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The New Baseball Rules

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We need a thread on the new baseball rules.

To me, they are all objectively good.

See, baseball’s endless focus on “tradition” is just terrible. The game is ENTERTAINMENT. When parts of the game don’t work anymore, you need to change them. Football and basketball never forgot this and so they change the rules all the time when necessary. And, quite honestly, the NBA is more fun to watch today than it ever has been before. So is the NFL. Baseball though? Ugh. It’s a slog. It’s boring these days. The shift made all the analytical sense in the world, but it also hurt the game tremendously. And that’s just one example. No one is paying to see endless outs.

I’d also note here that as soon as changes do happen, everyone stops whining because they work. The decades long debate about the DH ended last year when the NL finally adopted it. I know that some people remained upset that they couldn’t watch the “entertainment” of seeing an .050 hitting pitcher strike out, but for most people, having better hitters all the time made for a better game.

I am for one really excited about the bigger bases. Stolen bases are fun. Baseball is supposed to be fun! It’s not supposed to be a place for Boomers to complain about how the game just isn’t as great as when they were watching Mantle and Mays, or even better listening to it on the radio from bed when they were supposed to be sleeping. Stolen bases can make the game more fun!

Even more important is the pitch clock, which is already having a positive impact. Games are 22 minutes shorter so far this spring than last spring. That’s good! And remember, the NBA had to save their own game with the shot clock, which is now universally adored. I remember watching those Oregon State and North Carolina games in the 80s when they would take a 4 point lead and then run the four corners offense for the next 6 minutes, leading to games with scores that were like 21-16. My god. This is the equivalent of the 1-0 3 1/2 hour game with no pitcher throwing more than 4 innings that we see more and more and these days in baseball. So yeah, let’s remember how this game needs saving

In recent years, there has been a lot of standing around in baseball games, with pitchers taking forever to throw the ball and hitters frequently stepping out of the batter’s box. This year, Major League Baseball will try to speed things along with a clock that caps the amount of time between pitches.

It might sound like a radical idea, but the same concept saved the National Basketball Association nearly 70 years ago. In both cases, the clock was added to accelerate a plodding game.

Baseball games have been getting longer in recent years, dragging on for an average of more than three hours, compared to two-and-a-half hours in the 1970s. It’s even worse in the playoffs, with games often exceeding four hours.

Baseball hopes to reverse that trend this year, with a 15-second clock for each pitch when the bases are empty, and 20 seconds with runners on base. In addition, batters will be limited to one timeout per at-bat, and there will also be a 30-second timer between hitters. (The sport is making other changes, including banning the defensive infield shift to generate more offense, and making bases slightly larger to increase safety and possibly jumpstart stolen base attempts. All the new rules will be in effect for spring traininggames, which begin February 24 ahead of the 2023 season Opening Day on March 30.)

For more than 150 years, the lack of a clock on the field has distinguished baseball from other major US team sports, and some baseball purists are sure to object to adding one. “There’s no clock in baseball. And there’s no clock in baseball for a reason,” now-New York Mets star pitcher Max Scherzer said in 2019.

But it’s the growth of interminable games that’s really the break from tradition.

Last year’s World Series between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies, for example, included a four-and-a-half hours game (which went into 10 innings) and a nine-inning game that lasted nearly four hours. In 2020, the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians slogged through a nine-inning game that lasted a whopping four hours and 50 minutes — longer than some doubleheaders used to take back in the day.

The implementation of the “pitch clock” will lead to more action and less standing around — in other words, more baseball. What could be more traditional than that? Baseball will never be a fast-paced game, but there’s no reason it has to be a slow-paced one. A clock will suck a lot of dead time from the sport and quicken the game.

Baseball has already implemented the clock in the minor leagues, and last season, the average length of games dropped by 25 minutes, from 3:03 to 2:38. So it’s proven to make the game faster.

As the length of MLB games has increased, attendance has gone in the opposite direction, with smaller crowds last season than pre-pandemic levels. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes a clock will help reverse that trend.

Let this be an open thread for old people complaining about change in baseball.

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