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Monday, January 22, 2018

Rosenthal roundtable: Five MLB players weigh in on the pace-of-play rules and the need for change – The Athletic

Enforce the 12 second rule. I want the game done in 2.5 hours.

Scherzer: When you get down to the root of it, the clock MLB is proposing with ball-strike penalties, it’s very regimented. There is no leeway within any situations. Say there is a quick game going on. Everyone is doing their job and working at a quick pace. Then something happens and someone takes a little extra time. And we’re going to penalize somebody. That’s what leads to a lot of people being frustrated by having a regimented clock.

We hear MLB. We want the game underneath three hours. The umpires can kind of tell when the game is moving slow and when the game is moving fast. After three innings, if it’s taken two hours, we know we’re behind with the clock, the umpires would have some type of leeway to help pick up the pace of play instead of having consequences attached to it. That’s when players would be more receptive to different enforcements.

The players right now when we hear clock, when we hear balls and strikes, we just want to take our heads and beat them against the wall. It doesn’t make sense because there are too many variables in there. But if there is a conversation about situations when the game is running slow and what we should do, you’re going to have a lot of ideas from different players. There should be some middle ground here.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 22, 2018 at 08:32 AM | 146 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Stevey Posted: January 22, 2018 at 06:23 PM (#5611330)
Do you ever hear anyone saying they only wished the game took longer?


No, but I have seen more than a few business studies that saw things like customers complaining about kiosks at the end of each aisle in some kind of superstore because they cluttered things up and made the things the customers said they wanted harder to find. When the store took out these kiosks, they found that customers were spending noticeably less money, and there was no increase in purchases of those items that were supposedly hard to find. How people vote with their mouth and how they vote with their wallet can show noticeable discrepancies.

But the vast majority of people on this site, a site devoted to very devoted baseball fans, believe the game as played is too slow paced.


People always overestimate how much their group's opinion matters. Especially diehards who will provide support almost no matter what. Take for example all the other nonsense that goes on with Sunday Night Baseball besides the game. It's not for us, the people who will watch baseball simply because there is baseball on. It's for all the other people who might want to switch over to the Bachelor, Kardashians, Duck Dynasty, whatever CNN/Fox News are claiming is the next downfall of society or whatever else is on.

But tell me, what do you prefer. Would you prefer less time between pitches, one with even more time to savor the delicate dance between a pitcher not pitching and a batter not batting or is the current pace just right?


Depends. Is it Tuesday night with a 9-2 game and I have to be at work early the next morning? Sure, let's move it along. Is it a sunny Sunday afternoon and I'm gluttoning on beers and hot dogs with buddies? Schedule a mid-game siesta.
   102. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 22, 2018 at 06:58 PM (#5611336)
You've got two camps


I guess I put myself in a third camp, and I don't think I'm alone. It's the "this won't work either, and might even backfire" camp. I mean, isn't instituting a 20 second clock an admission that they don't have the stones to just enforce the current 12 second rule?

I timed every bases-empty pitch for about three innings of a random midseason game last year. Not a single one took less than 12 seconds, and most were right around 20. So I view this change as essentially a capitulation.
   103. Baldrick Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:08 PM (#5611343)
No, but I have seen more than a few business studies that saw things like customers complaining about kiosks at the end of each aisle in some kind of superstore because they cluttered things up and made the things the customers said they wanted harder to find. When the store took out these kiosks, they found that customers were spending noticeably less money, and there was no increase in purchases of those items that were supposedly hard to find. How people vote with their mouth and how they vote with their wallet can show noticeable discrepancies.

A store set up a system to trick people into buying useless crap they don't need. People complained about the system. The store changed the system, and people ended up saving money because they were no longer being tricked into buying as much useless crap.

Yep, that's definitely a parable explaining why baseball games should be interminable. Well said!
   104. Stevey Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:18 PM (#5611344)
A store set up a system to trick people into buying useless crap they don't need. People complained about the system. The store changed the system, and people ended up saving money because they were no longer being tricked into buying as much useless crap.


That's certainly one interpretation. Another is that people weren't actually prevented from buying the things they wanted despite their complaints - they complain for the sake of complaining, and little more. Also, that those things in the kiosks were not useless crap, but the things people actually wanted, just needed some incentivizing by making it more accessible. And of course, the purpose of a superstore and a baseball game is the same thing - get people to spend as much money as possible. If there's any tricks here, it's on the diehards who think the game exists to maximize their pleasure as cheaply as possible. The game is about the money in your pocket, not you.
   105. SoSH U at work Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:28 PM (#5611345)
It's the "this won't work either, and might even backfire" camp. I mean, isn't instituting a 20 second clock an admission that they don't have the stones to just enforce the current 12 second rule?


That's not really a third camp (at least as it relates to the question here). It sounds like you want a faster game. You just don't think this is path to it.

