Why Do Games Take So Long? and Time Between Pitches: Cause of Long Games?

Aug 11, 2019
387

tims4wins

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I would strongly suggest that people read a couple of research papers presented at SABR national conventions in 2018 and 2019 by David W. Smith, founder of Project Retrosheet on Why Do Games Take So Long? and a follow-up, Time Between Pitches: Cause of Long Games?
The latter may change your mind.
Those articles are wrong. I have posted a different article like half a dozen times maybe in the “off field issues” thread but time between pitches is 90% the culprit.
 

tims4wins

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Time between pitches is the primary villain. I tallied up all the pitches in both games that we’ll call inaction pitches — pitches that resulted in a ball, called strike, or swinging strike, but didn’t result in the end of an at-bat or the advancement of a runner. These are the pitches where the catcher caught the ball and threw it back to the pitcher, whose next step was to throw it back to the catcher. Foul balls didn’t count. The fourth ball of a plate appearance didn’t count. Stolen bases didn’t count. Wild pitches didn’t count. Just the pitches where contact wasn’t made, and the pitcher received a return throw from the catcher.

There were 146 inaction pitches in the 1984 game.

There were 144 of these pitches in the 2014 game.

The total time for the inaction pitches in 1984 — the elapsed time between a pitcher releasing one pitch and his release of the next pitch — was 32 minutes and 47 seconds.

The total time for inaction pitches in 2014 was 57 minutes and 41 seconds.

In the 1984 game, there were 70 inaction pitches that were returned to the pitcher and thrown back to the plate within 15 seconds.

In the 2014 game, there were 10.

In the 1984 game, there were 32 balls, called strikes, or swinging strikes that took 20 seconds or more between pitches

In 2014, there were 87 balls, called strikes, or swinging strikes that took 20 seconds or more between pitches.

That’s it. That’s the secret. It isn’t just the commercials. It isn’t just the left-handed pitchers coming in to face one batter, even though that absolutely makes a huge difference in the games when that does happen.

It’s not like every at-bat in the 2014 game was rotten with hitters doing a Nomar Garciaparra impression between pitches, either. It was a marked difference in the modern players doing absolutely nothing of note. The batter taking an extra breath before he steps back in. The pitcher holding the ball for an extra beat.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
There were 146 inaction pitches in the 1984 game.

There were 144 of these pitches in the 2014 game.
That represents two games. Smith's paper, "Why Do Games Take So Long?", covered 110 seasons and his paper, "Time Between Pitches...", covered every MLB game in 2018 except two played in Puerto Rico and three played in Mexico and after discarding the last pitch thrown to each batter, covered 511,728 pitches.
 

tims4wins

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Jul 15, 2005
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That represents two games. Smith's paper, "Why Do Games Take So Long?", covered 110 seasons and his paper, "Time Between Pitches...", covered every MLB game in 2018 except two played in Puerto Rico and three played in Mexico and after discarding the last pitch thrown to each batter, covered 511,728 pitches.
Even with an extra 25 pitches per game on average between the mid 80s and current day, that would only explain an increase of ~12-13 minutes per game, when the length of games is up by like 30 minutes per game. Yes the article I linked was only one game, but it was a virtually identical game.

Beyond that though, the issue isn’t length of game, it’s pace of play. More time between pitches is boring. NFL fans don’t care that games take 3:15 because they get replays etc.
 

loshjott

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Even with an extra 25 pitches per game on average between the mid 80s and current day, that would only explain an increase of ~12-13 minutes per game, when the length of games is up by like 30 minutes per game. Yes the article I linked was only one game, but it was a virtually identical game.

Beyond that though, the issue isn’t length of game, it’s pace of play. More time between pitches is boring. NFL fans don’t care that games take 3:15 because they get replays etc.
Not an NFL fan, I'm guessing?
 

