The 2023 MLB season will be one of the most exciting since the turn of the century. MLB has implemented rule changes to reduce the games’ lengths and increase the action on the field.
These rule improvements have reduced the average length of games by 25 minutes in Spring Training. In some cases, games were played in under two hours, a regular recurrence in the 1970s and 1980s.
The reduction in the game length has led to younger baseball fans – writing to anyone under 40 – decrying the shorter games on Twitter, sports talk radio, and baseball message boards.
These complaints commence with if they are late to attend the start of the game, they could miss up to the first three innings. These fans are not fans. They are the same attendees who routinely leave games after the 7th inning. In a 9-inning game, they would miss half of the game. The other popular complaint, even more ridiculous, is the ticket cost per minute. In their eyes, they are paying for 3 hours of entertainment, now being reduced to 2 hours and 16 minutes.
Unlike the NFL, the NBA, and the NHL – which have seen their sports-televised audiences and advertiser appeal grow – MLB has been stuck in neutral or, at times, going in reverse. MLB needed to quicken the pace of play to appeal to the short attention span of younger generations. What are the rule changes that are the ire of baseball fans?
- The shift is now illegal. Teams may no longer overload one side of the infield, and all infield players’ feet must be on the dirt.
- Pitch clock. Pitchers have a set time limit to deliver a pitch to the catcher. The umpire dictates when the pitch clock starts.
- Hitter clock. Hitters must be alert to bat with no less than 8 seconds left on a clock.
- Batters Box. Hitters may receive up to 1 timeout per plate appearance.
- Runners on Base. Pitchers may only disengage from the rubber twice per plate appearance when a runner is on base, including the number of pickoff attempts.
- Bigger bases. Except for the size of homeplate, MLB increased base sizes to increase steal attempts and scoring.
Could you imagine having an additional 25 to 45 minutes in your day and complaining? I grew up watching baseball in the 70s; shorter games are entertaining and more appealing. Eventually, younger baseball fans will learn.