MLB’s Pace-of-Play Rules: Its Need and Latest Updates

by Clayton Richer | Posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2018
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Every sport in sports history has adapted in consonance with the changing preferences of people and the advancement of technology, a classic example being the virtual reality makeover of the poker table. Such is the case with Major League Baseball. But the latest proposals for changes in rules by the MLB has been witnessing some resistance from different stakeholders, including the players’ association, the MLBPA.

As per the information provided by MLB website, and as we all fans know very well, this is not the first attempt by the MLB to tweak pace-of-play rules. The MLB has been consistently trying to improve the Pace-of-Play rulebook ever since the 2014 season. In 2015, some major strides were made toward this, starting with the strict implementation of batter’s box rule. This rule mandated while they bat hitters to keep one foot in the box during the normal course of play unless otherwise mandated by exceptional circumstances.

The year 2015 also witnessed the installation of timers in Major League stadiums. This move was mainly intended to measure the break time between innings and pitching changes. Because of these pace-of-play measures implemented in 2015, the average nine-inning game time got reduced significantly from 3 hours and 2 minutes to 2 hours and 56 minutes. In continuation of its pace-of-play efforts, in 2016, the MLB also reduced the time between innings by 20 seconds relative to 2015 for broadcasts.

Karl Bolt, then a senior cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, connects on the first of his two home runs during a game March 22 against San Diego State. Recently graduated from the academy, Bolt was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 15th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft June 8. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

In its latest attempt to evolve and improve the sport, the MLB has proposed to change the pace-of-play rules prior to the 2018 season. According to the latest reports available, these proposed changes include a 20-second pitch clock and limits in-mound visits. The players association is allegedly against the changes, but are open to other changes that may increase the pace-of-play without disruption.

Though the MLBPA is resisting, the MLB has the authority to implement the proposed changes unilaterally as it is empowered by Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Still, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Rob Manfred is consistently insisting that the MLB wants to make changes with MLBPA cooperation, which, in cooperation with the openness of player’s association toward mutually-acceptable rule changes, is keeping the dialogue open. Another positive factor amongst this uncertainty is that both sides appear very cool and relaxed as though they are enjoying Texas Hold ‘Em.

Even while the discussion is going on, there is no contention that good pace-of-play rules are essential, no matter whether it is a field sport like baseball or an off-field game like blackjack. Without a doubt, better pace-of-play is invariably beneficial for all stakeholders. Apart from helping to maintain the mental and physical fitness of players, good pace-of-play not only improves the experience but also returns better cost efficiency. Another advantage is that it may help reduce the unwanted or junk food/beverage consumption by spectators. Thus, it will be in the interest of all to assimilate changes that are progressive and improve the pace-of-play.

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Clayton Richer
About the Author

Clayton Richer is an MLB scribe from north of the border with a slight bias for the Toronto Blue Jays. Clayton has also been the shop-keeper at Baseball Hot Corner since the sites inception in 2012. Follow and interact with Clayton on Twitter @MLBHotCorner or @ClaytonRicher

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