InstaFace

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That represents two games. Smith's paper, "Why Do Games Take So Long?", covered 110 seasons and his paper, "Time Between Pitches...", covered every MLB game in 2018 except two played in Puerto Rico and three played in Mexico and after discarding the last pitch thrown to each batter, covered 511,728 pitches.
If you haven't, you should actually read the SB Nation article. That pair of games was specifically and carefully chosen to eliminate as many confounding variables as possible, since those variables have long made any sort of sensible diagnosis of this situation devolve into noise. Frankly, choosing that specific pair of games was probably the hardest and most time-consuming part of Brisbee's study. Covering all the games merely makes it harder to account for and mitigate those variables. Not all increases in N add value. If the components of the added time in his single pairwise comparison were more mixed, then the natural conclusion would be that we need a bunch more pairwise comparisons with mutual similarities to a similar degree as his first, so that we can get a better statistical understanding of the relative importance of the categories. But they're not. The difference was almost entirely down to that one factor. The scientist in me would like to see another 4-5 pairs, but given the enormous outlier in the one pair of games we do have, I'm comfortable that the analysis is directionally correct.

On page 12 of Smith's paper linked in the OP, he actually cites and discusses Brisbee's study. Where I find Smith's paper weak is that for several factors where he lacks available data to crunch them (including time between pitches, but also including time between innings or visits to the mound), he simply dismisses them, and then concludes "the single biggest factor contributing to the longer games is the number of pitches", without having presented strong evidence for that conclusion. Frankly, I find Brisbee's article more convincing on that topic than Smith, who throws a bunch of MS Excel charts at you and then draws a conclusion that we can't infer.
 
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The Gray Eagle

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In Abraham's Sunday Notes column in the Glob, he mentions a change to Joe Torre is stepping back and there will be new people in charge of operations.
Now I will have new people to blame (in addition to Manfred) for not getting the umps to enforce the existing rules on pace of play: Gregor Blanco, Nick Hundley, and Tall Chris Young.

With 79-year-old Joe Torre stepping back into more of an advisory role, three former players will take on significant responsibilities regarding how the game is played.
Chris Young, who pitched 13 seasons in the majors, was named vice president for on-field operations. Two recently retired players, Gregor Blanco and Nick Hundley, were named senior directors of baseball operations under Young.
Their department oversees the umpires, rules, on-field standards, discipline, and pace of game.
The 40-year-old Young, who played at Princeton, has moved quickly through MLB’s hierarchy to become an influential voice in Manfred’s cabinet.
I mean, theoretically they could find some way to get the umps to speed things up. But I expect that to not happen, because everything Manfred has tried to pick up the pace of games has flopped, and there is never any talk from MLB about enforcing the current rules about 12 seconds between pitches and batters not stepping out of the box.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
...I mean, theoretically they could find some way to get the umps to speed things up. But I expect that to not happen, because everything Manfred has tried to pick up the pace of games has flopped, and there is never any talk from MLB about enforcing the current rules about 12 seconds between pitches and batters not stepping out of the box.
I recently said something about this in another thread but I'll expand upon it a little. They could give a pitcher x seconds to make a pitch. If the batter is not ready, a strike is called. If the batter is ready but the pitcher does not deliver in his allotted time, a ball is called. This has to be automatic and the clock resets after every automatic ball/strike or every pitch. If a batter feels he has to adjust his batting gloves, he can do it during the x seconds or he can take an automatic strike. Likewise, a pitcher can choose an automatic ball. If the situation arises where a batter steps out, claiming something is in his eye, or whatever, the umpire may grant a timeout but if that batter does it again during the same at bat, then he gets replaced. The same would happen if a batter tried that in separate plate appearances (this could be modified to some extent by calling another strike). Similarly, if the pitcher tries to take advantage of time outs, , start adding balls to the count until a certain point when he must be replaced.

While this all sounds like harsh steps to take, I suspect that batters and pitchers will soon adapt and the game could speed up.
 

EnochRoot

lurker
Feb 7, 2020
25
While this all sounds like harsh steps to take, I suspect that batters and pitchers will soon adapt and the game could speed up.
The biggest culprit is the stunning amount of strikeouts and walks that the sport is currently buried underneath. While we're at it, let's do away with launch angles and bring back the contact hitter.

