Red Sox launch study on pace of play at the request of Bud Selig

soxhop411

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The Boston Red Sox spent last winter basking in the afterglow of their World Seriesvictory. They also spent some of it pondering a couple of questions: Why do their games take so long? And what should Major League Baseball do about it?
At the request of commissioner Bud Selig, the perennially slow-paced Red Sox formed a committee of seven team executives to study the issue and recommend changes for the league as a whole. A volunteer corps of 30 front-office staffers spent over 350 hours combing through video of Boston's 2013 regular-season games, charting every little drag on the pace of play.
The Red Sox, whose games averaged an MLB-high 3 hours 15 minutes in 2013, are only about halfway done with the project. But the fact that such a committee even exists shows how little progress MLB has made in its attempts to speed up the game.
"This is one of the most critical issues facing baseball as we move forward into the next three, five, seven years," Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy said.
Selig has expressed concern about the pace of play for years. It has become almost cliché for fans to grumble about hitters stepping out of the batter's box, pitchers pacing around the mound and—no, not another pitching change! But for all of the attention the issue has received, the speed of the game continues to reach new lows.
Entering Thursday, the average game time this season was 3:08, according to Stats LLC. Never mind comparisons to the days of flannel jerseys and black-and-white telecasts: That is 13 minutes longer than the average time in 2010.
But length isn't so much of an issue as pace. In 2004, when home runs were abundant and baseball's pace was hardly considered blistering, fans saw a pitch thrown once every 35 seconds. In 2014, it is one pitch every 38 seconds. If that sounds like a small difference, multiply three seconds by the more than 700,000 pitches thrown in a typical season.
[…..]
The only real question is whether anyone in baseball is willing press for the kinds of dramatic changes in rules and enforcement that will make the game move faster than this generation of players is comfortable with.
 

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Other then being more strict on stall tactics (batter going out of the box after every pitch, pitcher going off the mound multiple times an inning, etc) I cant think of any thing else they can do to speed up the game
 

Rasputin

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It's not hard.
 
Enforce the pitch clock. Don't let batters step out. Done deal. Jesus people, it's not that complicated.
 
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Rasputin said:
It's not hard.
 
Enforce the pitch clock. Don't let batters step out. Done deal. Jesus people, it's not that complicated.
this
 
Why do you need a committee of 7?
 
Perennially slow-paced = patient hitters, good hitters, opposing teams need to make pitching subs, and they play BS and Maddon 38 friggin times a year.
 

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How about coming up with a replay system that isn't totally illogical and takes twice as long as necessary?
 

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"The Red Sox, whose games averaged an MLB-high 3 hours 15 minutes in 2013, are only about halfway done with the project."
 
Maybe they should launch a study on why this project is taking so long.
 

scottyno

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Do the sox see more pitches per game than most teams, because that would be a simple reason why there games would take longer, and also one that can't be solved without arbitrarily shrinking the strikezone.
 
I assume they do but couldn't find any team data from last year, just individual with a bunch of sox pretty close to the top and Napoli #1 overall in the AL.
 

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scottyno said:
Do the sox see more pitches per game than most teams, because that would be a simple reason why there games would take longer, and also one that can't be solved without arbitrarily shrinking the strikezone.
 
I assume they do but couldn't find any team data from last year, just individual with a bunch of sox pretty close to the top and Napoli #1 overall in the AL.
 
Yes they see more pitches, and yes that's why their games take longer in general, but I don't think shrinking the strike zone is the answer so much as expanding it.  Or more accurately, calling it as it's described in the rule book (pits to knees rather than belt to knees).  Give the pitchers a bigger target to hit for strikes will force players to expand their zone and take more swings as well.
 
Not that I think the overall team strategy of grinding at bats and getting into bullpens should be taken away.  But if they're looking for ways to speed up the game, that is one possible idea.  Enforcing the clock on pitchers and not allowing hitters to fully step out of the box so often would shave minutes off game times as well.
 

