The MLB players’ union won’t agree to rules that speed up baseball, or put more balls in play.
The union did acquiesce to the no-pitch intentional walk, but won’t allow raising the bottom of the strike zone, or a pitch clock, or limiting mound visits. So MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says he will unilaterally impose certain rules changes in 2018, as permitted by the basic agreement.
MLB games have increased by an average of 40 minutes in length since 1972. That’s adding no action. Same game: Nine innings, 27 outs per team.
Last season, 30 percent of MLB hitters either walked or struck out. That’s the highest level of non-action in major-league history.
MLB games are, on average, 40 minutes longer than NBA games and 20 minutes longer than NHL games.
True, attendance is still great. TV ratings are, too. But America’s attention span is constantly shrinking. Manfred is wise to be proactive.
MLB plays every day. If you watch all of your favorite team’s games, that’s lots of time to commit. The potential is there for casual fans to lose interest.
Fans are hardly outraged with MLB’s pace of play. To some, it’s actually one of the game’s attractions. No clock = relaxing.
I understand, but why can’t there be a happy medium? Why is the players’ union uninterested in even exploring the possibility?
For me, the best way to watch baseball is to not really watch. I eat, drink and talk. But I keep a scorecard, so when action does occur, I get reeled back in. But pitching changes, mound visits, hitters jumping in and out of the batter’s box, batting-glove adjustments – they all add up.