Jump to content

Motor City Sonics

How can we speed up these games?

Recommended Posts

These major league playoff games take entirely too long and often games end at Midnight or later, even in 9 innings.    I think this is very bad for the game.   My dad was stretching it to let me stay up till 10 to watch games in the 1970s.     That's where my love of baseball was developed - the 1975 World Series............epic series.............The Yankees-Dodgers battles,  Reggie's 3 home runs,  Chris Chambliss beating the Royals and having to knock down fans so he could run the bases.       How many kids are missing out on this?    Baseball already struggles with it's natural pacing and I don't want to see anything too radical.     I think the intentional walk thing was silly and I don't know if there is a stat to see how much time it saves.    I think a lot has to do with relief pitching and it's much more prominent role but it's also the broadcasts.  

What are some of your suggestions - What could be done reasonably to speed things up without radically changing the game?   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The big one is pitching changes...they went from 3+ per game for both teams in the 1970's to 6+ per game for both teams now.  Each pitching change takes from 7-10 minutes, I believe, which would be worth about 20 - 30 extra minutes vs. 40 years ago. 

You could probably shave 5-10 minutes per game off the pitching change time in two ways:

- require players/pitchers to be in the dugout in order to be eligible to enter the game (except in cases of injury)...reducing the reliever's walking distance would probably save 30 - 60 seconds per change, or about 3 - 5 minutes/game.

- warmup tosses for pitching changes would be cut in half.  Assuming about 7-10 seconds per toss (between the setup, throw, and return toss), and 8 tosses/change, that would save another 30 - 60 seconds per change, or about 3 - 5 minutes/game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a grocery list:

1. Ironclad strict enforcement of the 20-second pitch clock. Deliver in 20 seconds or it's a ball.

2. Allow each batter only one 10-second 'recess' per at bat to step out to adjust gloves, practice their swings, scratch their junk, etc etc.  Umpires may also grant time-out at their discretion for obvious equipment problems (broken bats, etc etc) but requests involving untied shoes or un-velcroe'd batting gloves will normally be denied.

3. Ditto for pitchers. One 10-second 'recess' or mini-timeout per batter.

4. Allow defensive teams (pitcher-catcher) one 30-second infield conference per inning.

5. Coaching visits to mound are limited to 60 seconds after the coach/manager leaves the dugout to when he must leave the mound and return to dugout, or call for a pitching change. The 30 seconds of the team defensive conference (see #4) may be added if the team has not previously used it.

6. After the manager calls for pitching change the new pitcher has 30 seconds to throw his first warmup pitch.

7. Incoming pitchers have 60 seconds warmup time. Throw as many or as few warmup pitches as you want within that 60 seconds. At the 60 second mark a buzzer goes off and the 20-second pitch clock starts.

8. On any mid-inning pitching changes, the incoming pitcher comes in with a 2-0 count on the batter. IMO that would pretty much eliminate the one-batter situational platoon pitching changes (a 2-0 count would effectively completely eliminate the platoon edge) and strongly influence managers to make pitching changes between innings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd be more draconian:

1. Only 3 visits to mound by catchers or managers or infielders for any reason per game. We don't allow coaches to just wander onto the field and talk to the QB anytime they feel like it.

2. Only one (or two) mid-inning pitching changes per game.

3. To TJ's point #2 and #3, I'd allow only 5 such recesses per team per game.

4. Start games at 8pm sharp, the way the NFL usually does.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a very good article on the state of the game and fits this thread perfectly. Writers are Brian Costa and Jared Diamond. This article appeared in the October 3, 2017 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The owners of America’s baseball teams, gathered at a Houston hotel last year, werre discussing once again how their games had become so plodding. This time, however, the explanation was different.

Two Major League Baseball officials and a statistician told the group that the sport was being brought to a standstill by the very phenomenon that has revolutionized it in recent years—the embrace of data analytics to drive strategy.

Baseball has never been more beset by inaction. Games this season saw an average gap of 3 minutes, 48 seconds between balls in play, an all-time high. There were more pitcher substitutions than ever, the most time between pitches on record and longer games than ever.