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The answer is seven inning games. Whether or not baseball wants to continue to nibble around the edges or actually shorten games remains to be seen. Long and slow games are terrible. Baseball is terrible to watch on TV. With a job, kids, and what not - I fell asleep during Red Sox World Series games. An unthinkable sin just a few years ago. A baseball game that started at 7 and ended at 9 or 9:15 - yes please. 
 
How many regular season full games do people on this site watch in a season on TV? I'm talking first pitch to last out. I'm down to about 1. I watch 2 or 3 innings of many games. 
 
Does anyone really want more hours of shitty middling relievers? Who yearns to watch the Rheal Cormier's of the world throw mop up innings? Give me a complete game from the Kershaws and Lesters of the world. 
 

scottyno

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Red(s)HawksFan said:
 
Yes they see more pitches, and yes that's why their games take longer in general, but I don't think shrinking the strike zone is the answer so much as expanding it.  Or more accurately, calling it as it's described in the rule book (pits to knees rather than belt to knees).  Give the pitchers a bigger target to hit for strikes will force players to expand their zone and take more swings as well.
 
Not that I think the overall team strategy of grinding at bats and getting into bullpens should be taken away.  But if they're looking for ways to speed up the game, that is one possible idea.  Enforcing the clock on pitchers and not allowing hitters to fully step out of the box so often would shave minutes off game times as well.
I'm stupid, meant expanding it, you're right
 

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Frank Castillo said:
"The Red Sox, [/size]whose games averaged an MLB-high 3 hours 15 minutes in 2013, are only about halfway done with the project."[/size]
 
Maybe they should launch a study on why this project is taking so long.[/size]
Write 3 words, get up from desk, stretch. Adjust belt, crack knuckles. Sit back down, write 3 words. Stand up....

In all seriousness, if they're going to look at one of the slowest teams, (especially when it seems like a good offense would account for being slow) I'd hope they would look at one of the quicker ones for comparison.
 

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JGray38 said:
Write 3 words, get up from desk, stretch. Adjust belt, crack knuckles. Sit back down, write 3 words. Stand up....

In all seriousness, if they're going to look at one of the slowest teams, (especially when it seems like a good offense would account for being slow) I'd hope they would look at one of the quicker ones for comparison.
Having a good offense is undoubtedly going to increase the average length of a team's games, but there is a way we can remove the effect of additional plate appearances and pitches seen. Pitch F/X timestamps every pitch thrown and Fangraphs.com tracks time between pitches of a single plate appearance. The Red Sox have one of the slowest paces of play for both pitchers and batters.

2013 team hitting
2013 team pitching
 

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Trautwein's Degree said:
The answer is seven inning games. Whether or not baseball wants to continue to nibble around the edges or actually shorten games remains to be seen. Long and slow games are terrible. Baseball is terrible to watch on TV. With a job, kids, and what not - I fell asleep during Red Sox World Series games. An unthinkable sin just a few years ago. A baseball game that started at 7 and ended at 9 or 9:15 - yes please. 
 
How many regular season full games do people on this site watch in a season on TV? I'm talking first pitch to last out. I'm down to about 1. I watch 2 or 3 innings of many games. 
 
Does anyone really want more hours of shitty middling relievers? Who yearns to watch the Rheal Cormier's of the world throw mop up innings? Give me a complete game from the Kershaws and Lesters of the world.
Fewer innings, less TV and radio ad revenue. Fox and ESPN have long term and very high cost deals in place not to mention all the individual team's broadcast partners. I would think they would have a say or be in a position to renegotiate downward since they didn't sign up for 7 innings worth of ad potential. You then have the owners looking to offset that revenue loss through many possible ways. Three off the top of my head:

1 - Increase ticket prices - ya, sign me up for higher prices and less innings.
2 - Owners cut back on payroll to offset the lower revenue. MLBPA doesn't want to see that start happening.
3 - Owners ask to cut roster size to eliminate one or two players since you don't need as many crappy middle relievers or perhaps you cut back on the number of starters since they only have to go say 5 innings. See MLBPA above.

It's much easier to tell Papi not to step out and spit on his gloves after every frigging pitch.
 