Maybe it's just me, but the best moments in a game are when a hitter hits a line drive into the gap and you're left wondering if the runner is going to score from 1B.
 

The Gray Eagle

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Pardon me for yelling at clouds, but:

Over the past 20 years, most teams have started valuing the Three Slow Outcomes: walks, strikeouts, and homers. It's worked well for the teams that have adopted it, which is now pretty much all of them.

But all three of these outcomes slow things down, either directly or indirectly. None of them even result in a fielder actually doing anything, or any single player running; much less the hitter, baserunners and fielders all sprinting at the same time. Just more standing around, and occasionally a hitter doing some jogging.

This whole offensive approach/defensive counter strategy contributes a lot to the slow pace of games, and even to other issues that fans complain about.

Walks and Ks take a lot of pitches, and with every batter swinging for the fences all the time, pitchers have to nibble a lot more, as if you miss over the heart of the plate, you're a lot more likely to give up a home run than in the past, and less likely to just give up a single.

Most hitters now want to try to lay off pitches that aren't crushable for homers, while most pitchers now throw as hard as they can and try to not miss in the zone, because it's much more damaging now to miss or to throw at less than 100% effort.

It seems like a typical at-bat now goes something like ball, ball, strike, ball, foul, foul-- that can take up to 3 or 4 minutes, and nothing has actually happened.

Compared to baseball of the '70s and 80's, when batters would often swing earlier in the count and swing more for contact, with pitchers working quicker. (It was the style at the time, so they tied onions to their belts!)

So it was more common back then to have quicker at-bats-- a pitch or two, then some action would actually happen. Even if the action was just a routine groundout, at least the game moved along faster, with more actual activity for fans to see.

There's an additional change over the past couple decades that has made games longer and slower that hardly anyone talks about: way more foul balls.

The number of foul balls has increased by 11.98 percent from 1998, when baseball expanded to 30 teams, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of Baseball-Reference.com data. There were almost 14,000 more foul balls last season than there were 20 seasons earlier. In 1998, 26.5 percent of all strikes were foul balls. That share increased to a record 27.9 percent of strikes in 2017 and 27.8 percent last season, the top rates since pitch-level data was first recorded in 1988.

Overall, there were 26,313 more pitches in baseball in 2018 (724,447) than in 1998 (698,134). That’s the equivalent of adding 88 games, or roughly a week, to the schedule.1 A record 3.9 pitches were thrown per plate appearance in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, according to Baseball-Reference.com, up from 3.73 pitches per plate appearance in 2002 and 3.58 in 1988. And about half of the growth in total pitches can be attributed to foul balls.
More fouls means more pitches with no action, at-bats that take longer, and more pitches in general. All generally making things worse. I have no idea what could be done to cut down on the number of fouls. I think it's just an unintended result of the way the game is played now. And getting away from the 3 Slow Outcomes approach could lead to fewer fouls.

The current HR-K-BB emphasis affects everything-- hitting, baserunning, defense and pitching.
When everyone in the lineup is capable of hitting a bomb at any time, pitchers have to pitch differently. They can't afford to pace themselves, and can't afford to miss in the heart of the zone. Teams want pitchers who throw as hard as possible, to get more strikeouts and hopefully be able to get away with less damage when they do miss over the plate. Baserunners don't steal much or take many risks, because it's bad strategy in a power-heavy environment. Since every hitter is swinging for the fences no matter what, defenses can play extreme over-shifts and take away hits.

I think the game would be better, faster paced, and more interesting if there was more of a balance of strategies and ways to win. I'm not talking about going back to the dead-ball 1960s, but finding a way to reward teams that have lineups more balanced with slap hitters and base stealers along with a few big power guys. Home runs are exciting, but so are triples, and stolen bases, and great catches, and runners gunned down at the plate, and suicide squeeze plays.

The Three Slow Outcomes strategy works best in the current state of the game, so teams are not going to change unless there are sound competitive reasons to change. So maybe baseball can come up with some way to incentivize teams that make more contact, swing earlier in the count, and take more risks on the bases. Those things all tend to happen more in an environment where home runs are less frequent. But that's the complete opposite direction that baseball has moved in recent years.

