Ever since the invention of the Internet, Americans have become more and more impatient with just about everything in this world, from standing in line to phone reception.
That impatience has finally spread to the purest of American pastimes – baseball.
The average baseball game in 2018 took over three hours to complete a nine inning game, decreasing only five minutes from the 2017 season.
At the beginning of the 2017 season, several new rules were implemented in an attempt to help speed up the game and create a fast-paced atmosphere similar to other sports.
The reason for speeding up the game is a feeble attempt to attract more viewers, resulting in more profits for the MLB. Essentially, it is an attempt to become more like the NFL which is known to be the most profitable of the major professional sports and also one, if not the, most popular sports nationwide.
One of the new rules being enforced is that the pitcher has a time limit in between innings before he throws the first pitch. They are given more time during national and playoff games: but only because those commercial slots are worth more money, not because the player necessarily deserves it.
The pitcher is also not guaranteed eight warm up pitches anymore, along with a limit of six mound visits per team.
One of the biggest factors that determines the speed of the game is the pitchers strike-to-ball ratio.
All of these rules and regulations are aimed at the pitcher: the most important player on the field. The pitcher is the only player guaranteed to touch the baseball every single play, so what he does affects every single play.
If the league really wanted to speed up the game, they would not rush the pitcher onto the field and limit his time to get ready. They should allow him as much time as he wants to prepare so that when the inning actually starts, he is more likely to throw strikes. This would limit walks and long counts which make the game drag.
The MLB has definitely shifted its marketing to focus more on offense than defense in recent years because casual viewers are more interested in home runs and 10-run games. However, it cannot be forgotten that without the pitcher to throw the baseball, the hitter can’t hit it and therefore should be given the same opportunities to prepare.
Undoubtedly, the league could have gone a different direction in their attempt to shorten the game. They could put a limit on how many times each team’s batters can step out of the batter’s box when the pitcher is set to throw. It is something that happens at almost every bat, at least 54 times a game.
One of those rules involved instant replays. All of the instant replay challenges slow the game down considerably as well, but this is actually a good rule change for the game.
What is puzzling is if the league is willing make a good rule change that will slow down the game, why would they make so many bad changes to speed up the game?
They have even started showing short commercials in between pitches, ruining the flow of the game and aggravating viewers.
Discussing money, the MLB is not starving to death by any means. In this past off-season, Giancarlo Stanton, outfielder and designated hitter for the New York Yankees, just signed the biggest contract in league history for $325 million over 13 years.
In 2000, Alex Rodriguez signed a 10 year contract worth $252 million. At the time, this was the largest contract in sports history, not just baseball. In only 18 years, the highest paid athlete’s contract has gone up by over $70 million.
Stanton is just one of many monstrous contracts signed in recent memory, indicating that if the players’ salaries keep going up, would profits not go up as well?
It also begs the question of if the MLB has gone this far, what will it take for them to stop here? What will the game of baseball look like in years to come? Surely there are sports fans out there that do not possess the patience or understanding of the game to sit through a three hour game that is in no hurry to wrap up. But real baseball fans will all agree, the game of baseball is a simple one and it has been that way for over 100 years. It does not fit into today’s mold of commerciality and marketing, and is in no hurry to end when it is convenient for the viewers.
For the MLB to compete with the NFL is ill advised. True fans love baseball for what it is: don’t try and change into something it is not.
The MLB is not running out of money as it would have you believe, but it soon will be if it continues to change and complicate America’s oldest, and simplest game.