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Trautwein's Degree said:
The answer is seven inning games. Whether or not baseball wants to continue to nibble around the edges or actually shorten games remains to be seen. Long and slow games are terrible. Baseball is terrible to watch on TV. With a job, kids, and what not - I fell asleep during Red Sox World Series games. An unthinkable sin just a few years ago. A baseball game that started at 7 and ended at 9 or 9:15 - yes please. 
 
How many regular season full games do people on this site watch in a season on TV? I'm talking first pitch to last out. I'm down to about 1. I watch 2 or 3 innings of many games. 
 
Does anyone really want more hours of shitty middling relievers? Who yearns to watch the Rheal Cormier's of the world throw mop up innings? Give me a complete game from the Kershaws and Lesters of the world. 
 
No, the answer isn't seven inning games. What the hell is wrong with you? If you think baseball is terrible to watch on TV, stop watching it on TV. The last time I watched every out of less than 150 games a year was over twenty fucking years ago. Yes, I watched almost every inning of almost every game in 2012.
 
If a game ends at 9:15 what the hell am I going to do for the rest of the night?
 

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Allow a manager one trip to the mound a game. No pitching coach chats or catcher conferences. Pitching changes done from the dugout and are timed. Allowed to step out of the box once per at bat. Enforce time between pitches.
 

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There's only 2 places to look: time between pitches and time between innings.

Buehrle games are fast, all because of the way he pitches.

Knock 30 seconds off between innings and you save at least 9 minutes, if you also get rid of the God Bless America bullshit.

Everything else is fucking with the game too much.
 

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When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds of receiving the ball. 
It's rule 8.04. All that needs doing is to enforce the goddamn rule. Don't let batters step out every single time. Don't let pitchers take forever to throw the pitch. Just enforce the goddamn rule that is already on the goddamn books.
 

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One other area - bullshit that goes on with warming pitchers.. Maybe they need to look at visits to the mound. Call a ball if it's over a certain time limit, or limit the number of visits by fielders, coaches and managers.

There are some legitimate reasons for mound conferences, but there's a shitlload of fake ones.

Also, would it make sense to limit the number of warm ups a reliever gets after he enters the game? What's the big difference between bullpen mounds and field mounds?

By the way, I don't think games are too long, except for the singing between innings bit.
 

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geoduck no quahog said:
Also, would it make sense to limit the number of warm ups a reliever gets after he enters the game? What's the big difference between bullpen mounds and field mounds?

By the way, I don't think games are too long, except for the singing between innings bit.
 
Isn't there already a limit of five? Come to think of it, when I was looking up rule 8.04 I think I saw something about a one minute limit.
 
If they were singing Beatles songs, I wouldn't mind.
 

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geoduck no quahog said:
There's only 2 places to look: time between pitches and time between innings.

Buehrle games are fast, all because of the way he pitches.

Knock 30 seconds off between innings and you save at least 9 minutes, if you also get rid of the God Bless America bullshit.

Everything else is fucking with the game too much.
Shortening games by nine minutes doesn't even return MLB back to its 2010 game lengths, yet incurs a cost of cutting revenue. Games have increased in length over the past few years, but advertising inventory has remained the same. What's fucking with the game is the increasing span of time between pitches.
 

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Domer said:
Shortening games by nine minutes doesn't even return MLB back to its 2010 game lengths, yet incurs a cost of cutting revenue. Games have increased in length over the past few years, but advertising inventory has remained the same. What's fucking with the game is the increasing span of time between pitches.
 
Fuck 2010 games. Make the games compelling and nobody is going to give a shit how long they are.
 

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Rasputin said:
 
When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds of receiving the ball. 
It's rule 8.04. All that needs doing is to enforce the goddamn rule. Don't let batters step out every single time. Don't let pitchers take forever to throw the pitch. Just enforce the goddamn rule that is already on the goddamn books.
 
 
Yup, this isn't hard. Institute a shotclock-esque system to enforce 8.04 so the umpire doesn't have to count to 12 on his own because that's at least 2 too many and say the batter can only step out once per PA, which would reset the clock.
 

