By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — With an all-time high of three hours, five minutes for the average length of a baseball game in 2017, Major League Baseball is going backward from commissioner Rob Manfred’s mandate.
When assuming office, the man who succeeded Bud Selig in the big chair wanted to cut down on time of the game and inactivity in the sport. Manfred believed dead time and length of games had to be addressed.
The Manfred doctrine espoused a time clock for pitchers and a penalty for hitters who don’t stay in the batter’s box for an entire at-bat. Both were good ideas, but neither really have been enforced at this point. Agreements must be hammered out by Manfred and the players’ union. No rules can permanently be implemented without both sides ratifying it in writing. After a one-year experiment, the new rules have been shelved.
Although managers and players are aware of the extended length of games, not many seem to concern themselves about time once a contest begins.
“Everybody has their own tempo,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “The batters have it, and the pitchers do as well. There are also times where we are waiting for the viewing public to get back. Cameras and other factors come into it as well. There are certainly other factors involved in extending the timeline. I will be honest, when I am sitting in the dugout, I don’t think about time. Replay affects time. I wish I had the answer, but I don’t.”
The Yankees and White Sox had a 55-minute eighth inning Tuesday evening.
“I don’t think that wears on you when it goes right for your team,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it is somewhat of an issue. I think the bigger issue we are talking about isn’t the game but the pace of the action — the time in between when balls are put in play. If you look, the average is three to four minutes. That is a long time for nothing to really happen in a sense. If you have a game that is three-and-a-half hours long and it’s packed with action, people love it. It is the pace of the action. It is important because you want people to love your product.”
The players are aware of the extended games they have been playing the last couple of seasons.
“The games have been longer, White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We feel it. Sometimes I will turn to an umpire and say, ‘This game is taking forever.’ What else are we going to do? We can’t just put a clock on everything.”
Catcher visits to the mound have noticeably up-ticked in the last couple of seasons.
“You do see it a lot more often now,” Frazier said about this latest tactic that has added time to game clocks. “That eighth inning the other night was an example. We hope the pace of the game does pick up.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.