People always overestimate how much their group's opinion matters. Especially diehards who will provide support almost no matter what.


I don't think MLB is talking about this because the guys at BTF have been caterwauling about it. It's obviously an issue for more than just us.

The game is about the money in your pocket, not you.


Given the guys with the pockets are the ones suggesting the change, that sounds like a comment best directed inward.
   106. Jay Z Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:34 PM (#5611349)
The game is about the money in your pocket, not you.


No, to me the game is about me. It's entertainment. Not even something vital to my existence.

I suppose if someone can convince me to consume entertainment at an inflated value, so they can make more money, it helps them out. But I have every right to get the best entertainment value for my dollar as well.
   107. Stevey Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:40 PM (#5611352)
I don't think MLB is talking about this because the guys at BTF have been caterwauling about it.


Not BTF, but writers, the people who want their own workday to be shorter.

Given the guys with the pockets are the ones suggesting the change, that sounds like a comment best directed inward.


It's a running joke here how the guys with the pockets, or at least their mouthpiece Manfred, are open to any and every suggestion. So, sure, chalk up this one too. To me, this seems far more like the steroids situation, where the owners want something to hang over the players heads, and hopefully divide them, come CBA negotiating time.
   108. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:46 PM (#5611354)
Public transportation was more comprehensive, traffic was much less dense, and most people lived a lot closer to the ballparks.

Are you suggesting that "things were better back in my day?"

I must have misread your post because I didn't see the "get off my lawn" anywhere in there....

Look we'd all like a quicker game and it's not like it's not possible. Heck Buehrle could give you one of those 2:15 games anytime he took the mound...and that is with his own teammates mucking around in the box and the other team's pitcher screwing around.


Okay, here's how I see today's game vs the game I first knew, back around the time most of your parents were born.

--- The game on the field is incomparably better today in every respect other than the time of game. I won't get into the extraneous #### like showboating, salaries, etc., because all that #### is extraneous. For whatever reason, the players today are just much better than they used to be, just like they are in all the other major sports. And whereas BITD you'd be lucky to find one or two truly exceptional players on all but a handful of teams, now every team has several or more players who would have been stars in any era, and superstars back when I first started watching the game.

--- But (IMO) the ballpark experience isn't as good. The stadiums are in better condition, the food is incomparably better, and if that's what's important to you, then that's the end of the discussion.

The one other unequivocal improvement, and it's huge, is that the condition of the field itself is much, much better than it used to be. Whereas there used to be hard lumps and pebbles in the infield dirt, and big patches of the outfield with burned grass or virtually no grass at all, especially in the multi-sport stadiums, today's grass looks like it came out of the garden at the Royal Palace, perfectly cut and not a brown blade to be seen.

But....the prices for good seats are a lot higher, even after adjusting for inflation. For the best games they're increasingly allocated according to your willingness to pay premium prices, rather than your willingness to get there early and wait a few hours. There are no more general admission seats to let you get a good view at a lower price. In some parks even the bleacher seats are reserved, rather than first come first served. In practice, what that's resulted in is a lot of empty box seats that are held by corporations looking for tax breaks. #### that. Any seat that isn't claimed by the 3rd or 4th inning should be considered vacant and subject to squatter's rights, which was a de facto rule of thumb BITD in a fair number of parks.

The bottom line is that much of the spontaneity of the ballpark experience---"Great day for a game, let's get there early and get a good seat"---has gone by the wayside. Too much resemblance now in many cases to a Broadway show, with too much planning required. #### that as well.

And don't get me started on the extraneous BS that truly IS annoying, like the earsplitting music that never stops and amped up PA announcers. It's not as bad as it is at basketball games, but it's bad enough. If I want to be deafened, I want it to be by screaming fans, not by some goddam music coming over the loudspeakers.

----So that makes it a tie game going into the bottom of the 9th, but then we've got the equivalent of a walkoff homer for today's game in the form of cheap and easy access to games via cable TV, computers and personal devices. So people like me who love the game on the field, but not the aggra and agita of the ballpark experience, can just plop down $199 a year and see any game we want in the comfort of home, and with better food. Maybe those of us who remember pre-cable TV with fuzzy pictures and virtually no non-local games will appreciate this advance more than those who take it for granted.

So it's Today's Game 2, Yesterday's Game 1. Time of game: A manageable 2:30.
   109. Stevey Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:46 PM (#5611355)
But I have every right to get the best entertainment value for my dollar as well.


You sure do. And as the game has gotten longer, more people are handing over more of their entertainment dollars. Maybe BTF just isn't a great sample of the nation(world?)wide baseball fanbase, if longer games are causing people here to spend less.
   110. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2018 at 07:59 PM (#5611362)
A 7:05 start averages ending at 10:13. For a game to start at eight and be done before 10:13 when you were five would require you to have been born in 1942.