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Manzivino said:
 
Yup, this isn't hard. Institute a shotclock-esque system to enforce 8.04 so the umpire doesn't have to count to 12 on his own because that's at least 2 too many and say the batter can only step out once per PA, which would reset the clock.
 
Expand it to 15 seconds with the bases empty, 30 with someone on, and unwrite a rule that it doesn't apply in close situations late in games.
 

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geoduck no quahog said:
Also, would it make sense to limit the number of warm ups a reliever gets after he enters the game? What's the big difference between bullpen mounds and field mounds?
 
They are limited. And no, MLB does not send out a "mound mold" so that all mounds in all ballparks are created equal.
 
I'll bet Mariano's bullpen mound was as close to the field mound as the Yankee Stadium grounds crew could humanly make it. If you think they expended that effort in the visitor's bullpen, you need to listen to Ronan Tynan The Irish Tenor sing his 15 minute version of God Bless America.
 

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Rasputin said:
 
When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds of receiving the ball. 
It's rule 8.04. All that needs doing is to enforce the goddamn rule. Don't let batters step out every single time. Don't let pitchers take forever to throw the pitch. Just enforce the goddamn rule that is already on the goddamn books.
 
 
Hold on there.
 
 

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Rudy Pemberton said:
2 strikes for a strikeout, 5 balls for a walk, two outs an inning, 7 innings. Boom, problem solved.
 
 
HriniakPosterChild said:
 
Or you could let the teams select a single player and they could shoot a round of darts.
 
Make every game a home run derby.  Fun *and* efficient!
 

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The NFL is the most popular thing ever, and an average NFL game takes 3 hours and 10 minutes and consists of only 11 minutes of actual action. Baseball is fine. People who complain that baseball games take too long really just don't like baseball, and wouldn't like it any more if the game took 20 minutes less.
 
I do admit that some pitchers make games kind of brutal to watch. And I understand there's the 12-second rule, but it has (I think rightly) never been enforced because baseball has never been a game that was ever held to any kind of a clock. And that is part of the beauty of it.
 
But I think dreadfully slow-working pitchers are probably the one thing that is worth trying to eliminate. But don't put a shot clock in the stadium, or have umpires try to enforce every pitch somehow. That's a terrible idea. Just fine the worst offenders -- say, any pitcher who takes >45 seconds more than 10 times a game, or something like that. And keep increasing the fine for multiple offenders. That way the game can slow down in moments of tension, or if the pitcher needs to gather himself a few times, but it would force pitchers with consistently bad habits to change them.
 

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Stop all the mound visits and useless kibitzing out there. Only the catcher, the pitching coach, or the manager can visit the mound AND each of their visits all count equally. If the catcher visits the mound, that's a visit, so when the manger then comes out that's immediately the second visit and the pitching change is mandatory.
 

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Trautwein's Degree said:
The answer is seven inning games. Whether or not baseball wants to continue to nibble around the edges or actually shorten games remains to be seen. Long and slow games are terrible. Baseball is terrible to watch on TV. With a job, kids, and what not - I fell asleep during Red Sox World Series games. An unthinkable sin just a few years ago. A baseball game that started at 7 and ended at 9 or 9:15 - yes please. 
 
How many regular season full games do people on this site watch in a season on TV? I'm talking first pitch to last out. I'm down to about 1. I watch 2 or 3 innings of many games. 
 
Does anyone really want more hours of shitty middling relievers? Who yearns to watch the Rheal Cormier's of the world throw mop up innings? Give me a complete game from the Kershaws and Lesters of the world. 
I fall asleep during NFL games.  That doesn't mean the NFL sucks, it means I'm not a big football fan.
 
I probably watch about 70 full games a year; it'd be more but I'm often not home until partway through the game, so I frequently have to listen to the first few innings and only get to watch the end of the game.  Plus weekday day games where I'm stuck listening to the whole thing.
 

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Rasputin said:
 
Fuck 2010 games. Make the games compelling and nobody is going to give a shit how long they are.
 