A confluence of hitting, pitching and defensive strategies spawned by the league’s “Moneyball” revolution have all played a role. That makes baseball, whose early use of big-data strategies was embraced by the business world in general, a case study in its unintended consequences.

“The sport is going down a path that is a byproduct of very smart people figuring out the best strategies to win,” says San Francisco Giants Chief Executive Larry Baer. “It’s up to the owners to say, ‘What’s the impact on the consumers that are watching?’ ”

For now, as the postseason begins, there is little economic incentive for owners to change. MLB remains buoyed by a combination of lucrative, long-term television-rights agreements and taxpayer-funded stadiums. League revenues exceeded $10 billion in 2016, a record. Attendance remains strong, with regular-season games drawing around 30,000 fans on average.

The issue is where MLB is headed. Baseball’s television audience, the oldest among major North American professional sports, had a median age of 57 in 2016, according to a study of Nielsen data by the ad-buying agency Magna Global. That age, which has remained about the same in 2017, is up from a median of 52 in 2006.

 

Only 7% of baseball viewers were between the ages of 2 and 17, according to the study, which puts MLB closer to horse racing (5%) than to professional basketball (11%).

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney says television audience isn’t the sole measure of the league’s future health, since such audiences tend to skew older. He points to a recent uptick in youth baseball participation, after a long-running decline, and the popularity of MLB’s mobile app, which is opened more than eight million times a day.

Even optimists in the industry agree that youth interest and pace of play are related to one another and central to MLB’s future. The long-term concern is that baseball teams, which rely on ticket revenue for a larger portion of overall income than other pro team sports, could eventually have difficulty filling the seats in their stadiums.

The league is considering installing a pitch clock in 2018 to penalize pitchers who take too long to throw the ball, among other measures.

“We all want to shorten the game and make it more appealing,” says Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. “We want baseball to be popular with generations to come. We absolutely care.”

The use of analytics, which has increased dramatically since the early 2000s, is one of baseball’s most acclaimed developments. Team front offices, once the domain of ex-players, are more commonly staffed with Ivy League graduates. Data science has become an integral part of many teams’ decision-making. Top executives have landed seats on corporate boards and given paid speeches to business groups.

The search for competitive edges in a growing trove of information has also resulted in the kind of game MLB didn’t intend to create.

On July 30, the Tampa Bay Rays took 3 hours, 51 minutes to defeat the New York Yankees, 5-3, in nine innings. Six times, the game was halted in the middle of an inning for a pitching change. There were more strikeouts and walks than balls in play, which came about once every 5 minutes, 47 seconds.

Statistics showing precisely when starting pitchers become less effective have prompted teams to remove them from games earlier than before. That has increased one of the biggest drags on pace of play: pitching changes. Regular-season games this year saw an average of 8.4 pitchers used between both teams, an all-time high. That’s up from 5.8 pitchers a game 30 years ago.

Moreover, the pitchers being added are the slowest: The average reliever takes 1.5 seconds longer between each pitch than the average starter. Though most measures of pace of play have been kept for decades, pitch-tracking cameras have enabled more detailed analysis for about the past 10 years.

Analytics, in promoting strikeouts as an optimal outcome, have extended the battle between pitcher and hitter. Teams increasingly value pitchers who can generate swings and misses, because other kinds of outs require varying degrees of good defense and good fortune. Strikeout levels have reached record highs for 10 years in a row.

Pitchers “are not allowing you to put the ball in play as much as they used to,” says Yankees third baseman Chase Headley. “That’s a huge change.”

Hitters aren’t as interested in routine ground-ball hits, either, a trend driven in part by two analytic insights. The first was more data on hitters’ tendencies, which prompted teams to position their fielders in extreme ways. That so-called defensive shifting has made a ground ball less promising as a means of reaching base.

