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MLB and Union talk major rule changes

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58 minutes ago, Moose Milligan said:

Three batter minimum is stupid.

Agreed.  It seems to me such a rule would cause far more problems than it solves.  I have little doubt that if this rule takes effect we will suddenly see a lot of pitchers falling down and holding a knee and roll back and forth while moaning in pain like a soccer player to fake an injury to enable a replacement.  The trainer will come out, stretcher bearers will cart him off after a five minute display of agony.  The next day the player will make a miraculous recovery.  I don't even think the desired effect will happen in any case.  Increased offense adds more time to games than what little time a pitching change or two does.  And you're still going to have the pitching change, but only after more runners have reached base if the pitcher doesn't have it that day.  Net effect will be to lengthen games, not shorten them, IMO.  And most certainly the grand total of new fans this rule change will attract to the game is almost sure to be... exactly zero.  The only change that baseball really needs, IMO, is a new commissioner.

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46 minutes ago, DrungoHazewood said:

I think the risk could work out for generic relievers, but then you lose the reliever for the day unless you plan on pitching him in the 2nd inning.   No decent starter is ever going to play RF so that he can be designated a two-way player and essentially be a 14th pitcher.

We're talking tiny fractions of wins here.  An average pitcher is probably a -30 LFer, or worse.  The starter is going to lose it the first time Darren O'Day spins around three times, falls down, and turns a routine fly ball into a triple.  There may be odd cases where you have a really athletic pitcher and Maddon is the manager... but this is going to be like the part of the balk rule about not facing the batter when he pitches.  It'll be on the books and essentially forgotten for decades.

I agree that in general it won't really be worth the trouble. My thought is maybe you work this system all year, then by time the playoffs roll around you have 3 or 5 "two-way" players on the staff. Now your year 2023 10 man limited staff can be a 13 man staff for the playoffs and you can bring in shut down relievers in the 6th like it's 2017. What's a -30 LF mean when it's only 20 or 40 innings anyway?

This is all off the cuff and I have no clue if it's worth it, but I never expected openers to become a thing either. And even fractions of a win in a playoff series are something.  

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8 minutes ago, Number5 said:

Agreed.  It seems to me such a rule would cause far more problems than it solves.  I have little doubt that if this rule takes effect we will suddenly see a lot of pitchers falling down and holding a knee and roll back and forth while moaning in pain like a soccer player to fake an injury to enable a replacement.  The trainer will come out, stretcher bearers will cart him off after a five minute display of agony.  The next day the player will make a miraculous recovery.  I don't even think the desired effect will happen in any case.  Increased offense adds more time to games than what little time a pitching change or two does.  And you're still going to have the pitching change, but only after more runners have reached base if the pitcher doesn't have it that day.  Net effect will be to lengthen games, not shorten them, IMO.  And most certainly the grand total of new fans this rule change will attract to the game is almost sure to be... exactly zero.  The only change that baseball really needs, IMO, is a new commissioner.

Uh oh.  You brought up soccer.  Drungo will be here to eviscerate you shortly.  

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22 minutes ago, Moose Milligan said:

Uh oh.  You brought up soccer.  Drungo will be here to eviscerate you shortly.  

Soccer does have a problem with faking injuries.  It's hard to deal with because it's difficult to tell what's real and what's fake, especially in real time, and there are incentives for successfully faking (free kicks leading to scoring opportunities).  You do see the occasional caution for faking.

In baseball it's relatively easy to deal with pitchers faking injuries to get around the three batter rule.  You make a rule that says if you come out due to injury prior to three batters you can't pitch for five days.

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56 minutes ago, Moose Milligan said:

The length of a game has been hovering around 3 hours for quite some time now.  Meanwhile NFL games take 3 hours, no one's crying about that.  The inherent issue, the elephant in the room is that baseball is boring.  It's a slow pace with quick bursts of action and no matter what they do, the game will always be slow.

