Baseball players are slowing games down


Over the last decade, even die-hard baseball fans have been annoyed about the length of baseball games. People buy their tickets and sit in the stands for a 9-inning affair to be entertained by 9 men out in the field against 1 batter to make a nice play out in the field, watch a runner turn a single into a double, and most of all, to hit the towering, game-changing home run that gets the crowd roaring and on its feet. Though, when an average game is three hours and four minutes because of the non-action plays, plays that don’t involve safe hits, foul balls, outs, balls, and strikes, walks, etc. then the MLB has a problem. While games are four minutes quicker than last year, three hours for an average game of interruptions and stoppages can drive fans at the ballpark or on their couch nuts.

The reason for the delay of games are the pitchers and batters. Keenan Sanford, a student at Wilsonville High School, was asked whether pitchers or hitters were more to blame for slowing the game down, and he said “Pitchers because they control the game. When they come off the mound, they’ll walk around and collect their thoughts and even when they’re on the rubber, they’ll take up more time just to get on the same page with the catcher.” While pitchers are a big reason for slowing games down, so are batters.

“Hitters adjust their batting gloves and do their thing in between each pitch,” said Cooper McQueen, another student at Wilsonville high. If the game is ever going to become quicker and waste less time, the actuals are going to be up to the task because after all, they are the ones who are playing the game. 

And it wasn’t so long ago when baseball games were under three hours. “There have been imperceptible changes, such as the time allotted to pitchers between each pitch, like Pedro Baez,” said David Saccente, a former Wilsonville baseball coach. With these changes over the years, games are just naturally going to slow down This something 50 years, 30 years, even 20 years ago that was not an issue because pitchers and batters never took their time on purpose. Aside from 2000, an average MLB game was under three hours even in this century, including a low of 2:49 in 2003 and 2005, according to Baseball-Reference. So, it’s not like this is a pattern that fans have or ever should become accustomed to.

Of course, not all of the players are willing to speed up to help the game. So, there could be some rules implemented into the games to push pitchers and batters not to take all day to get in the batter’s box or throw the baseball. For pitchers, “Umps can call a delay of on the pitcher and if they continuously take their time, the ump can call an automatic ball on them,” said Mr. Sanford. A very similar rule can be addressed towards hitters as “They would have seven seconds to readjust and get back in the box, and if they fail to get back in the batter’s box in time, they would have an automatic strike called on them,” said Mr. McQueen.

But not everyone believes in a clock for a multitude of reasons. “…how do you pick off and play games with the runner, how do you get the hitter to become impatient and chase a change-up outside after a 7-second hold. How do you get a base runner to expose his steal intentions if we are always worried about how much time is left on the clock,” said Coach Bryn Card, the head coach of the Wilsonville Wildcats Varsity baseball team. 

Even with the clock, baseball is still a mind game. The pitcher can still fool the hitter if the hitter expects one pitch but is pitched another. Pitchers would still be able to pick off runners, they can do it less often since runners nowadays don’t steal nearly as much as they used to. It’s not like this game is going to takeaway base runners once the hitter reaches base, it’s just base runner will be a less integral part of this game with teams already going away from stealing and the hit and run and even something as simple as moving runners over. And even with the few ballplayers that still steal some bags, the great pitchers can still detect a base-runners stealing intentions without thinking about the clock, the clock is just there for the pitchers who are so deliberate, that they don’t usually worry about base runners anyways.  

Baseball had already started a pitch clock in the Minor Leagues just this year, where  “Pitchers will get a 15-second window to begin their delivery without runners on base. With base runners, they’ll get a 20-second window” (Jacob Bogage, par. 5). The Minor Leagues have also found ways to speed hitters up as, “If a batter is not in the batter’s box or “alert to the pitcher” with seven seconds left on the clock, umpires will award a strike to the count” (Bogage, par. 6). So, if these rules were to implemented into the major leagues, pitchers like Pedro Baez, who average

31.1 seconds between each pitch (Lucas Casaletto, par. 16), and hitters like Odubel Herrera, who took 29.3 seconds in between each pitch (Zachary D. Rymer, par. 38), would have to speed in order to keep up with the changes. 

While these rules might some players uncomfortable since they like to take their time in between each pitch, those players, which is only some of the players in the league, will have to keep up with those new rules and it’s the only way the game will be faster and more entertaining for the viewers watching the game at home or at the ballpark. As this is Commissioner Rob Manfred’s goal to “help games fit into three-hour broadcast windows” (Bogage, par. 2).