It was over at 10:30. Andy posted the numbers.

A 7:05 start means I miss the first 45 minutes of the game. I'm not home until 6:45, by the time we cook and eat, it's 7:45.

   111. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2018 at 08:03 PM (#5611363)
Much of that work does take place before the game, but plenty still occurs between pitches. McCullers says that they have to frequently change their signs, the pitcher and catcher have to make sure they are on the same page regarding that highly detailed scouting report. Defensive alignments are becoming more and more important. All of this stuff happens smack dab in the middle of the game. It's no longer good enough to just rear back and throw.

Who cares?

I much rather see 1985 quality baseball at the 1985 pace, than 2017 quality baseball at the 2017 pace.

If the quality of baseball "fell" to 1985 levels tomorrow (which is probably only like 5% anyway), I guarantee you wouldn't notice.

If shifts are causing the delays, ban them.
   112. Stevey Posted: January 22, 2018 at 08:10 PM (#5611367)
It was over at 10:30.


So ... later than today? If five year olds are up at 10:30, they can see the end of games today.

Who cares?


Obviously a few people, considering attendance and revenue are up a helluva lot since 1985.

I guarantee you wouldn't notice.


If an 80-win team of 1985 players that smoked cigarettes between at-bats instead of watching video were transported to today, I'd peg their over-under at about 50 wins. Teams today would mop the floor with 1985 levels of baseball.

If shifts are causing the delays, ban them.


It's not shifts. It's the amount of data that has to be sifted through to better than your opponent, some of which has led teams to shift more often. If you ban shifts, teams will devote those man-hours that are spent finding the best defensive alignment toward researching and putting on the field other ways to gain an advantage. An overly simplified answer of "ban shifts" is not a useful response to the fact that teams now put together 80 page scouting reports before every series.
   113. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2018 at 08:46 PM (#5611383)
It's not shifts. It's the amount of data that has to be sifted through to better than your opponent, some of which has led teams to shift more often. If you ban shifts, teams will devote those man-hours that are spent finding the best defensive alignment toward researching and putting on the field other ways to gain an advantage. An overly simplified answer of "ban shifts" is not a useful response to the fact that teams now put together 80 page scouting reports before every series.

You have 12 seconds between pitches to "sift". What's so hard about that concept?

If the coaches can't position their players in that time, so be it. Let the fielders position themselves.

Teams using analytics to improve their performance doesn't lead to a better quality of play. It's a zero sum game. For any player to succeed, another has to fail.

The only thing that improves the quality of play is better athleticism, and better conditioning.
   114. BDC Posted: January 22, 2018 at 08:54 PM (#5611387)
cmd, you make resourceful points all along, and though of course I think you are mostly wrong, you have done well in gladiatorial combat against the combined forces of BBTF :)

As to whether play is better in 2017 than 1985, maybe, I have no idea, probably you're right. But baseball is a zero-sum game. Mike Schmidt and Bret Saberhagen may not have been able to carry the jocks of 2017 journeymen – somehow I doubt that, but let's say – but even if so, they were as far better than the rest of 1985's players as Nolan Arenado and Corey Kluber were than the rest of 2017's.

So the game was precisely as "good" in 1985 as it is now, plus it was brisker and more engaging.

This is a basic principle of team sport. The absolute level does not matter nearly as much as the competition. Otherwise nobody would watch college sports, and we would constantly have the sense (no matter when we lived) that something sucked about the entire sport we were watching, compared to its unrealized potential. (Granted, as a Ranger fan I have sometimes felt that way :-D )

But somehow we enjoyed the competition back then every bit as much as we enjoy it today.

   115. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 22, 2018 at 09:00 PM (#5611393)
Obviously a few people, considering attendance and revenue are up a helluva lot since 1985.

Again from TDF's link.....

1908 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 5,000

1919 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 5,000 for good

1945 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 8,000

1946 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 10,000

1947 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 15,000 (1946's was 14,914)

1973 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 15,000 for good

1979 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 20,000

1988 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 25,000

1993 - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 30,000

Not yet - First year MLB attendance per game surpassed 30,000 for good (2017 dipped below that for the first time since 2003)

Top 4 per game attendance years, in order: 2008, 2007, 2006, 1994
   116. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 22, 2018 at 09:03 PM (#5611396)

A 7:05 start means I miss the first 45 minutes of the game. I'm not home until 6:45, by the time we cook and eat, it's 7:45.
Maybe you should stop being a luddite and get a DVR.
   117. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 22, 2018 at 09:17 PM (#5611405)
Maybe you should stop being a luddite and get a DVR.

I have one.