The second was a revelation born of a statistic that only recently came into existence—the launch angle. Radar and camera measurements of the angle at which balls leave the bat have shown that the optimal swing angle looks more like an uppercut than many hitters preferred. Hitters, in turn, have started swinging for the fences in droves. Home runs this season reached a record level. That all-or-nothing approach means that between each home run there is a lot of standing around and waiting. Some classic displays of athleticism—a daring attempt by a runner to advance more than one base on a teammate’*****, for instance—have become rarer.

 

"I get excited for those plays, but they are getting lost,” says former major-league pitcher and current TBS broadcast analyst Ron Darling. “There’s a real collective, conservative style of play that doesn’t lend well to the aesthetics of the game.”

More than one-third of all plate appearances this season ended in either a home run, a strikeout or a walk, the most ever. There were around 3.9 pitches thrown per batter, also the highest on record.

Proponents of analytics are unapologetic for the kind of baseball they have helped create. “I wouldn’t call that bad. I would call that progress,” says Billy Beane, the longtime Oakland Athletics executive featured in the 2003 book “Moneyball” and portrayed by Brad Pitt in the 2011 film adaptation. “I just think the game is as good as it’s ever been.”

There are anecdotal signs that even older, avid fans are growing impatient. Shannon Prior, 48 years old, of Morristown, N.J., has written a blog about his favorite team, the New York Mets, since 2008. This year, in addition to watching fewer games, he made a rule. At 10 p.m., typically just short of three hours after the first pitch is thrown, he would stop watching, regardless of the score, which caused him to miss the end of all but a handful of games. He cited the abundance of pitching changes.

-to be continued

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I put the game on and I’m fine,” Mr. Prior says. “Then we get to the fifth or sixth inning and we’re changing pitchers every batter and the game grinds to a complete halt. The game stops.”

Baseball executives don’t expect general managers or field managers to alter their strategies, given that their job is to find the best way to win, irrespective of the impact on the game.

Instead, league officials have looked to the rules of the game for remedies. Earlier this year, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred appointed a 16-member committee comprising owners, team presidents, general managers and field managers to suggest potential changes.

According to one member, the committee has explored a range of possibilities that could diminish some of the impact analytics have had on pace of play. Among the options discussed were a ban on defensive shifts, restrictions on pitching changes and shrinking the strike zone, this person says.

The changes Mr. Manfred is pushing for are less dramatic. In addition to the pitch clock, he said at a recent news conference, MLB is discussing with the players’ union a limit on visits to the pitcher’s mound and shortening breaks between innings. He declined to comment further.

Those tweaks would represent a more conservative approach than some other professional sports leagues have taken. When the National Basketball Association wanted to improve its style of play, it changed its defensive rules. When the National Football League wanted to create more of a highflying spectacle, it added an array of new restrictions on defense.

Even baseball, bound by traditions as it is, lowered the pitcher’s mound in 1969 to boost scoring.

“Other sports are always tinkering with the game to make it more entertaining,” says Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. “We don’t do any of that.”

---End of article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I earnestly suggest my approach, which is the ultimate perfect solution to this dilemma:

Don't watch the games.

I haven't watched a baseball game on TV since the '90s, and any unhappiness I currently experience is for altogether different reasons.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, lordstanley said:

I'd be more draconian:

1. Only 3 visits to mound by catchers or managers or infielders for any reason per game. We don't allow coaches to just wander onto the field and talk to the QB anytime they feel like it.

2. Only one (or two) mid-inning pitching changes per game.

3. To TJ's point #2 and #3, I'd allow only 5 such recesses per team per game.

4. Start games at 8pm sharp, the way the NFL usually does.

 

 

In regards to my #2 and #3 points above, my guess is very few batters would use their 'recess' or 'step-out' until 3-4 pitches into the at-bat (probably preferring to save them until they have a 2-strike count),  meaning many plate appearances would go without them altogether.

In regard to the team defensive conferences, again my guess is many teams would not use them if the pitcher is rolling along doing well -- usually you don't want to break your pitcher's rhythm if he's cruising along,  so you'd save your defensive "huddles" until things really started to get tight.

IMO the most likely effect of limiting or putting severe restrictions on mid-inning pitching changes would be more blowout games -- managers who stick too long with a guy really getting lit up would just leave him in to sink or swim, meaning about once a month or so you'd have guys giving up 10 runs in an inning.