If there was a way to get an MLB game down to 2 hours, 30 minutes, I'd be all for it.  But to shave off 5 minutes and act like it's a big deal is a bit absurd, IMO.  To your point, I don't see how a 9 inning MLB game gets any significantly longer from here on out.  I don't think we'll be looking at 4 hour games in 2030.

If you implement a number of five minute fixes you can get to 2:30 games.  If you throw up your hands and accept 3+ hour games you get nowhere, and the times will continue to increase.  Nobody cries about the NFL because the NFL plays once a week, usually in the afternoon.  You can devote as much time to the Orioles in the first two and a half weeks of April as you do to the Ravens all season.

Baseball used to be less boring.  The action to standing around ratio was larger.  Two, two-and-a-half hour games were standard.  There were no fixed commercial break times, there were few pitching changes, and there were three or four strikeouts per team per game.  The game moved along because there were no lights and most games couldn't be completed if you let it go on 3-4 hours.  It's not like this is some made-up world, this was how baseball was played for 100 years.

Today there are many incentives for drawing out games.  Pitchers slow down as a strategy, to throw off batters and baserunners.  Batters step out to disrupt pitchers.  More pitchers in short stints are more effective.   Mound visits have advantages for the pitching team.  But there are few/no incentives to speed up.  So, like the ever increasing strikeouts, there is no natural bound on game time, there are asymmetrical pressures.  I think we will eventually see 3:30 games, maybe 4:00, because there is no pressure to not do that, and plenty of advantages.  In 1990 I would have never thought we'd be over a strikeout a team an inning without major rules changes, but with asymmetrical pressures and no natural bounds, here we are.

The only thing that will stop any of this is someone stepping in and trying to change things for the better.

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7 minutes ago, DrungoHazewood said:

If you implement a number of five minute fixes you can get to 2:30 games.  If you throw up your hands and accept 3+ hour games you get nowhere, and the times will continue to increase.  Nobody cries about the NFL because the NFL plays once a week, usually in the afternoon.  You can devote as much time to the Orioles in the first two and a half weeks of April as you do to the Ravens all season.

Baseball used to be less boring.  The action to standing around ratio was larger.  Two, two-and-a-half hour games were standard.  There were no fixed commercial break times, there were few pitching changes, and there were three or four strikeouts per team per game.  The game moved along because there were no lights and most games couldn't be completed if you let it go on 3-4 hours.  It's not like this is some made-up world, this was how baseball was played for 100 years.

Today there are many incentives for drawing out games.  Pitchers slow down as a strategy, to throw off batters and baserunners.  Batters step out to disrupt pitchers.  More pitchers in short stints are more effective.   Mound visits have advantages for the pitching team.  But there are few/no incentives to speed up.  So, like the ever increasing strikeouts, there is no natural bound on game time, there are asymmetrical pressures.  I think we will eventually see 3:30 games, maybe 4:00, because there is no pressure to not do that, and plenty of advantages.  In 1990 I would have never thought we'd be over a strikeout a team an inning without major rules changes, but with asymmetrical pressures and no natural bounds, here we are.

The only thing that will stop any of this is someone stepping in and trying to change things for the better.

Alright, well tell me which 5 minute changes that are realistic that you'd like to see implemented to get to 2:30 games.

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Here's a list of average game times over time.

In 1990 games were about 15 minutes shorter.  In 1970 they were 35 minutes shorter.  From 1950-80 2:30 was standard.  Prior to WWII the average was under 2:00.

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56 minutes ago, Moose Milligan said:

The length of a game has been hovering around 3 hours for quite some time now.  Meanwhile NFL games take 3 hours, no one's crying about that.  The inherent issue, the elephant in the room is that baseball is boring.  It's a slow pace with quick bursts of action and no matter what they do, the game will always be slow.

If there was a way to get an MLB game down to 2 hours, 30 minutes, I'd be all for it.  But to shave off 5 minutes and act like it's a big deal is a bit absurd, IMO.  To your point, I don't see how a 9 inning MLB game gets any significantly longer from here on out.  I don't think we'll be looking at 4 hour games in 2030.