I don't want to watch a 3 hour game, with the current pace, anyway, so why bother? I can read about the game the next day.
   118. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 22, 2018 at 09:44 PM (#5611427)

I have one.
Well, then a 7:05 start does not mean you miss the first 45 minutes of the game.
   119. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 22, 2018 at 10:24 PM (#5611446)
If you have a DVR, a 7:45pm viewing is perfect for a 7:05 start.

Then again, I rarely watch live baseball any more due to pace. I heavily watch the playoffs, but the regular season is a drag.

   120. DFA Posted: January 23, 2018 at 12:28 AM (#5611496)
Pace of play threads are always so interesting.

I have significant concerns about having a clock in a major league game. I know they already have them for the commercial breaks, which is fine. But I am in the camp that doesn't want a clock during the game. I think in the minors they should be do this, perhaps this will create more expedient habits for the players. But I think there is a value in the so called "d!cking around" mentioned earlier. Big Papi is going through pitch, location, sequence, situation, etc, in his brain. The pitcher is doing the same thing. The pace of play has worsened over time, but the quality of play has improved. At least, that would be my working hypothesis.

Also, reduce the commercial time. I know, this will never happen, and really baseball is just a vehicle to derive profit for our corporate overlords.
   121. Jay Z Posted: January 23, 2018 at 01:07 AM (#5611500)
Somehow all of these other sports manage to get their plays off on time while having the quality improve as well.
   122. Stevey Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:06 AM (#5611511)
You have 12 seconds between pitches to "sift".


Except, they take more, and everyone lets them. The catcher walks out to change up the signs, the infield gathers at the mound so everyone knows how the pitcher is going to attack the batter to align the defense. The third base coach relays some information from the dugout that the bench coach just picked up in-game by watching video on an ipad. This is the kind of sifting they want to get that helps them play better.

Teams using analytics to improve their performance doesn't lead to a better quality of play. It's a zero sum game. For any player to succeed, another has to fail.


I'm 99% sure we went over this last time there was a pace of play thread, but more people watch the bigs than watch AAA which in turn gets more viewers than high school ball. Why? Because the quality of play is higher. Sure, zero sum. But you aren't watching Chapman throw 106 or Stanton hit one 500 feet, or in one moment see a hitter turn on 98 and the next look completely baffled by a slider that moves like a wiffleball at the lower levels. Sure, plenty of that is athleticism. Still, a significant amount is how much more scouting and analytical work can be done in today's game that helps the batter know 98 inside is coming, or the pitcher know that the batter isn't looking for the breakingball.
   123. manchestermets Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:53 AM (#5611518)
--- The game on the field is incomparably better today in every respect other than the time of game. I won't get into the extraneous #### like showboating, salaries, etc., because all that #### is extraneous. For whatever reason, the players today are just much better than they used to be, just like they are in all the other major sports. And whereas BITD you'd be lucky to find one or two truly exceptional players on all but a handful of teams, now every team has several or more players who would have been stars in any era, and superstars back when I first started watching the game.


Obligatory.

In some parks even the bleacher seats are reserved, rather than first come first served.


Are there any parks where they aren't?
   124. Joe Bivens is NOT a clueless numpty Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:05 AM (#5611523)
Back in Schmidt's day, players stayed in the box between pitches. They don't today, even with the rule change that supposedly makes them stay in the box. It's not enforced.
   125. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:38 AM (#5611536)

But I think there is a value in the so called "d!cking around" mentioned earlier. Big Papi is going through pitch, location, sequence, situation, etc, in his brain. The pitcher is doing the same thing. The pace of play has worsened over time, but the quality of play has improved.
Again, there's value to the individual batter in going over that in his mind, or the individual pitcher. That just isn't the same thing as value to the game as a whole. Those cancel each other out, on net. They have to. That's just a different concept, despite cmd600's attempts to obfuscate, than "quality of play." If you watch a lot of minor-league ball (as I do), you will certainly notice a difference in the quality of play. But what you notice is not that the pitchers aren't making use of enough advance video to throw the optimum pitch, or that the batters don't know enough about the pitchers, because (again) that cancels out. What you notice is that the players aren't as skilled; they don't execute as well. The fastballs aren't as fast, the curveballs aren't as curvy, the batters don't make as good contact or hit the ball as hard, the fielders aren't as athletic, etc.

If video analysis proves that the pitch to have the best chance of getting the hitter out is to throw an inside slider in this situation, but because the pitcher didn't take 45 seconds to pitch he didn't know that and he throws a curveball instead, that might be a worse outcome for him, but not for the game. The game isn't better if every pitcher is able to strike more batters out or induce more weak grounders. (What is important is the right balance of offense and defense, but that's separate from what we're discussing.)
   126. Rusty Priske Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:40 AM (#5611538)
I missed most of this thread but to respond to the accusation about my post way back at the start...

NO, pace of play issues and game length are NOT always the same thing.