What could be done to move away from the homer-K-BB emphasis, without huge changes, or negative unintended consequences? Who knows. I'd hope that baseball would recognize this and think about it. I'm not encouraged though.

Here are some things I wish they would think about to try to make the game better and more exciting:
Sure seemed like the baseball was "juiced" last year, so maybe stop doing that, okay? Nobody wants a dead ball with no home runs, but going back to a ball like they had a few years ago could lead to a better "balance of power" which could help to positively impact multiple problems that a lot of people complain about: slow pace, little action, extreme shifts, pitchers not throwing deep in games or throwing that many innings, lots of innings pitched by middle relievers, etc.

Maybe think about gradually limiting the number of pitchers a team can carry, so that individual pitchers would have to pitch more innings. You couldn't do this overnight obviously, but doing it gradually, combined with a less lively ball, could lead to pitchers being able to pace themselves, pitch deeper into games, and not get crushed. The best pitchers in the game could throw more innings, and the worst ones less.

Maybe try expanding the strike zone a bit, so working the count is not as helpful, and hitters swing earlier and more often and make more contact.

Obviously, find a way to prevent sign stealing, like a buzzer system that the catcher and fielders could use, so they don't need to give 3 sets of signals on every single pitch.

And like I said before, work with the umpires to get them to enforce the rules already on the books. No stepping out. 12 seconds to pitch. Find a way to get the umps to enforce it.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
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Jul 15, 2005
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Hingham, MA
Pardon me for yelling at clouds, but:

Over the past 20 years, most teams have started valuing the Three Slow Outcomes: walks, strikeouts, and homers. It's worked well for the teams that have adopted it, which is now pretty much all of them.

But all three of these outcomes slow things down, either directly or indirectly. None of them even result in a fielder actually doing anything, or any single player running; much less the hitter, baserunners and fielders all sprinting at the same time. Just more standing around, and occasionally a hitter doing some jogging.

This whole offensive approach/defensive counter strategy contributes a lot to the slow pace of games, and even to other issues that fans complain about.

Walks and Ks take a lot of pitches, and with every batter swinging for the fences all the time, pitchers have to nibble a lot more, as if you miss over the heart of the plate, you're a lot more likely to give up a home run than in the past, and less likely to just give up a single.

Most hitters now want to try to lay off pitches that aren't crushable for homers, while most pitchers now throw as hard as they can and try to not miss in the zone, because it's much more damaging now to miss or to throw at less than 100% effort.

It seems like a typical at-bat now goes something like ball, ball, strike, ball, foul, foul-- that can take up to 3 or 4 minutes, and nothing has actually happened.

Compared to baseball of the '70s and 80's, when batters would often swing earlier in the count and swing more for contact, with pitchers working quicker. (It was the style at the time, so they tied onions to their belts!)

So it was more common back then to have quicker at-bats-- a pitch or two, then some action would actually happen. Even if the action was just a routine groundout, at least the game moved along faster, with more actual activity for fans to see.

There's an additional change over the past couple decades that has made games longer and slower that hardly anyone talks about: way more foul balls.



More fouls means more pitches with no action, at-bats that take longer, and more pitches in general. All generally making things worse. I have no idea what could be done to cut down on the number of fouls. I think it's just an unintended result of the way the game is played now. And getting away from the 3 Slow Outcomes approach could lead to fewer fouls.

The current HR-K-BB emphasis affects everything-- hitting, baserunning, defense and pitching.
When everyone in the lineup is capable of hitting a bomb at any time, pitchers have to pitch differently. They can't afford to pace themselves, and can't afford to miss in the heart of the zone. Teams want pitchers who throw as hard as possible, to get more strikeouts and hopefully be able to get away with less damage when they do miss over the plate. Baserunners don't steal much or take many risks, because it's bad strategy in a power-heavy environment. Since every hitter is swinging for the fences no matter what, defenses can play extreme over-shifts and take away hits.