I think giving mid-inning pitching changes a 2-0 count on the first batter is a pretty big gift -- that is going to make the OBP skyrocket for those first batters, so managers would be much more inclined to see if the current pitcher could battle his way through a jam.

Of course if your current pitcher is really getting torched you're going to yank him anyway, but this would throw cold water on the one-batter situational pitching switches which take five minutes to bring a guy in to throw three pitches.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, gzbach said:

I earnestly suggest my approach, which is the ultimate perfect solution to this dilemma:

Don't watch the games.

I haven't watched a baseball game on TV since the '90s, and any unhappiness I currently experience is for altogether different reasons.

 

 

 

We've been total audio for at least five years now. Enjoy the audio with Dan and Jim.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as the idea of banning the shift, I am very strongly opposed: essentially it would be comparable if football had banned all formations except the full-house T formation in the 1940s and basketball banned everything except the low-post 2-3 offense in the 1950s.

I think the shift will have a major vogue for about another 6-8 years, until a full generation or two of players work their way up to the majors having learned to play against it. My gut feeling is in some ways the shifts may be the solution to the dilemma of "one-true-outcome baseball", because the solution to shifts is to strategically abandon the swing-from-the-heels approach for home runs in favor of place hitting to the weak side of the shift: "hitting them where they ain't" as Ty Cobb or Willie Keeler would have told them.

Home runs will dip somewhat and batting averages will rise a bit.

Some of the oldest classic photos of baseball history are of kindly old Connie Mack in his business suit with his scorecard waving his outfielders into position; what was Connie doing except a very early prehistoric version of the shift?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TJ_TJ said:

I have a grocery list:

1. Ironclad strict enforcement of the 20-second pitch clock. Deliver in 20 seconds or it's a ball.

 

A lot of times its not the pitcher. It's the batter adjusting his gloves, digging in, etc. Why does only the pitcher face this issue? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TJ_TJ said:

8. On any mid-inning pitching changes, the incoming pitcher comes in with a 2-0 count on the batter. IMO that would pretty much eliminate the one-batter situational platoon pitching changes (a 2-0 count would effectively completely eliminate the platoon edge) and strongly influence managers to make pitching changes between innings.

 

God, please don't let this come close to happening. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they had to do something one thing Id incorporate a designated size lead you can get off the bases to limit throws over to the bag or pitchers holding the ball/stepping off the mound.

If a runner is fast enough or is good at getting the right jump he could still steal the bag but the pitcher doesn't have to worry about him getting this gigantic lead that prevents his catcher from having any chance of throwing him out.

This wouldn't save a ton of time but if it prevents a half dozen or more throws over to the base it could cut down a few minutes a game and I don't think this rule would have that much of an impact on the outcome of the game.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Keepleyland2 said:

A lot of times its not the pitcher. It's the batter adjusting his gloves, digging in, etc. Why does only the pitcher face this issue? 

The pitcher is the one who ultimately decides when he's going to pitch.

If you, the batter, want to adjust your batting gloves, go right ahead, while the pitcher fires a 95 mph heater down the pipe.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Manager/Pitching Coach gets to go out for one pitching change per inning.  If you already know you are pitching a guy to one lefty or righty you can make the next change from the top step of the dugout.     There's 2 minutes right there

And how about the networks either move the start time to 7:30 or when they say the game is at 8, it starts no later than 8:05?

During mound conferences, injury breaks, show 15 second commercials in the screen in an overlay  - the networks can make a little more money this way and maybe shorten some of the commercial breaks.   I've noticed the NFL doing it.  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, RandyMarsh said:

If they had to do something one thing Id incorporate a designated size lead you can get off the bases to limit throws over to the bag or pitchers holding the ball/stepping off the mound.

If a runner is fast enough or is good at getting the right jump he could still steal the bag but the pitcher doesn't have to worry about him getting this gigantic lead that prevents his catcher from having any chance of throwing him out.

