Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is pace of game really a problem?

Right now pace of game is a really hot topic in baseball, as most of you probably know. And today, for the first time since Joe West's unprofessional comments (in my opinion) about the season-opening Yankees-Red Sox series, the baseball commissioner spoke his mind on the issue.

For the last few years Selig has been talking about how he would like to improve the pace of game, and a few changes have been made, such as fining players who take too long to do certain things. As most people know, Jonathan Papelbon was fined multiple times this year. It's also been known that the "special committee" for baseball that Selig has appointed has been working on the issue, although it has taken a back seat to the idea of changing divisional alignment in baseball. Despite knowing all this, reading Selig's comments about the need for a change of pace of game are interesting. He seems to feel shortening the game will make it appeal to more people, and I can see where he is coming from to a degree, but I think there is a fallacy in his argument.

Firstly, the two teams that most often make their games last 3 and a half hours or more are the Yankees and the Red Sox. There are enough die hard fans of these two teams that love the long games, especially the games between the two teams, that shortening the game might actually take something away for them. For them (and I am speaking of one of them) shortening the game would be like leaving an extremely good movie in the middle of it, or deciding to stop eating a meal they are really enjoying in the middle of it. What I'm saying is, most of the people that really enjoy baseball aren't bothered by the pace of game for the most part, no matter who their team is, they just enjoy watching their team. While I understand wanting to expand the game to become more popular and compete more closely with the NFL and the NBA, shouldn't the main goal be to entertain the fans that really love the game?

The length of the games is also beneficial monetarily, because it leads to more advertising time for sponsors. Additionally, part of the reason for long baseball games are commercial breaks themselves, since teams and pitchers don't really need the amount of time they are given to get ready for the next inning or hitter, and there is definitely no way that ad-breaks are going to be shortened or eliminated from the game because that would mean a loss of money.

I agree that some things need to be done to fix the pace of game. There should be a limit on how many times a catcher can visit a pitcher on the mound in a single inning for sure, and there should probably be stricter limits on when a hitter can ask for time. Most of the time when I see a hitter ask for time, it's actually something that can be pinned on the pitcher, who is holding the ball extra long to throw off a hitter's timing, so you can blame them for getting out of the box? Stepping out of the box for no real reason needs to be stopped though, even though it would be really hard to institute a rule that prevents it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on possible reforms in pace of game in baseball, what are your thoughts? Also, if you didn't notice, there is now a poll on the right-hand side of my blog that is related to Bud Selig's "special committee", don't forget to vote!


Andrew said...

Your arguments are anything but objective on this subject. While I too enjoy a long baseball game, I prefer that it be long because there is extra baseball at the end of it, not simply because the players themselves can't be bothered to move along with it. I hold a bit of a grudge against both the Yankees and the Red Sox, but even without taking cheap shots at the both of them, the players really should be more dedicated to expediting the game. Furthermore, I think Joe West's tone was inappropriate, but it IS his job to keep the pace of the game quick, and his frustration with how difficult that had become is completely understandable.

Jacob said...

I agree that I'm a little biased about it, and I mention that in the blog post. haha. I still feel that, for instance, if you were watching a Braves game that was really long you would be happy to watch the whole thing. I agree that some things need to be done to expedite the game, such as those I stated, I just think it's overstated. There isn't much they can do about the patience that both of those line-ups have, but there are things that can be done about the wastes of time.
Like Mariano Rivera said: "Do you want us to swing at balls?".