Major League Baseball announced this week that it has formed a committee dedicated to increasing the game’s pace of play, which many fans – particularly younger fans – say is too slow.
How will MLB balance the natural pace of play inherent to the game with the fact that it’s not fast enough for today’s society?
“I think you hit on something right there,” Forbes writer Maury Brown said on The MoJo Show. “You’re hitting on what is natural and how do you speed it up without completely upending the game? That’s going to be baseball’s challenge. Baseball needs to speed things up a little bit, right? I can get that. It’s grown about a half an hour in length over the last 20 years now. But that’s due in large part because you’ve got pretty much every game now televised – and that wasn’t necessarily the case all the way back in, say, the ’80s. So things have changed.”
Indeed, you’ve got commercials, more pitching changes, more hitting changes and more time between innings.
“The hard part for the league is going to be trying to speed things up without upending that,” Brown said. “And I think that they’re doing that. They obviously are. That’s the announcement this week from the commissioner’s office. They’re going to go ahead and look into that. And I guess we’ll see how they do it. But a lot of people simply feel they need to enforce the rules that they already have in place.”
Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz will chair the committee, which will also consist of New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, Boston Red Sox partner Michael Gordon, MLB commissioner-elect Rob Manfred, MLB executive vice president Joe Torre and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.
The committee may try to enact rules to limit mound conferences and stifle fidgety batters, among other time-eating actions.
“Certainly you’re going to have people that are purists that don’t want to upend the game,” Brown said. “(But) what we’re trying to get to is action. I’m a huge fan of the game. It has always been that conversation of slower pace punctuated by great excitement and a lot of action, and that’s the thing that I think baseball is trying to get to. They’re never going to be able to get to it 100 percent. You’re not going to get it on a clock. So they’re going to tinker with it and how they tinker with it is going to probably be a topic of hot discussion.”
It is worth noting that this “problem” facing baseball is not necessary a reflection of the game, but rather, society. There’s internet. There are cell phones. People have full calendars and short attention spans.
That’s just life in the 21st century.
“It becomes difficult to be a fan,” Brown said. “Your attention span for baseball is a daily affair. You have to be very committed to be a baseball fan now. I think that wears on the average (person).”