For example, when they got rid of the four pitch intentional walk it was widely acclaimed that it wouldn't do anything about game length - which is true. It improves a pace of play issue, though, because they are boring to watch.

Similarly, not everyone agrees that pitchers and batters should 'hurry up', but I think pretty much everyone would agree that shorter commercial breaks between innings would be a good thing - because they are boring.

Not all time reductions are equal. The goal should NOT be to make a shorter game. The goal should be to keep the game interesting from start to finish.
   127. spycake Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:43 AM (#5611539)
Except, they take more, and everyone lets them. The catcher walks out to change up the signs, the infield gathers at the mound so everyone knows how the pitcher is going to attack the batter to align the defense. The third base coach relays some information from the dugout that the bench coach just picked up in-game by watching video on an ipad. This is the kind of sifting they want to get that helps them play better


iPads aren't allowed in dugouts. If players / coaches want them, would that be a worthy compromise for enforcing the time between pitches rule?

Also, the sequence you list largely doesn't have to take place between each pitch. It could take place between each batter, where the prescribed time limit is 30 seconds. And for the first batter of the inning, they would have 2 minutes or whatever the inning/commercial/warmup time is -- time that could be used to make general preparations for the next 3-4 batters, in fact.

With men on base, there would be 20 seconds between pitches too, which seems like it would be enough to tweak one of the pre-batter adjustments if necessary, and of course the pitcher could step off or throw over to buy more time.

The 12 second limit is only between pitches of an at-bat with no one on base. Still plenty of time for individual players to think about the last pitch and the next pitch.
   128. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5611545)
Then again, I rarely watch live baseball any more due to pace. I heavily watch the playoffs, but the regular season is a drag.

I can barely watch Yankee playoff games anymore.

I turned on this game at 9:30 and it was still the 3rd inning.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE201710060.shtml

I said to myself, "Oh hell no", and turned the channel.

   129. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:57 AM (#5611547)
Again, there's value to the individual batter in going over that in his mind, or the individual pitcher. That just isn't the same thing as value to the game as a whole. Those cancel each other out, on net. They have to. That's just a different concept, despite cmd600's attempts to obfuscate, than "quality of play." If you watch a lot of minor-league ball (as I do), you will certainly notice a difference in the quality of play. But what you notice is not that the pitchers aren't making use of enough advance video to throw the optimum pitch, or that the batters don't know enough about the pitchers, because (again) that cancels out. What you notice is that the players aren't as skilled; they don't execute as well. The fastballs aren't as fast, the curveballs aren't as curvy, the batters don't make as good contact or hit the ball as hard, the fielders aren't as athletic, etc.

If video analysis proves that the pitch to have the best chance of getting the hitter out is to throw an inside slider in this situation, but because the pitcher didn't take 45 seconds to pitch he didn't know that and he throws a curveball instead, that might be a worse outcome for him, but not for the game. The game isn't better if every pitcher is able to strike more batters out or induce more weak grounders. (What is important is the right balance of offense and defense, but that's separate from what we're discussing.)


100% correct. By definition the pace of play can't affect quality. It's a zero sum game.
   130. Nasty Nate Posted: January 23, 2018 at 09:10 AM (#5611558)
Again, there's value to the individual batter in going over that in his mind, or the individual pitcher. That just isn't the same thing as value to the game as a whole. Those cancel each other out, on net. They have to. That's just a different concept, despite cmd600's attempts to obfuscate, than "quality of play." If you watch a lot of minor-league ball (as I do), you will certainly notice a difference in the quality of play. But what you notice is not that the pitchers aren't making use of enough advance video to throw the optimum pitch, or that the batters don't know enough about the pitchers, because (again) that cancels out. What you notice is that the players aren't as skilled; they don't execute as well. The fastballs aren't as fast, the curveballs aren't as curvy, the batters don't make as good contact or hit the ball as hard, the fielders aren't as athletic, etc.

If video analysis proves that the pitch to have the best chance of getting the hitter out is to throw an inside slider in this situation, but because the pitcher didn't take 45 seconds to pitch he didn't know that and he throws a curveball instead, that might be a worse outcome for him, but not for the game. The game isn't better if every pitcher is able to strike more batters out or induce more weak grounders
Good post.
   131. Greg Pope Posted: January 23, 2018 at 09:20 AM (#5611562)
Taken to its absurd conclusion, we could say that the game would be at its best if between every pitch, both sides ran a computer simulation to find the best possible outcome, then had a conference to relay the information. It would make the games last 6 hours, but each player would have the best chance at success.

By the same reasoning, we could get marathon times down quite a bit if we would just let the runners sprint for 400 meters then take an untimed rest. Or schedule a 15 minute break between each drive in a football game to let the coaches and players study more video. How about let the NBA players sit on the bench for 5 minutes before every free throw to make sure that they're fully rested and we can get the highest FT% possible. We don't want this because it would make a boring game, but also because the game needs to have a framework or else it's just a skills competition.

