On the clock

Baseball tries to reinvent itself

Jacob Steinberg, Sports Columnist

Baseball, America’s pastime. Yet it has fallen out of favor with many Americans over the past 30 years.

In 1985, football passed baseball as the top sport among Americans, 24 percent compared to 23 percent for baseball. Football has since expanded its popularity, as 33 percent of Americans say that football is their favorite sport. Baseball is at 15 percent, as taken in The Harris Poll in 2015.

As times change and generations pass, baseball has stayed the same. There have been only four major rule changes over the past 42 years.

Changes such as replay, the Posey Rule (blocking the plate when a runner is trying to cross), the slide rule in which the runner must make an attempt to remain on base, and the no pitch intentional walk. These rules are not the problem with baseball. The problem with baseball is speeding up the process of the game

The average Major League Baseball game lasts about 3 hours and 5 minutes. The pace of the game is one of the many issues that baseball is facing today. As the games get longer, the less eyes watch the game, as boredom ensues. There needs to be changes to the way the game is played, and it starts with the pace of play. The Arizona Fall League, a league owned and operated by Major League Baseball, experimented with rules to help hasten the pace of the game. It was successful, as games were completed with an average time of 2 hours and 42 minutes. It was close to the 1970’s, as the average time of games was around two and a half hours. Rules such as the pitch clock, which limits time between pitches to 20 seconds, the two minutes and 30 second inning and pitching change break, and three timeouts per game such as a mound visit helped speed up the pace of the game.

The pitch clock was the most effective rule. The experiment was tried in the Minor Leagues starting in 2015. It led to a time reduction of 12 minutes, as the Majors increased by 3 minutes.

In the statistics website Fangraphs, the average time between pitches in 2010 was 21.5 seconds. However, the number has increased every season since. In 2014, the time increased to 23 seconds. An increase by 1.5 seconds does not sound like much, but it is a pretty significant amount of increased time considering the nearly 300 pitches thrown

For now, the need is to enforce a rule that reduces the amount of time between pitches. By doing that, the game will be played at a faster pace, and games will be finished at a reasonable length. It will also ensure that a larger portion of the game will consist of more meaningful action.

These rules could re-invent the game, revive the fading enthusiasm of Americans, and help the game grow bigger than ever.