MLB wants to have its cake and eat it, too.  They want homers, high scoring, big offensive numbers because that's what sells but at the same time they want to shorten the length of games.  More runs, more offense = longer innings, longer games.  They know they can't sell a 2-1 pitchers duel that takes 2:45.  So which is it?

Then in order to save 5 precious minutes, they're going to start messing with the integrity of the game, imposing new rules on strategy in order to shave off a few minutes, puff their chest out and say "WE'VE SHORTENED THE GAME BY 7 MINUTES ON AVERAGE!"

Well, great.  You got it down from 3:12 to 3:05.  Is that really fighting for fans?  Or is that akin to trying to knock out Mike Tyson with a feather duster?

Football games have gotten longer too, and I’m against that as well.    

I agree that to make a material difference they’d need to get 20-30 minutes wrung out.    

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Subject to discussions with broadcast partners, innings breaks will be reduced from 2:05 to 2:00 in local games, and 2:25 to 2:00 in national games.

All that to trim 85 seconds on most games.  
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Just now, Moose Milligan said:

Alright, well tell me which 5 minute changes that are realistic that you'd like to see implemented to get to 2:30 games.

Shorten commercial breaks, charge more for each commercial.

Aggressively enforce no stepping out of the box.

Limiting in-inning pitching changes.  My preference would be none, unless the pitcher has been charged with 3+ runs.

Each throw by a pitcher to a base that doesn't pick off the runner counts as a ball to the batter.

No mound visits... or you get 2-3 30 second timeouts per game for all of your arguing, mound visits, umpire rule clarifications, whatever.  Penalty for violation of the 30 seconds is a) if your team is at bat the batter is out.  b) if you're in the field the opponent's batter gets first base via automatic walk.

All reviews are done in the pressbox in near realtime.  No challenges.  If the ump in the box sees something on replay that needs fixing before the next batter steps in, he calls down and fixes it.  If the replay result is not clear within the timing of natural flow of the game the call on the field stands.

If in-inning pitching changes are still allowed, the pitcher has one minute from the time the manager signals for the change to be ready to pitch.

The umpire actually, really calls a ball if the pitcher violates the (already existing) rule 5.07(c) to throw a pitch within 12 seconds.

Umpires are instructed to not grant timeout to the batter unless he clearly has an injury.

If Nomar comes back and plays with his batting gloves 23 times between each pitch he's banned from all MLB parks for life.

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1 hour ago, DrungoHazewood said:

Shorten commercial breaks, charge more for each commercial.

Aggressively enforce no stepping out of the box.

Limiting in-inning pitching changes.  My preference would be none, unless the pitcher has been charged with 3+ runs.

Each throw by a pitcher to a base that doesn't pick off the runner counts as a ball to the batter.

No mound visits... or you get 2-3 30 second timeouts per game for all of your arguing, mound visits, umpire rule clarifications, whatever.  Penalty for violation of the 30 seconds is a) if your team is at bat the batter is out.  b) if you're in the field the opponent's batter gets first base via automatic walk.

All reviews are done in the pressbox in near realtime.  No challenges.  If the ump in the box sees something on replay that needs fixing before the next batter steps in, he calls down and fixes it.  If the replay result is not clear within the timing of natural flow of the game the call on the field stands.

If in-inning pitching changes are still allowed, the pitcher has one minute from the time the manager signals for the change to be ready to pitch.

The umpire actually, really calls a ball if the pitcher violates the (already existing) rule 5.07(c) to throw a pitch within 12 seconds.anned from all MLB parks for life.

The emboldened makes sense.  The rest, not so much, IMO.  Mike Hargrove used to be called "the human rain delay" for the time he took stepping out of the box between pitches.  The umpires shouldn't have allowed it.  Opened Pandora's box.  Now more hitters act like Hargrove than not.  As you said, Nomar exacerbated it.  When these players were in rec ball, travel ball, high school, and college, the plate umpire told them to get in the box.  I wouldn't doubt if the same is true for minor leagues.  There is just no reason for MLB umpires to continue to allow these needless delays between pitches.

