- Dec 4, 2009
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.
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