It has only been four days, but Major League Baseball’s new pace-of-play rules appear to be having a huge impact on games.
In the first 35 games of the season, nine-inning MLB games are averaging two hours, 51 minutes according to Scott Boeck of USA Today. That is a whopping 11 minutes faster than last season when both the first 35 games and the entire season averaged three hours, two minutes per game.
Changes implemented this season include a clock in between innings and a requirement for batters to remain in the batter’s box in between pitches if there was no swing on the previous pitch.
But maybe the biggest impact has come from the mandate for managers to remain in the dugout while deciding whether or not to challenge a play. Last year saw far too many instances where a manager would make a slow walk out to the umpire and then stand there staring back at the dugout waiting for a coach to decide whether a play a needed to be challenged or not.
The 11-minute decrease in time is similar to the decrease seen in the Arizona Fall League, where an even more extensive version of these pace of play rules shortened games by an average of ten minutes.
Of course, the new rules have not been without its hiccups. Players are creatures of habit and they occasionally forget the rules. This has led to some entertaining moments, such as Adrian Beltre suddenly remembering he was supposed to be in the batter’s box.
Even David Ortiz, who vowed to ignore the rule and risked facing more than $US400,000 in fines, has been staying in the batter’s box.
He is still making his adjustments, but now he is doing it in the box — a pleasant change for every non-Red Sox fan who has sat through an at bat of the player formerly known as “the human rain delay.”
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