Part of pitching is deciding which pitch to throw and there's no reason why the pitcher should be allowed 45 seconds to think it over. Same for the batter. If the pitcher picks a bad pitch, or the hitter guesses wrong because he couldn't remember what pitch was thrown 4 pitches ago, well, that should be part of the game. If the pitcher can't rest up for 30 seconds between each pitch, maybe he can't throw 100 MPH on every single pitch. That should be limitation of the game. Baseball should be a game between teams, not a contest to see who can throw the hardest.
   132. BDC Posted: January 23, 2018 at 09:21 AM (#5611564)
more people watch the bigs than watch AAA which in turn gets more viewers than high school ball. Why? Because the quality of play is higher

Let's grant that quality of play is a factor, there are so many other factors at work in your comparison that it almost ceases to matter. More people watch the major leagues because the teams play in the biggest cities, in the biggest stadiums, with the most marketing attention and media access. More people watch the majors because the players don't turn over every few months as in AAA, and the franchises themselves move very rarely and don't switch affiliations (they are the affiliations).

Again, when you get a league with distinctly lower quality of play but strong marketing, big stadiums, built-in loyalties, and lavish media attention, you get huge crowds and tons of money; you get college football. That college baseball is much less popular than college football is something of a historical accident, with all kinds of contributing factors. It's only in small part because a major-league pitcher throws a few MPH faster than a college pitcher, because you can't see that for yourself unless you're a trained fanatic like DMN :) (Though you do have a point insofar as there's a media industry devoted to telling you how fast major-leaguers throw, with radar guns on every pitch. I just think it's a minor factor. Nobody decides to go to a game in any large part because the major-leaguers throw 93 and the local college pitchers throw 89. The baseball is a blur in either case.)

And I'm sorry, but the historical argument is still unconvincing. Nobody in 1985 thinks "I'll go to a couple of extra games this year because Mike Schmidt gets to grounders a split-second faster than Puddinhead Jones used to. But I'd go to even more if Scott Rolen would come around so I can see somebody a split-second faster than Schmidt."
   133. Nasty Nate Posted: January 23, 2018 at 09:39 AM (#5611572)
We don't want this because it would make a boring game, but also because the game needs to have a framework or else it's just a skills competition.

Part of pitching is deciding which pitch to throw and there's no reason why the pitcher should be allowed 45 seconds to think it over. Same for the batter. If the pitcher picks a bad pitch, or the hitter guesses wrong because he couldn't remember what pitch was thrown 4 pitches ago, well, that should be part of the game. If the pitcher can't rest up for 30 seconds between each pitch, maybe he can't throw 100 MPH on every single pitch. That should be limitation of the game.
Right, I want a high level of play within the framework/limitations of the game. For decades, the pace of play limitation was flexible or implicit, and that worked fine. But the players/coaches have flexed it out too much, and it's no longer working so well, so I'd be happy if they made the limitation more rigid even if a tiny bit of quality of play was lost.
   134. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 09:54 AM (#5611580)
NO, pace of play issues and game length are NOT always the same thing.
I didn't say they were "always" the same thing; I said they generally were.
For example, when they got rid of the four pitch intentional walk it was widely acclaimed that it wouldn't do anything about game length - which is true. It improves a pace of play issue, though, because they are boring to watch.
What a bizarre example that doesn't prove your point at all. The complaint was that it wouldn't do anything about game length because (a) intentional walks are rare, and (b) throwing four pitches doesn't really take very much time. For those same reasons, it doesn't do anything about pace of game.

Similarly, not everyone agrees that pitchers and batters should 'hurry up', but I think pretty much everyone would agree that shorter commercial breaks between innings would be a good thing - because they are boring.
You are mistaken. I do not agree that shorter commercial breaks between innings are a good thing. If you're at the ballpark and you want to hit the restroom or go to a concession stand, longer breaks allow you more time to do that without missing the game. (It also allows you to chat with someone around you without missing anything.) In the old pre-DVR days, longer commercial breaks served the same purpose when you were watching at home. Because of TiVo longer breaks are no longer needed for that purpose; you can just pause it when necessary. But by the same token, because of DVR the longer breaks don't matter; it's easy to fast forward through them. The pace issue -- that DVRs don't solve -- is the time between pitches. It's very difficult to FF through that dead time w/o missing something -- and even if you could, doing so requires you to ride the FF button through the whole game.

