyone know what effect pitching changes have made over the years. MK February 19, 2018 Maybe umpires need to use the actual strikezone including pitch at letters. MuddyCleats February 19, 2018 Agree, but is MLB willing to fine and suspend Bryce Harper and the many other pompous overpaid stars when they throw their temper tantrum over a called strike 3? It certainly would be one way to make them swing the bats! Doug Gray February 20, 2018 Bryce Harper is massively underpaid. As are most Major Leaguers. You need to go take a look at how little of the baseball revenues that the players are getting. MK February 19, 2018 How will revenue decrease with less time for commercials and shorter time to buy beer between innings? Doug Gray February 20, 2018 Beer is not changing revenue at all. Fewer tv commercials, though – that’s a game changer, and it’s why we won’t really see much of a change there. Expect to see more “in game” ads moving forward. NCRedFan February 19, 2018 The invention of the DVR is a beautiful thing. Start the game about 40 minutes in and you usually have about a 2 hour game. The Duke February 20, 2018 Can’t watch recorded sports. Just can’t do it. Not the same. Colorado Red February 20, 2018 100% agree. Jim Delaney February 19, 2018 I think this rule may speed up the game a couple of minutes during the regular season but I think it will definitely speed up playoff games… The YANKEES especially with their DH hiding as a Catcher Gary Sanchez… He was out to the mound on every other pitch it seemed in the playoffs… The pitchers seemed to want to tell him verbally what they were throwing and wear…. I think a key way to SPEED up the game is a DRASTIC change but it’s to limit the overall number of pitchers in a NON extra inning game…. Limit the number to 4 pitchers, that brings a lot of strategy back into the dugout and makes Managers more accountable and takes away some of the managing interference from the over analyzed and stats oriented front offices that is going on today. I am also for limited shifts to infields being required to have at least 2 players on each side of infield and on the DIRT, not to be placed in the outfield grass. This would bring up more in game strategy as well and not following the same spray charts that each teams share… Advance scouting would become important again!!! Colorado Red February 20, 2018 YUK, You do not want to fundamentally mess up the game. Wes February 19, 2018 Martinez to Boston. That makes Bradley jr somewhat available. I just don’t see him being that big of an upgrade over billy and not really worth the price tag of a Robert Stephenson. But if reds liked him and offered bob Steve- I’d jump all over that if I’m redsox Colorado Red February 19, 2018 Again as you said not much of an upgrade. My question to the smart ones here, is how is his D compared to billy. Jasonp February 19, 2018 So I have some ideas for baseball. I don’t think the length of the game is the problem. If the game is 10 mins or 30 mins faster I don’t think that is going to get new fans interested in baseball. So what I think is that there needs to be interactions or information that people can access from their phones. So if I watch a game on TV or listen to it on the Radio I get to hear people talking about baseball during the times where the game action isn’t happening. You hear about how players are doing. How well they have done recently or against who they are facing. You get stories about current players or ones in the past. If something noteworthy happened in the game you get told about it or someone goes and gets that information for you as the game is going on. At the game you don’t get the extra information or hear about the stories being told. So my suggestion is that extra information or stories could be looked up on your phone as the game goes on. So the times where action isn’t happening you can get extra baseball experiences from your phone. Also have some interactive games going on. Everyone can pick which chili the baseball is under. Everyone can do Red’s trivia during the game. Everyone can vote on what car wins the race. Contests to compete with everyone there or just a group. Trivia or some kind of fantasy game based on the current game. I am just old enough to not be using my phone for much other then to call people but so many other can’t seem to put it down. So maybe these ideas could help some people enjoy the game more or want to go to a game they wouldn’t have. Jon Ryker February 20, 2018 I think it’s more like an introduction to starting new habits. People will play faster when they are used to doing so….this starts that whole process. Ultimately, the pitch clock will do it. Billy February 20, 2018 As Doug has pointed out, the skill set in baseball has changed, and that’s what is driving the change in time of game. One way to counteract that – a way that will draw lots of scorn, but also makes lots of sense – is to change the rules such that 3 balls is a walk and 2 strikes is a strikeout. Many would argue that it would affect the integrity of the game. It may. At the same time, many at bats go to a 1-1 count, and this is essentially the same thing. It would speed the game up. It would also reduce the number of pitches thrown by pitchers, allowing your best pitchers to work deeper into games. Not a popular change, but I think it would be a good one. Michael B. Green February 20, 2018 So it sounds like a team could use all 6 mound visits at once just to make a point? If Adrian Beltre getting kicked out of a game for moving the on deck circle sets an example, I can see some of these items leading to conflicts between the players and umps. Hopefully not though. What MLB should focus on is the number of instant replays. That slows down the game considerably. There are instances when it is very valuable but there are instances that just slow down the game. A good manager knows that if his pitcher is struggling – and baseball is about momentum – either slowing it down or speeding it up – then he can just challenge a play that is fairly close and you slow a rally. Frequent mound visits, etc., are all designed to slow momentum and quiet a pitcher. Replays can also have the effect of taking a pitcher out of their rhythm. The players get this and that is why they are reluctant to just agree and abide. Instead, they look to handle those things in a collective bargaining agreement where you can perhaps involve a quid pro quo. Part of the greatness of baseball is that it balances tradition and change. Jackie Robinson was a break from “tradition” and the world saw positive change. At the same time, the diamond dimensions remain the same. Other items remain in symmetry. Baseball even finds a way to separate radical change by allowing the DH in just one of the two leagues (should not exist at all in my opinion). That recognizes change and tradition and makes baseball unique. Analytics will continue to dominate this game and studying statistics on profits and enjoyable experiences at the ballpark are no different. In the end though, it is about balance? Would electronic umpires, time limits, etc., help make for a more efficient game? Perhaps. Does it mess with the tradition of the game? Perhaps as well. The ratio of 4 balls to 3 strikes – with foul balls perhaps swinging that ratio – seems appropriate. Changing it affects the ratios but it also changes the game. How do you measure Ted Williams AVG on a 3-1 count to modern day players if there is no longer such a thing as a 3-1 count? How many more guys would Nolan Ryan walked if it were based on 3 balls? Change in baseball is good but it should, in most cases, address society. More black managers is positive change. Changing balls and strikes so that the game seems more fast-paced liked football is without substance. Putting netting up to protect fans may help people. Taking 4.5 minutes to see if the SS was still on 2B when he completed a DP, is a waste of time and takes away from the art of the game.