Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Baseball wants to try to fix its pace-of-play issue by potentially automatically putting a runner on second base to start the 11th inning and every inning from beyond, according to a report. However, this stupid rule would have nothing to do with fixing the pace of baseball games.

Major League Baseball has been experimenting with different ways to improve the sport, and specifically quicken the pace of the game – the newest fad is reported to be adding a runner in the 11th inning in the All-Star Game. The Associated Press also reports that this fad would be tested in the 10th inning of spring training games.

Let’s get one thing straight – there is nothing wrong with MLB wanting to improve the game and quicken it. As much as people say that baseball is a “smart person’s sport,” the sport cannot continue to struggle with losing viewers during bullpen changes and while batters are calling timeouts just to readjust their batting gloves.

However, while Major League Baseball has good intentions, they are making bad decisions, this being one of them.

Baseball games took an average of three hours and five minutes to complete in 2017, which was a slight increase from the three hour and 42 seconds from the year before. Keep in mind that this number includes all games such as rainouts that ended prior to the ninth inning and games that went into extras, so the number may be a little skewed when looking at average nine-inning games. However, it seems safe to assume there are enough outliers to make this 3:05 equivalent to a nine-inning game.

But what MLB is failing to understand with this potential rule change is that extra-inning games have no correlation to pace of play – pace could, and does, lead to length, but length does not always increase due to pace.

If a game goes into extra innings, it’s not because Gary Sanchez took his 100th trip to the mound to discuss whether or not he and the pitcher are going on their second or third sign with a man on second. That happens just because no one has won yet.

At the end of the day, mound visits, bullpen changes, and chats between pitchers and catchers where they act like lip-reading is the end of the world are all part of the strategy for the ultimate goal: to come away with the win. But it’s rare to see someone complaining about how long a game is taking when it’s in extra-innings.

Gary Sanchez, MLB
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It is a rarity in the sport – the New York Yankees and New York Mets both played in just 11 extra-inning games out of 162 in 2017.

It is understandable for adults to not watch extra innings when they have work, or children not to watch when they have school the next morning (save the argument that they “aren’t true fans”). Ultimately, people have lives to live but this is where the MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred are hypocritical and, once again, wrong.

Baseball wants games to end earlier, but the league has no problem starting each World Series game past many bedtimes for early risers.

Think of all of the times when baseball fans switch the channel: bullpen changes, mound visits, batters calling timeout, challenges.

Now think of all the times where football fans switch the channel. There aren’t many, despite the sport’s contests being longer than baseball games, according to FiveThirtyEight. Why? There is not a lot of downtime.

But one thing is for sure: the baseball fan is not changing the channel during extra innings – not when every pitch becomes the most important of the game.

The change will also screw up with statistics. Pitchers’ ERAs will skyrocket, considering the pitcher has 180 less feet to work with on a batter. A sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, and strikeout, a three-up, three-down inning, could wind up in an ERA of 9. That is unfair to every reliever in the league in that situation, statistically speaking.

However, it’s doubtful the league will complain when Yankee games are ending a half hour earlier six times in April.

Yes, the Yankees will have a start time of 6:35 p.m. at Yankee Stadium in the first full month of the season. The length might stay with the game, but if fans are home earlier, the complaints with go down immensely.

While MLB has made great efforts to speed up the game, the league cannot confuse two completely separate entities.


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