Not all time reductions are equal. The goal should NOT be to make a shorter game.
Yes, it should. If one is retired or on vacation or a college student or something, longer games don't matter. For people who have other commitments, including family and work, shaving a half hour off of games is a big deal. (As Andy noted, the fan base doesn't all live right next to the ballpark anymore.) That doesn't mean it should be done at the expense of the integrity of the game -- if a game goes long because of extra innings, that's part of the game. But if you can shorten the game, that's good.
   135. BDC Posted: January 23, 2018 at 10:07 AM (#5611591)
For people who have other commitments, including family and work, shaving a half hour off of games is a big deal

I like weeknight games, but I go only when I don't have class the next morning. Indeed, the difference between a game over at 9:30 and one that ends at 10:00 or 10:15 is not trivial. OK, I'm cranky, pushing sixty, and I whine about the heat, but I can't be alone in this :-D

if a game goes long because of extra innings, that's part of the game

Yes; and in baseball extra innings generally have built-in excitement, so they really are a bonus.
   136. SoSH U at work Posted: January 23, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5611672)
You are mistaken. I do not agree that shorter commercial breaks between innings are a good thing. If you're at the ballpark and you want to hit the restroom or go to a concession stand, longer breaks allow you more time to do that without missing the game. (It also allows you to chat with someone around you without missing anything.) In the old pre-DVR days, longer commercial breaks served the same purpose when you were watching at home. Because of TiVo longer breaks are no longer needed for that purpose; you can just pause it when necessary. But by the same token, because of DVR the longer breaks don't matter; it's easy to fast forward through them. The pace issue -- that DVRs don't solve -- is the time between pitches. It's very difficult to FF through that dead time w/o missing something -- and even if you could, doing so requires you to ride the FF button through the whole game.


I agree wholeheartedly. The commercial breaks simply aren't a problem, either at the park or at home.

Also, I think the shifting thing is kind of irrelevant. Teams aren't shifting dramatically between pitches, but between batters, which takes more time anyway and isn't really the source of the problem.

   137. Rusty Priske Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:01 PM (#5611799)
You want shorter games and long commercial breaks.

You want time to chat without 'missing anything'.

You are judging the pace of the game based on your ability to FF past the boring parts.

Are you sure you even LIKE baseball?
   138. SoSH U at work Posted: January 23, 2018 at 02:52 PM (#5611885)
You want shorter games and long commercial breaks.


I want the same amount of action in less time. I don't care about commercial lengths because a) I understand they really do pay the bills, and b) I can accomplish other things (pissing when I'm at the ballgame, grabbing the laundry out of the dryer when I'm home) during the breaks. I can't do that in-between pitches.

You want time to chat without 'missing anything'.


Between-innings delays are a fixture at baseball games at all levels. My son's games don't have commercial breaks, and they probably take just as much time as an MLB game.

You are judging the pace of the game based on your ability to FF past the boring parts.


No, we're judging the pace of the game based on the pace of the game, which has become really poor. You haven't noticed?


Are you sure you even LIKE baseball?


Do you honestly like the 20-30 seconds of dicking around between pitches - batters wandering around outside the box, catchers making multiple trips to the mound, etc.?

That's not baseball. It's avoiding baseball.
   139. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 23, 2018 at 03:00 PM (#5611898)
Are you sure you even LIKE baseball?

The Godwin of this topic.
   140. Stevey Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:24 PM (#5612100)
Again, there's value to the individual batter in going over that in his mind, or the individual pitcher. That just isn't the same thing as value to the game as a whole. Those cancel each other out, on net.


Not necessarily, because ...

But what you notice is not that the pitchers aren't making use of enough advance video to throw the optimum pitch, or that the batters don't know enough about the pitchers, because (again) that cancels out. What you notice is that the players aren't as skilled; they don't execute as well. The fastballs aren't as fast, the curveballs aren't as curvy, the batters don't make as good contact or hit the ball as hard, the fielders aren't as athletic, etc.



us amateur scouts aren't qualified to notice more than some guy throws a bit harder or curvier, or runs faster. We don't have any real insight into who is more prepared than the other guy. To call it a net of zero and wash your hands and move away is just a random guess.


If video analysis proves that the pitch to have the best chance of getting the hitter out is to throw an inside slider in this situation, but because the pitcher didn't take 45 seconds to pitch he didn't know that and he throws a curveball instead, that might be a worse outcome for him, but not for the game. The game isn't better if every pitcher is able to strike more batters out or induce more weak grounders. (What is important is the right balance of offense and defense, but that's separate from what we're discussing.)


It is a bit funny to hear the most laissez-faire libertarian here think that MLB keeping their hands off and letting the competition between the players flesh out who actually is the best is not good for the game. One would expect you to think that whatever players decide makes them better would make the game better. You may not think the game is better, and fair play to that, but I'd guess that many more would rather see Sale vs Stanton instead of Rodriguez vs Hicks, even if the every single outcome had the same odds between the two matchups.


Again, when you get a league with distinctly lower quality of play but strong marketing, big stadiums, built-in loyalties, and lavish media attention, you get huge crowds and tons of money; you get college football.


