Nate Graziano says Minor League Baseball’s 20-second rule actually improves the game — and might fix MLB’s problem with irritated fans.
In my libidinous adolescent years, 20 seconds felt like a long time—an accomplishment even. It’s not. It is roughly the same amount of time it might take a person to tie their shoes or thoroughly butter a piece of bread.
Now in Minor League Baseball, it is also the amount of time between pitches that pitchers have to be set on the mound or begin their wind-up and, for hitters, they need to be ready in the batter’s box.
My son and I recently attended a New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ game against the Portland Sea Dogs where the pace-of-game rules have been implemented. Along with the pitch clock, the teams have two minutes and 25 seconds between innings and after pitching changes to be ready to resume play.
I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat of a baseball purist, and I wrote an article before the season claiming that the pace of the game wasn’t the problem, stating that the problem was instead the fans’ point-and-click, flea-like attention spasms and their inability to pay attention to anything for any substantial amount of time.
However, after watching a game where the new rules were enforced and time clocks hung throughout the ballpark, I have to say that my argument was egregiously misinformed.
In other words, I was wrong.
The game Owen and I watched finished in a little over two-hours on an afternoon flirting with 100 degrees and high humidity. There was little time spent bored and baking in the grandstands, waiting for the hitters to adjust their batting gloves and cups, or pitchers to mull over signs.
A friend and I were recently discussing the topic over a couple of cold ones, and he theorized that the epic Red Sox/Yankees four-hour marathons may have been the impetus to the new rules. And certainly that is part of it. We can all remember Josh Beckett ordering pizzas between pitches or David Ortiz stepping out of the batter’s box to hang curtains in the clubhouse.
This also belies a larger problem in the MLB, which is a public relations problem between players and fans. Even a casual fan could tell you that the contracts issued to baseball players are exorbitant and obscene, and it is beyond irritating to watch players who make more in a single at-bat than most of us earn in year to loaf around the field, taking their sweet-ass time, and subsequently, the fans’ time as well.
I certainly understand that for many fans—like me—the slow, methodical pace of baseball is part of its calming appeal. But these new rules, designed to quicken the pace, do not—as I originally argued—detract from the experience of watching baseball. In fact, it is quite the opposite, and I hope the new commissioner Rob Manfred takes notice of this for next season.
Originally published at Dirty Water News. Reprinted with permission.
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