Ahhh, a new suggestion.  Can you expand on this?
 
Enforce the time limit on pitches, and no one leaves the batters box unless there's an injury of some sort. 
 

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Harry Hooper said:
Stop all the mound visits and useless kibitzing out there. Only the catcher, the pitching coach, or the manager can visit the mound AND each of their visits all count equally. If the catcher visits the mound, that's a visit, so when the manger then comes out that's immediately the second visit and the pitching change is mandatory.
I like this idea. But I wonder if limiting catcher trips to the mound would result in more shaking off pitches and so really require enforcement of the pitch clock. I also think the idea of enforcing it via a post game fine, the way golf penalizes slow play, and making it based on some number of times exceeding the limit would be great. Though I imagine the fines would have to be negotiated with the players union.

You can also do other things that would be fine:

Intentional walks just take the base immediately. Skip throwing the four balls or sometimes the one or two when a manager decides to walk someone mid at bat. The once a decade a batter reaches out and hits one or the pitcher throws a wild pitch isn't worth the aggravation.

When the manager makes the second trip to the mound, the signal must be made immediately for the reliever and that reliever must proceed expeditiously to the mound. Bring back the golf carts to get them there faster if necessary. The buggy the Sox had in the 70s was cool.
 

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I think 90% of the problems in game length are due to the batters stepping out of the box incessantly, AND the pitchers taking forever between pitches. Eliminate those two issues with two quick steps: 1) after the batter steps into the box, he's not allowed to leave it and time will not be granted, and 2) enforce the 12 second pitch rule.
 
This would remove all the dead space in the game and causes the natural tension to seep out of it. It would tighten up the game times while not removing strategy and keeping the games more interesting.
 
The mound visits, the catchers talking to the pitchers, those issues can be addressed later. But keep the batters in the box and most of this disappears.
 

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Smiling Joe Hesketh said:
I think 90% of the problems in game length are due to the batters stepping out of the box incessantly, AND the pitchers taking forever between pitches. Eliminate those two issues with two quick steps: 1) after the batter steps into the box, he's not allowed to leave it and time will not be granted, and 2) enforce the 12 second pitch rule.
 
This would remove all the dead space in the game and causes the natural tension to seep out of it. It would tighten up the game times while not removing strategy and keeping the games more interesting.
 
The mound visits, the catchers talking to the pitchers, those issues can be addressed later. But keep the batters in the box and most of this disappears.
 
 
This. I dont know about 12 seconds. That's something that can be resolved through discussions with players to come up with a reasonable number.  What's the average now? (sorry, I should probably be able to find it) Even shaving 5 seconds off of every pitch saves about 20 minutes in a 250-pitch game.  "Making it faster" is not the same as "making it as fast as possible."
 

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Noah said:
But I think dreadfully slow-working pitchers are probably the one thing that is worth trying to eliminate. But don't put a shot clock in the stadium, or have umpires try to enforce every pitch somehow. That's a terrible idea. Just fine the worst offenders -- say, any pitcher who takes >45 seconds more than 10 times a game, or something like that. And keep increasing the fine for multiple offenders. That way the game can slow down in moments of tension, or if the pitcher needs to gather himself a few times, but it would force pitchers with consistently bad habits to change them.
They do this now and pitchers don't care. Papelbon has been fined multiple times: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4445223
 
Maybe they could fine them more but how far do you go with that? And the union wouldn't be pleased. 
 
Maybe someone making the minimum will pay attention but a Beckett making $16m isn't going to get out of his routine until it effects the play on the field.  They slow the game down because they think it helps them pitch better and they're willing to pay a bit to do so.
 

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The 12 seconds is in the rulebooks now.  With no runners on, if the pitcher doesnt throw a pitch within 12 seconds of receiving the ball a Ball is supposed to be awared to the batter.  Similarly, if the bases are not occupied and the batter steps out of the box after a pitch that was not swung at, a Strike is supposed to be added to the count.
 

threecy

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Do the Red Sox really care about game length though?  Presumably a longer home game means more time to sell concessions at Fenway, whilst longer games in general probably mean better ratings for NESN (as compared to having to fill another 30 minutes with non-game programming).
 