This wouldn't save a ton of time but if it prevents a half dozen or more throws over to the base it could cut down a few minutes a game and I don't think this rule would have that much of an impact on the outcome of the game.  

That used to be a pet peeve of mine but I've kept track the last few years and multiple throws over to first (or any base) are very rare now (as are SB attempts overall), so putting a big penalty on throws to  base would have a very minimal effect on game times.

Putting on an ironclad 20 second pitch clock would end pitchers repeatedly stepping off the slab and the waiting-game stuff of looking runners back to base. You could do that stuff for five seconds maybe, then you better forget it and deliver to the plate.

Sometimes old school traditionalists say, "if you strictly enforce the 20-second pitch count, base stealers will run wild," I say, "oh my gawd, in 2017 MLB teams stole a grand total of 2527 bases, which is an average of exactly 0.519 stolen base per team per game. Dear heaven, we can't have base stealers running wild and stealing more than half a base per game."

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Start playoff games earlier. 6 local time at the earliest and accept that you'll lose some of the prime TV markets in one timezone when you do that. That way they can do their 4 hours and games end at 10 local time.

It'll still be late or early in another timezone, but you have to accept that it's better for the game for that to happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Blue Square Thing said:

Start playoff games earlier. 6 local time at the earliest and accept that you'll lose some of the prime TV markets in one timezone when you do that. That way they can do their 4 hours and games end at 10 local time.

It'll still be late or early in another timezone, but you have to accept that it's better for the game for that to happen.

6:00  local time Pacific is 9:00 Eastern.  As it is the 8:00 games are starting at 5:00 in LA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, TJ_TJ said:

6:00  local time Pacific is 9:00 Eastern.  As it is the 8:00 games are starting at 5:00 in LA.

I was thinking more the other way - 6 EST is 2 PST - people are at work and TV companies won't sell as many adverts.

Personally I think they have to suck it up and accept it, but there you go. I'd like to see earlier starts more frequently during the summer as well - particularly the school holidays. Not all the time, but perhaps a late game, a mid game and an early game in each three-game series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pretty much all the national sports leagues have their championship events on about the same time, 8 p.m. Eastern, because they figure they will keep most of the Eastern time zone audience and keep most of the western time zones in prime time. It's all about prime time teeevee audiences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, sabretooth said:

The big one is pitching changes...they went from 3+ per game for both teams in the 1970's to 6+ per game for both teams now.  Each pitching change takes from 7-10 minutes, I believe, which would be worth about 20 - 30 extra minutes vs. 40 years ago. 

You could probably shave 5-10 minutes per game off the pitching change time in two ways:

- require players/pitchers to be in the dugout in order to be eligible to enter the game (except in cases of injury)...reducing the reliever's walking distance would probably save 30 - 60 seconds per change, or about 3 - 5 minutes/game.

- warmup tosses for pitching changes would be cut in half.  Assuming about 7-10 seconds per toss (between the setup, throw, and return toss), and 8 tosses/change, that would save another 30 - 60 seconds per change, or about 3 - 5 minutes/game.

Your first one is one that I have not heard of before.  I propose bringing the bullpen carts back out of mothballs.  It would speed up the game by warp speeding the RP to the mound.  It is a marketing opportunity.  Win win.  (Or maybe deliver the RP by drone.  Either or).

On the latter, there's no reason to have many pitches from the mound once entering the game.  Have a few tosses for the pitcher to get used to the mound, get a bit of catcher adjustment to the pitcher, and away we go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have posted on this topic at least 5 times over the years, but the biggest offenders relative to 30 years ago are in inning pitching changes and commercial time between innings.

The latter isn't changing and the former is likely only to change with a rule change, which isn't going to happen.

However, if there were to be a set of rules enacted limit in inning pitching changes, I'd propose the following:

 

Teams are allowed one free inside an inning pitching change per game - or - can make a pitching change inside of an inning if a pitcher:

a. is charged a run (earned or unearned) in said inning, or

b. is injured (pitcher is automatically on the DL after the game if this happens).

 

Teams would be allowed to change pitchers between innings as much as they want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×