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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Sky Is Falling, Baseball Is Dying, and the Roof May Leak

Some perspective from John Thorn.

Let’s focus for a moment on the elephant in the room: the commercial breaks that come with completed half innings or pitcher replacements. In the 2018 World Series each such instance consumed 2 minutes and 50 seconds. For easy mental computation let’s call it 3 minutes … multiplied by 17 in a nine-inning game won by the home team. 51 minutes. Let’s say that the two clubs combine to use nine pitchers, thus making seven changes. Add 21 minutes. Commercial breaks contribute more than an hour to a nine-inning game, making the two-and-a-half hour game of 1946 into the four-hour postseason game of today.

But somebody has to pay the freight for staging the games and broadcasting them: the networks, the sponsors, the fans. Could you lop 30 seconds off the breaks by allowing some commercials to run in split screen during an inning? That innovation could be one that fans will hate … or come to abide.

Ball player Pete O’Brien said: “Somehow or other, they don’t play ball nowadays as they used to some eight or ten years ago. I don’t mean to say they don’t play it as well. . . . But I mean that they don’t play with the same kind of feelings or for the same objects they used to. . . . It appears to me that ball matches have come to be controlled by different parties and for different purposes than those that prevailed in 1858 or 1859.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 20, 2018 at 06:05 AM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, pace of play

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   1. John DiFool2 Posted: November 20, 2018 at 08:36 AM (#5789498)
But somebody has to pay the freight for staging the games and broadcasting them: the networks, the sponsors, the fans. Could you lop 30 seconds off the breaks by allowing some commercials to run in split screen during an inning? That innovation could be one that fans will hate … or come to abide.


Umm, they are ALREADY doing that. Where TF have you been?
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: November 20, 2018 at 08:46 AM (#5789499)
But they aren't doing that John. They are using those commercials in addition to the breaks. Cutting back to 2 minutes between innings would make the commercials during the inning a lot more tolerable. Where I think Thorn is wrong is with this;

Let’s say that the two clubs combine to use nine pitchers, thus making seven changes. Add 21 minutes.


Cue the cfb batsignal but teams don't typically make seven changes during an inning over the course of the game. Most pitching changes take place between innings so he's double counting.
   3. McCoy Posted: November 20, 2018 at 09:10 AM (#5789508)
Going after commercials is shuffling deck chairs. That isn't where we're seeing the time loss. MLB should be telling umpires to treat these games like they are day games and there are no lights. Tell your umps to move the game along and enforce that and you'll see change. After every game you have MLB do a sitdown review with the umps. Why did you allow Cabrera to step out of the box? Why did you grant time? Why didn't you issue a warning? So on and so on.

Plus you then focus on the front offices and owners. It is one thing to grouse about the amount of time a game takes it is another thing to get buy in. Get the owners on board and then get the FO on board. Let them know there will be fines involved for delays and bonuses for the top quickest teams. Give teams incentives to work fast and disincentives to working slow.
   4. DL from MN Posted: November 20, 2018 at 10:10 AM (#5789543)
Could you lop 30 seconds off the breaks by allowing some commercials to run in split screen during an inning?


Not only are they already doing that during the World Series but they are also projecting advertisements behind the batter during the game along with all the signage inside the stadium that is picked up by the cameras. Baseball games are already one continuous advertisement.

I was pleased that we didn't see a mound visit every other pitch this year. That was an improvement.
   5. Man o' Schwar Posted: November 20, 2018 at 10:13 AM (#5789545)
The problem with fining guys is it's never enough to deter behavior. Taking $500 from a player after the third infraction, when the player is making $20 million, is like fining me about a dollar for being late to work. It's not going to make me set my alarm any earlier.

You fine the players, you fine the teams, and you start ejecting and then suspending the habitual offenders. They were able to curtail the mound visits pretty easily last year, just through the threat of enforcement. Did we even have a team that got to 6 mound visits? Do the same with the step outs, the time outs, and the slow pitching. After two weeks of showing everyone that they're serious about it, players will change.
   6. wjones Posted: November 20, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5789589)
Limit batters to one stepout per plate appearance. Any subsequent step out would need to be asked for time, which the ump can grant at his discretion (dust in the eye, foul ball to the nuts, etc.). Then umps who are above the curve in allowing additional step outs can be reviewed and counselled.
   7. Greg Pope Posted: November 20, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5789615)
Commercial breaks contribute more than an hour to a nine-inning game, making the two-and-a-half hour game of 1946 into the four-hour postseason game of today.


I might be missing something, but does this make sense? First of all, he adds 2.5 + 1 and gets 4. So he's still missing a half hour. But more importantly, the 1946 game did have some time between innings (I have to assume, I wasn't born yet). And they had to have some mid-inning pitching changes which also took time. But if there were 2 minutes between innings instead of 3, then he's only accounting for 17 minutes, not 51. If we had only added 17 minutes to the game, nobody would be complaining.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 20, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5789619)
The problem with fining guys is it's never enough to deter behavior. Taking $500 from a player after the third infraction, when the player is making $20 million, is like fining me about a dollar for being late to work. It's not going to make me set my alarm any earlier.

