The common complaint for most people who don’t like baseball is, “it’s too slow, and boring.” That is a legitimate complaint for even the most diehard fans of baseball at times. How often is it that in between pitches the pitcher, walks around the mound, steps off the mound, adjusts himself, calls off pitches, asks for time, then a batter asks for time, rearranges his gloves, knocks the dirt off his cleats, and takes a couple practice swings? It can get very annoying, so annoying that after a few innings many people are changing the channel. For the first time in the history of the MLB, games are averaging over three hours, and at the same time, are scoring the lowest amount of runs in almost 40 years.
Something simply needs to be done about the pace of the game, and it starts at the top of the baseball hierarchy. This ‘pace of game’ committee will include Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Braves President John Schuerholz, Tony Clark, the director of the MLB Players Association, Tom Werner and Michael Gordon of the Boston Red Sox, Joe Torre, and the next commissioner of the MLB, Rob Manfred. The outcome of the decision made by this committee could either help or hurt Manfred’s credibility right out of the gate. By the time all of this is implemented, Manfred will be the commissioner, so it’s up to him to get this right the first time.
There already is a rule implemented that is supposed to speed the game up, although it’s very rarely enforced, Rule 8.04 states “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ball. The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball.” That amount of time between pitches seems sufficient, but it’s rarely 12 seconds. The committee may also look to revise the replay rules to make it quicker also.
Such a slow pace is a problem, and not all pitchers are guilty of it. Guys like Mark Buerhle are great because, once the catcher throws him the ball; he instantly sets up again, and is ready to pitch. Guys like David Price, and Clay Buchholz on the other hand are the two pitchers who make the game go by so unbelievably slow. Greg Maddux even pitched a few games in under two hours, now these guys aren’t Greg Maddux, but this committee is a start to changing the pace of the game. At least watching Price fans know they will see some dominant pitching, watching Clay Buchholz, at least this season is like watching a train wreck, in slow motion. Hopefully this committee will be able to fix some of the game pace problems, which in turn would gain some new fans.