College football is a completely different beast fueled by reminiscing of the glory days with your buddies. No other college sport comes close to its pro equivalent (and college football doesn't touch the NFL either). The NCAA basketball tournament does well because we are a nation of degenerate gamblers, not because fans like watching point guards who can't break a press.
   141. Greg Pope Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:41 PM (#5612110)
We don't have any real insight into who is more prepared than the other guy. To call it a net of zero and wash your hands and move away is just a random guess.

Scoring may go up or down, depending on the balance, but for the game itself, it has to be a net zero. We're not talking about whether this shifts advantage towards hitting or pitching. Let's just take the pitching side. Let's say Pitcher A is in a 2-1 count in the 8th inning with 1 out, having thrown 13 pitches. Under the current rules he gets to think about the pitch, talk to the catcher, and get input from the bench. He now has a 78% chance of getting the guy out. Under the new rules he has to work faster and can't talk to anyone, then maybe he has a 67% chance of getting the guy out. That extra 11% shifts from the pitcher to the batter. Zero sum. Same thing works the other way for the batter. Maybe the percentage ends up at 75% or maybe 81%, but anything lost or gained by the pitcher has the reverse effect on the batter.
   142. Zach Posted: January 23, 2018 at 06:54 PM (#5612119)
To think that I spent all those years watching inferior play from batters with inadequately adjusted gloves and cups. And practice swings! Four or five swings between every pitch really adds up. You don't want to watch a ballplayer who hasn't practiced, do you?
   143. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5612152)
You want shorter games and long commercial breaks.

You want time to chat without 'missing anything'.

You are judging the pace of the game based on your ability to FF past the boring parts.

Are you sure you even LIKE baseball?
Uh, yeah; that's why I don't want to miss things. And of course the "boring parts" I want to skip are the parts where they aren't playing baseball. (They may be thinking very hard about baseball, but they aren't playing baseball.)
   144. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 23, 2018 at 08:34 PM (#5612159)
us amateur scouts aren't qualified to notice more than some guy throws a bit harder or curvier, or runs faster. We don't have any real insight into who is more prepared than the other guy. To call it a net of zero and wash your hands and move away is just a random guess.
No; by definition it's a net of zero. Not necessarily for any one individual player, but for the league. If a pitcher isn't prepared, and throws a suboptimum pitch, that increases the chances of the batter getting a hit -- but a batter getting a hit is not lower quality of play. If a batter isn't prepared, and guesses the next pitch wrong, that increases the chances of the pitcher getting him out -- but a pitcher getting a batter out is not lower quality of play. I am not saying that it evens out such that scoring levels won't change; they might go up or down, depending on which side of the game needs preparation more. I am saying that whether scoring levels are higher or lower is not relevant to the issue of play caliber.

EDIT: Or what Greg Pope says in 141.

It is a bit funny to hear the most laissez-faire libertarian here think that MLB keeping their hands off and letting the competition between the players flesh out who actually is the best is not good for the game. One would expect you to think that whatever players decide makes them better would make the game better. You may not think the game is better, and fair play to that, but I'd guess that many more would rather see Sale vs Stanton instead of Rodriguez vs Hicks, even if the every single outcome had the same odds between the two matchups.
To paraphrase Pauli, this isn't right; it isn't even wrong. The attempted analogy is so confused that I can't tell whether it's deliberate. (The most obvious problem is that there's no such thing as "MLB keeping their hands off"; in sports, who's best is defined by the rules. If the rules say that a pitch must be delivered within 12 seconds, then the pitcher who can get the most batters out while delivering pitches within 12 seconds is better than the pitcher who could get more batters out if he had 30 seconds.)
   145. Sunday silence Posted: January 24, 2018 at 05:25 AM (#5612229)
The practical problem here is that many of the changes proposed, like limiting mound visits and reducing pitcher warmup time, will result in more plate appearances that don't end in outs, which will slow down the game, not speed it up


well then how do you explain the 1920s when baseball was at its highest scoring levels and the games were taking maybe a little over 2 hours?

I have never seen any study that has made a correlation between run scoring and time of game but ahead convince me...
   146. Sunday silence Posted: January 24, 2018 at 05:50 AM (#5612232)
No, but I have seen more than a few business studies that saw things like customers complaining about kiosks at the end of each aisle in some kind of superstore because they cluttered things up and made the things the customers said they wanted harder to find. When the store took out these kiosks, they found that customers were spending noticeably less money, and there was no increase in purchases of those items that were supposedly hard to find. How people vote with their mouth and how they vote with their wallet can show noticeable discrepancies.


SO what you're saying is that baseball has been deliberately slowing down the game for all these years in order to sell more cars and life insurance during commercials knowing full well that we as consumers would not vote with our dollars.

Glad to know.
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