Don't fine them, award automatic strikes/balls.

If the batter is out of the box, any pitch the pitcher throws is a strike. If the pitcher exceeds the pitch clock, automatic ball.

The players don't career about a few thousand dollars, but they certainly care about the count.
   9. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: November 20, 2018 at 11:45 AM (#5789628)

Once again, we have someone missing the point; pace of game, rather than length, is what really matters aesthetically. Not that long commercials in the middle of a rally because the team used three different pitchers is a good thing, of course. But as for between-half-inning breaks, if the play flowed smoothly during the innings, the commercials wouldn't matter. (Indeed, we might welcome them as a change of pace from the game.)
   10. DJS Holiday-Related Pun Posted: November 20, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5789630)
Yeah, as David says, if there's a problem, it's not games that last three hours, it's games that last three hours but don't need to be three hours because of nonsense and filibustering.
   11. phredbird Posted: November 20, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5789633)

#3, stop making sense.

also, MLB needs to make players show more of their socks. the long pants thing looks stupid.

ps i am not a crackpot.
   12. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: November 20, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5789643)
I saw a lot of minor league ball this year, for the first time in ages. The pitch clock is awesome; the game moves along at a decent clip, and you never really notice the clock, because the players have all internalized it.
   13. Biscuit_pants Posted: November 20, 2018 at 12:10 PM (#5789647)
because the players have all internalized it.
Which is not good for their emotional health.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 20, 2018 at 12:21 PM (#5789658)
I saw a lot of minor league ball this year, for the first time in ages. The pitch clock is awesome; the game moves along at a decent clip, and you never really notice the clock, because the players have all internalized it.

What is the clock's duration? I'd like to see no more that 15 seconds with no one on. Maybe 20 with a man on.
   15. Karl from NY Posted: November 20, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5789758)
Even three hours isn't really a problem. It's the 3:45 games that somehow grind to 45 seconds between pitches and seven minutes between balls in play once the parade of relievers starts up.
   16. McCoy Posted: November 20, 2018 at 02:53 PM (#5789766)
#3, stop making sense.

also, MLB needs to make players show more of their socks. the long pants thing looks stupid.

ps i am not a crackpot.


And cut the number of games to 144!
   17. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: November 20, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5789775)
also, MLB needs to make players show more of their socks. the long pants thing looks stupid.


Paging Smitty*. Smitty*, please report to the thread.
   18. BrianBrianson Posted: November 20, 2018 at 03:09 PM (#5789778)
Which is not good for their emotional health.


I think you mean "physical health" since the internalising here is swallowing whole.
   19. Biscuit_pants Posted: November 20, 2018 at 03:46 PM (#5789789)
I think you mean "physical health" since the internalising here is swallowing whole.
ah, I see more the crocodile and captain Hook explanation. I took it to mean that they have great difficulty with the clock but stuff it down in a dark corner of their inner being. That 20 years from now a psychiatrist with a note pad* is asking the player why 20 seconds frightens them so much.

But I like your description better, it has the added benefit of scaring away pirates.


*it's 20 years from now so virtual assistant with a audio recording device implanted for perfect recall....their phychiatrist will have to deal with that 20 from then
   20. Bote Man Posted: November 20, 2018 at 04:05 PM (#5789798)
Flavor Flav just laaaaaaaaaaaaaughs!!
   21. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 20, 2018 at 05:55 PM (#5789840)
20 years from now, you think the psychiatrist will be a human?
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: November 20, 2018 at 07:29 PM (#5789858)
Cue the cfb batsignal but teams don't typically make seven changes during an inning over the course of the game. Most pitching changes take place between innings so he's double counting.


Not needed, apparently you got this. :) (glad to see I made some type of impression on this particular argument, but will admit that September is a different animal than the rest of the season...and something might need to happen there.)
   23. Stormy JE Posted: November 21, 2018 at 10:40 AM (#5789971)
With all of the commercials, ballpark billboards, and now intrusive in-inning promos, how are team uniforms not decorated with an advertiser's name? Anyone willing to guess when Yankee pinstripes will include a Bank of America logo?
   24. McCoy Posted: November 21, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5789976)
With the demise of US Steel they missed their window.
   25. bobm Posted: November 25, 2018 at 07:43 PM (#5790965)
FTFA:

Quality Starts — a term I have always hated, as it extolled the virtues of six innings with three earned runs (an ERA of 4.50) — diminished from 63 percent in 1968 to 41 percent last year.


QS does not "extol the virtues" of 6 IP, 3 ER starts. Only 9% of the QS in 2018 were of the 6 IP, 3 ER variety. The average ERA for a quality start was 1.79. 71% of QS had an ERA under 3.00; QS% with ERA of 3.00 or under rises to 84%.

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