I think the game would be better, faster paced, and more interesting if there was more of a balance of strategies and ways to win. I'm not talking about going back to the dead-ball 1960s, but finding a way to reward teams that have lineups more balanced with slap hitters and base stealers along with a few big power guys. Home runs are exciting, but so are triples, and stolen bases, and great catches, and runners gunned down at the plate, and suicide squeeze plays.

The Three Slow Outcomes strategy works best in the current state of the game, so teams are not going to change unless there are sound competitive reasons to change. So maybe baseball can come up with some way to incentivize teams that make more contact, swing earlier in the count, and take more risks on the bases. Those things all tend to happen more in an environment where home runs are less frequent. But that's the complete opposite direction that baseball has moved in recent years.

What could be done to move away from the homer-K-BB emphasis, without huge changes, or negative unintended consequences? Who knows. I'd hope that baseball would recognize this and think about it. I'm not encouraged though.

Here are some things I wish they would think about to try to make the game better and more exciting:
Sure seemed like the baseball was "juiced" last year, so maybe stop doing that, okay? Nobody wants a dead ball with no home runs, but going back to a ball like they had a few years ago could lead to a better "balance of power" which could help to positively impact multiple problems that a lot of people complain about: slow pace, little action, extreme shifts, pitchers not throwing deep in games or throwing that many innings, lots of innings pitched by middle relievers, etc.

Maybe think about gradually limiting the number of pitchers a team can carry, so that individual pitchers would have to pitch more innings. You couldn't do this overnight obviously, but doing it gradually, combined with a less lively ball, could lead to pitchers being able to pace themselves, pitch deeper into games, and not get crushed. The best pitchers in the game could throw more innings, and the worst ones less.

Maybe try expanding the strike zone a bit, so working the count is not as helpful, and hitters swing earlier and more often and make more contact.

Obviously, find a way to prevent sign stealing, like a buzzer system that the catcher and fielders could use, so they don't need to give 3 sets of signals on every single pitch.

And like I said before, work with the umpires to get them to enforce the rules already on the books. No stepping out. 12 seconds to pitch. Find a way to get the umps to enforce it.
26K pitches sounds like a lot but it’s over nearly 5K games. That is an extra 5 pitches per game. At 40 seconds per pitch that adds a little over 3 minutes to each game. So no, the number of pitches is not the problem. The problem is pace of play, which may have to do with sign stealing, but likely has other causes as well. It’s not the commercials, foul balls, walks, homers, strikeouts, or pitching changes. It’s the pace of fucking play.
 

EnochRoot

lurker
Feb 7, 2020
25
26K pitches sounds like a lot but it’s over nearly 5K games. That is an extra 5 pitches per game. At 40 seconds per pitch that adds a little over 3 minutes to each game. So no, the number of pitches is not the problem. The problem is pace of play, which may have to do with sign stealing, but likely has other causes as well. It’s not the commercials, foul balls, walks, homers, strikeouts, or pitching changes. It’s the pace of fucking play.
you can swear all you want, but the pace of play is compounded (read: made worse) by the stunning lack of action record breaking strikeouts, walks, and actually, home runs create.
 

tims4wins

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you can swear all you want, but the pace of play is compounded (read: made worse) by the stunning lack of action record breaking strikeouts, walks, and actually, home runs create.
Why do those things affect how quickly each pitch is thrown?
 

jon abbey

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I really think effective electronic communication between pitcher/catcher of what pitch to throw will fix the pacing issues almost immediately, the sooner the better IMO.
 

Rough Carrigan

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26K pitches sounds like a lot but it’s over nearly 5K games. That is an extra 5 pitches per game. At 40 seconds per pitch that adds a little over 3 minutes to each game. So no, the number of pitches is not the problem. The problem is pace of play, which may have to do with sign stealing, but likely has other causes as well. It’s not the commercials, foul balls, walks, homers, strikeouts, or pitching changes. It’s the pace of fucking play.
I agree.
But I think Grey Eagle has a point in that being a team promoting three true outcomes promotes this. I don't think it's just because there are more walks and K's. I think the whole have your offense control the strike zone and promote three true outcomes mode of hitting subtly promotes time between pitches.
 