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Plympton91 said:
I like this idea. But I wonder if limiting catcher trips to the mound would result in more shaking off pitches and so really require enforcement of the pitch clock. I also think the idea of enforcing it via a post game fine, the way golf penalizes slow play, and making it based on some number of times exceeding the limit would be great. Though I imagine the fines would have to be negotiated with the players union.

You can also do other things that would be fine:

Intentional walks just take the base immediately. Skip throwing the four balls or sometimes the one or two when a manager decides to walk someone mid at bat. The once a decade a batter reaches out and hits one or the pitcher throws a wild pitch isn't worth the aggravation.

When the manager makes the second trip to the mound, the signal must be made immediately for the reliever and that reliever must proceed expeditiously to the mound. Bring back the golf carts to get them there faster if necessary. The buggy the Sox had in the 70s was cool.
 
This is already the case.  Watch the manager leave the dugout, he taps the arm within 3 steps of leaving the top step.  Been like that a few years.  The cart is currently parked just inside of Gate A.
 
threecy said:
Do the Red Sox really care about game length though?  Presumably a longer home game means more time to sell concessions at Fenway, whilst longer games in general probably mean better ratings for NESN (as compared to having to fill another 30 minutes with non-game programming).
 
They do sell more concessions, but they also have to pay overtime to the ushers, security, Cops on detail, etc, etc, etc.  I don't know what the deal is with Aramark in terms of percentage of concession revenue the team gets, but I doubt this figures at all into their profit calculations, either in budgeting or in being able to see the marginal difference in the results.
 

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Smiling Joe Hesketh said:
 1) after the batter steps into the box, he's not allowed to leave it and time will not be granted,
 
I disagree. There are times when a batter should be able to leave the box, such as if he's hurt, gets something in his eye, etc.  Also, if a pitcher is holding the ball for too long I think the batter should be able to call time.  They shouldn't be forced to stand in place while the pitcher shakes off multiple signs and can't get his shit together.  It can definitely impact the batter's rhythm, focus, or whatever.  I think the main culprits here are the pitchers and umps, not the batters.
 

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OfTheCarmen said:
The 12 seconds is in the rulebooks now.  With no runners on, if the pitcher doesnt throw a pitch within 12 seconds of receiving the ball a Ball is supposed to be awared to the batter.  Similarly, if the bases are not occupied and the batter steps out of the box after a pitch that was not swung at, a Strike is supposed to be added to the count.
 
Your phrasing here is a little confusing.  There's no automatic strike for stepping out, but there is for refusing to step in once directed to do so by the ump.  If you step out without being granted time, the pitcher can deliver a free pitch and have it called a ball or strike.
 
6.02 (b) The batter shall not leave his position in the batter’s box after the pitcher comes to Set Position, or starts his windup.
PENALTY: If the pitcher pitches, the umpire shall call “Ball” or “Strike,” as the case may be.
...
(c) If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter’s box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball and strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out.
 
 
glennhoffmania said:
 
I disagree. There are times when a batter should be able to leave the box, such as if he's hurt, gets something in his eye, etc.  Also, if a pitcher is holding the ball for too long I think the batter should be able to call time.  They shouldn't be forced to stand in place while the pitcher shakes off multiple signs and can't get his shit together.  It can definitely impact the batter's rhythm, focus, or whatever.  I think the main culprits here are the pitchers and umps, not the batters.
 
The rules already account for all your scenarios, they just need to be enforced.
 
Pitcher delays, from the comment to 6.02(b): "If pitcher delays once the batter is in his box and the umpire feels that the delay is not justified he may allow the batter to step out of the box momentarily."
 
And they explicitly reject the something-in-my-eye excuse: "Umpires will not call “Time” at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims “dust in his eyes,” “steamed glasses,” “didn’t get the sign” or for any other cause."
 
Hurt players are another rule, the ump can always grant time for them (even during a live play).
 
 
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Also since it's been referenced but not quoted, the pitch clock rule:
 
8.04 When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”
 
The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball. The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.
 
