For years, baseball fans have complained about how long an average baseball game lasts: around three hours and two minutes in 2014. Their complaints have been reconciled.
In his first year as MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred is doing his best to speed up the game. Manfred announced on Friday that significant changes are being made to speed up the pace of an average baseball game. These moves hope to accelerate the instant-replay process and decrease the average game time.
The new rules changes will require hitters to keep one foot in the batter’s box at all times, establish a time limit for breaks between innings and speed up the process of challenging a call during the game.
The rule changes will be implemented during spring training and the MLB will evaluate the results after the season.
“The most fundamental starting point for improving the pace of the average game involves getting into and out of breaks seamlessly,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a news release. “In addition, the batter’s box rule will help speed up a basic action of the game.”
Another element added to the rule change is the installation of timers on the outfield scoreboards and behind home plate. Immediately following the last out of a half inning, the timer will count down from two minutes and 25 seconds for locally televised games and two minutes and 45 seconds for national games. The next hitter is expected to be in the batter’s box with 20 seconds left on the clock.
There will obviously be some exceptions to these rules, including if the pitcher or the catcher were the last out of the inning or on base. These rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system but no fines or warnings will be granted during spring training or April 2015.
Another component to the rule change is that managers will no longer have to walk on the field to issue an instant replay challenge. The manager may make the call from the top-step in the dugout.
"After a year of just going out there and biding time and having friendly conversations with an umpire, I think we got tired of going through that whole charade," Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I used to take my time going out there. To just get to the top step of the dugout and hold play for a second and then get the replay, which takes about 10 or 12 seconds, I think that's all good. I think it's all for the betterment of the game.
One rule that is not in place yet is the 20-second pitch clock, where pitchers would only have 20 seconds between deliveries. No plans have scheduled this rule change in the majors but it was implemented in the Arizona Fall League last year and will be utilized in Double-A and Triple-A in the upcoming season.
Hopefully Manfred’s rule changes will speed up the game and eventually make baseball America’s sport again.