Rough Carrigan

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Pardon me for yelling at clouds, but:

Over the past 20 years, most teams have started valuing the Three Slow Outcomes: walks, strikeouts, and homers. It's worked well for the teams that have adopted it, which is now pretty much all of them.

But all three of these outcomes slow things down, either directly or indirectly. None of them even result in a fielder actually doing anything, or any single player running; much less the hitter, baserunners and fielders all sprinting at the same time. Just more standing around, and occasionally a hitter doing some jogging.

This whole offensive approach/defensive counter strategy contributes a lot to the slow pace of games, and even to other issues that fans complain about.

Walks and Ks take a lot of pitches, and with every batter swinging for the fences all the time, pitchers have to nibble a lot more, as if you miss over the heart of the plate, you're a lot more likely to give up a home run than in the past, and less likely to just give up a single.

Most hitters now want to try to lay off pitches that aren't crushable for homers, while most pitchers now throw as hard as they can and try to not miss in the zone, because it's much more damaging now to miss or to throw at less than 100% effort.

It seems like a typical at-bat now goes something like ball, ball, strike, ball, foul, foul-- that can take up to 3 or 4 minutes, and nothing has actually happened.

Compared to baseball of the '70s and 80's, when batters would often swing earlier in the count and swing more for contact, with pitchers working quicker. (It was the style at the time, so they tied onions to their belts!)

So it was more common back then to have quicker at-bats-- a pitch or two, then some action would actually happen. Even if the action was just a routine groundout, at least the game moved along faster, with more actual activity for fans to see.

There's an additional change over the past couple decades that has made games longer and slower that hardly anyone talks about: way more foul balls.



More fouls means more pitches with no action, at-bats that take longer, and more pitches in general. All generally making things worse. I have no idea what could be done to cut down on the number of fouls. I think it's just an unintended result of the way the game is played now. And getting away from the 3 Slow Outcomes approach could lead to fewer fouls.

The current HR-K-BB emphasis affects everything-- hitting, baserunning, defense and pitching.
When everyone in the lineup is capable of hitting a bomb at any time, pitchers have to pitch differently. They can't afford to pace themselves, and can't afford to miss in the heart of the zone. Teams want pitchers who throw as hard as possible, to get more strikeouts and hopefully be able to get away with less damage when they do miss over the plate. Baserunners don't steal much or take many risks, because it's bad strategy in a power-heavy environment. Since every hitter is swinging for the fences no matter what, defenses can play extreme over-shifts and take away hits.

I think the game would be better, faster paced, and more interesting if there was more of a balance of strategies and ways to win. I'm not talking about going back to the dead-ball 1960s, but finding a way to reward teams that have lineups more balanced with slap hitters and base stealers along with a few big power guys. Home runs are exciting, but so are triples, and stolen bases, and great catches, and runners gunned down at the plate, and suicide squeeze plays.

The Three Slow Outcomes strategy works best in the current state of the game, so teams are not going to change unless there are sound competitive reasons to change. So maybe baseball can come up with some way to incentivize teams that make more contact, swing earlier in the count, and take more risks on the bases. Those things all tend to happen more in an environment where home runs are less frequent. But that's the complete opposite direction that baseball has moved in recent years.

What could be done to move away from the homer-K-BB emphasis, without huge changes, or negative unintended consequences? Who knows. I'd hope that baseball would recognize this and think about it. I'm not encouraged though.

Here are some things I wish they would think about to try to make the game better and more exciting:
Sure seemed like the baseball was "juiced" last year, so maybe stop doing that, okay? Nobody wants a dead ball with no home runs, but going back to a ball like they had a few years ago could lead to a better "balance of power" which could help to positively impact multiple problems that a lot of people complain about: slow pace, little action, extreme shifts, pitchers not throwing deep in games or throwing that many innings, lots of innings pitched by middle relievers, etc.

Maybe think about gradually limiting the number of pitchers a team can carry, so that individual pitchers would have to pitch more innings. You couldn't do this overnight obviously, but doing it gradually, combined with a less lively ball, could lead to pitchers being able to pace themselves, pitch deeper into games, and not get crushed. The best pitchers in the game could throw more innings, and the worst ones less.