Simply enforcing these rules as written would eliminate a lot of dead time without drastically altering game play or reducing the number of commercials.
 

Smiling Joe Hesketh

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glennhoffmania said:
 
I disagree. There are times when a batter should be able to leave the box, such as if he's hurt, gets something in his eye, etc.  Also, if a pitcher is holding the ball for too long I think the batter should be able to call time.  They shouldn't be forced to stand in place while the pitcher shakes off multiple signs and can't get his shit together.  It can definitely impact the batter's rhythm, focus, or whatever.  I think the main culprits here are the pitchers and umps, not the batters.
 
I should have added the obvious caveat/exception that time will be called under such circumstances.
 
If the pitcher holds the ball too long then a ball will be automatically called just like the rule says, so the batter has no need to step out of the box.
 

glennhoffmania

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SumnerH said:
 

 
The rules already account for all your scenarios, they just need to be enforced.
 
Pitcher delays, from the comment to 6.02(b): "If pitcher delays once the batter is in his box and the umpire feels that the delay is not justified he may allow the batter to step out of the box momentarily."
 
And they explicitly reject the something-in-my-eye excuse: "Umpires will not call “Time” at the request of the batter or any member of his team once the pitcher has started his windup or has come to a set position even though the batter claims “dust in his eyes,” “steamed glasses,” “didn’t get the sign” or for any other cause."
 
Hurt players are another rule, the ump can always grant time for them (even during a live play).

 
 
Right, and that's why I didn't agree with SJH's blanket prohibition on batters being granted time but he clarified his point in his next post.  The windup/set position exceptions are pretty clear and are almost always enforced.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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How about getting rid of "God Bless America"  at Der Stade Fasciste in the 7th inning?  Really, I think the Star-Spangled Banner gives Hiroki Kuroda and Alfonso Soriano ample opportunity to express their love for the U.S. of A. every game day.
 
Yeah, I wouldn't mind losing "Sweet Caroline" either -- but I think that takes place during the normal inter-inning commercial time and doesn't affect the length of the game.
 
bz
 

JakeRae

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Smiling Joe Hesketh said:
I think 90% of the problems in game length are due to the batters stepping out of the box incessantly, AND the pitchers taking forever between pitches. Eliminate those two issues with two quick steps: 1) after the batter steps into the box, he's not allowed to leave it and time will not be granted, and 2) enforce the 12 second pitch rule.
 
This would remove all the dead space in the game and causes the natural tension to seep out of it. It would tighten up the game times while not removing strategy and keeping the games more interesting.
 
The mound visits, the catchers talking to the pitchers, those issues can be addressed later. But keep the batters in the box and most of this disappears.
I'd modify this to allow one batter time call per at bat. This allows for the use of it for a legitimate reason but disincents ever using it illegitimately since doing so prevents future uses.

With that modification, I think this still solves the problem. Have the 2B ump actually time the pitcher when no one is on (for enforcement of the 12 second rule). The 2B ump has literally nothing else to do when there are no baserunners.
 

Infield Infidel

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JakeRae said:
I'd modify this to allow one batter time call per at bat. This allows for the use of it for a legitimate reason but disincents ever using it illegitimately since doing so prevents future uses.

With that modification, I think this still solves the problem. Have the 2B ump actually time the pitcher when no one is on (for enforcement of the 12 second rule). The 2B ump has literally nothing else to do when there are no baserunners.
 
Yup. If no one is on base:
 
Batter: One time out/step out per at bat, enforce the strike rule if they step out a second time
Pitcher/Catcher: One time out/step off per at bat, and enforce the 12 second rule with an automatic ball, and an automatic walk if they do it twice
 
With men on base, the umpire should attempt to enforce the same rules but it's at his discretion. 
 
I watched my first minor league game in years in April, and guys were stepping out often. They didn't do anything to speed it up either.
 

OfTheCarmen

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@Sumnerh - Thanks for the clarification.  I was working off a reading from the beginning of the season and I either misread it at the time or simply misremembered.