Yeah, shortening commercial breaks and charging more for ads might be nice, but I'm not sure that they are really practical ideas, if you want to maintain the revenue stream.  Aggravating your sponsors doesn't tend to be a good business move.  As TonySoprano noted above, the five second reduction between innings is really negligible.  Hardly worth a potential revenue reduction, IMO.

Bullpens are located beyond the outfield fence at most parks now.  That quite simply causes the relief pitcher to take a little more time to get in than when most bullpens were in foul territory along the foul lines.  Only three MLB parks still have the bullpens in play like that, and it is a safety hazard.  Mac Williamson suffered a pretty serious concussion tripping over the bullpen mound in San Francisco last year.  I don't think we will be seeing a movement to move bullpens back into foul territory.  Taking a minute to throw warm-ups simply isn't the issue people are pretending that it is.  Not one person that currently doesn't like baseball will become a fan because warm-up times are reduced.

Not allowing pitchers to defend against big leads and stolen bases fundamentally changes the game and most certainly would do nothing to reduce game time.  Vastly reducing double plays and increasing scoring would increase game times, not reduce them.

It's fine to have ideas, but so many of these things would have unintended consequences that simply aren't being thought through by their proponents, IMO.

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1 hour ago, DrungoHazewood said:

Shorten commercial breaks, charge more for each commercial. Yes

Aggressively enforce no stepping out of the box. yes

Limiting in-inning pitching changes.  My preference would be none, unless the pitcher has been charged with 3+ runs.  no 

Each throw by a pitcher to a base that doesn't pick off the runner counts as a ball to the batter.  no

No mound visits... or you get 2-3 30 second timeouts per game for all of your arguing, mound visits, umpire rule clarifications, whatever.  Penalty for violation of the 30 seconds is a) if your team is at bat the batter is out.  b) if you're in the field the opponent's batter gets first base via automatic walk. no (or one mound visit per inning)

All reviews are done in the pressbox in near realtime.  No challenges.  If the ump in the box sees something on replay that needs fixing before the next batter steps in, he calls down and fixes it.  If the replay result is not clear within the timing of natural flow of the game the call on the field stands. yes

If in-inning pitching changes are still allowed, the pitcher has one minute from the time the manager signals for the change to be ready to pitch.yes

The umpire actually, really calls a ball if the pitcher violates the (already existing) rule 5.07(c) to throw a pitch within 12 seconds. yes

Umpires are instructed to not grant timeout to the batter unless he clearly has an injury. no

If Nomar comes back and plays with his batting gloves 23 times between each pitch he's banned from all MLB parks for life. yes

I think some are realistic, others not.  Some mess with the integrity and strategy of the game for my liking.  

 

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1 hour ago, Number5 said:

Not one person that currently doesn't like baseball will become a fan because warm-up times are reduced.

I keep hearing this, but then I don't hear many recommendations for recruiting the next generation of fans to baseball.  The average age of a MLB television viewer is 57,  or at least that's what the first result said when I Googled it.  The average NBA viewer is 15 years younger.  I'd bet American soccer and hockey fans are, on average, a lot younger than 57.  

Baseball is whistling past the graveyard.  Revenues are at record levels.  But the baby boomers aren't going to be here forever.  Gen Xers are in their 40s and 50s.  

If you're not willing to entertain even incremental changes to appeal to younger people, you're eventually going to have to deal with MLB being a very niche product with lower revenues and a smaller fanbase.  Attendance is down 10,000,000 since the peak in 2007.  Not that much, I guess.  I'm sure it's just a blip, it'll come back.  No need to worry, right?  Eventually the kids will come around to pastoral beauty of three hour games with three homers, 18 strikeouts, 12 pitching changes and 15 hits.

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3 hours ago, Frobby said:

Football games have gotten longer too, and I’m against that as well.    

I agree that to make a material difference they’d need to get 20-30 minutes wrung out.    

Attending a non-competitive college football game is now a truly miserable experience because of the time issue.  The TV time outs seem to last forever and there seem to be an infinite number of them when you are in the stadium for a slow moving game. Very frustrating. 

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