Maybe try expanding the strike zone a bit, so working the count is not as helpful, and hitters swing earlier and more often and make more contact.

Obviously, find a way to prevent sign stealing, like a buzzer system that the catcher and fielders could use, so they don't need to give 3 sets of signals on every single pitch.

And like I said before, work with the umpires to get them to enforce the rules already on the books. No stepping out. 12 seconds to pitch. Find a way to get the umps to enforce it.
One thing that you didn't note is that to have a balance of ways to try to score it helps to have a balance of types of parks. But we don't really have that any more. We've replaced almost all the pitchers' parks with sort of even parks or parks that present an easy homer to one field or the other. What real pitcher's parks are left? PacBell (or whatever it's called now) in SF. Safeco in Seattle. Nobody has the cheap astroturf any more like you had in the 70's and 80's that positively rewarded hitting ground balls. Hell, almost nobody has turf at all. You need at least a couple parks that promote pitchers or at least reward a different kind of offense in one division to have it become a more viable strategy. Absent a serious de-juicing of the ball or a much larger strike zone I don't see why a team would think that a different offense is the way to go.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Another thing that I think has changed hitting is body armor. Batters crowd the plate today much more than the once did and that allows them to handle pitches on the outer part of the plate better.
 

Max Power

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Because everyone is hunting for the three true outcomes, every pitch in today's game is max effort from both sides. The pitcher tries to throw every pitch through the backstop and the hitter tries to hit everything as hard as they can. So we end up with extended recovery time for both the hitters and pitchers between every single pitch. Throw in some extended signals from the catcher to deal with completely reasonable worries about sign stealing, and there you have your pace of play problems.

It doesn't seem right to tell players not to try their hardest, but enforcing a pitch clock would achieve the same results. If you can throw 99 every time with only 12 second between pitches, more power to you. But most pitchers would have to work smarter and not harder.
 

joyofsox

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While we're at it, let's do away with launch angles and bring back the contact hitter.
"Launch angles" have been a part of baseball since at least the 1880s.

A note from the Caldwell (Kansas) Advance, May 28, 1885:
"A base ball should be struck at the angle of twenty-three degrees in order to send it to the greatest possible distance. If you can't strike it in twenty three degrees give it a boost in ten, five, or even one, but be sure to bat it in some degree."

 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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I really think effective electronic communication between pitcher/catcher of what pitch to throw will fix the pacing issues almost immediately, the sooner the better IMO.
I think it'll fix some of it. I still think there are habits in place - around stepping out of the box or standing and staring at the plate in order to throw off a runner's timing - that are going to require more rigorous enforcement of a pitch clock or something similar to it before people get the idea that they can't be Rain Man up there.

But I think we agree that if we fix time between pitches, the rest of the factors raised from time to time will prove to be rounding error by comparison.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
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3,908
Boston, MA
In my quest to watch anything baseball related a couple of nights ago, I watched an inning of 1992 NLCS Game 7. It's shocking how much quicker the game was played. The catcher put down a sign, the batter and pitcher were ready to go, and that was that. No step outs, walking around the mound, or visits from the catcher to switch up the signs. I feel like every player should be forced to watch old games the entire time they're waiting for the season to start to see if any of it rubs off on them.
 

dixoncox

lurker
Jun 11, 2019
9
There's an additional change over the past couple decades that has made games longer and slower that hardly anyone talks about: way more foul balls.

More fouls means more pitches with no action, at-bats that take longer, and more pitches in general. All generally making things worse. I have no idea what could be done to cut down on the number of fouls. I think it's just an unintended result of the way the game is played now. And getting away from the 3 Slow Outcomes approach could lead to fewer fouls.
What if they revised the foul strike rule? A foul ball with two strikes becomes strike three and you're out.
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

Member
SoSH Member
May 5, 2017
661
I'm fairly certain that making a fundamental change to the game that would drastically increase strikeouts isn't the answer to any of baseball's problems. We need more at-bats that result in action, not fewer.