Crasnick: MLB addresses pace of play in the Arizona Fall League

From SABR member Jerry Crasnick at on November 20, 2014:

When Mark Appel was pitching at Stanford, coach Mark Marquess occasionally dusted off a time-honored baseball principle to remind the Cardinal players that no lead was big enough to feel safe and no deficit too overwhelming to overcome.

“He would always say, ‘There’s no clock in this game’ — meaning, ‘The game is never over. If you’re up by 10 runs, you can’t run out the clock. You’re still going to have to get the final three outs,” Appel said.

Against that backdrop, Appel experienced a bit of culture shock while pitching for the Salt River Rafters in the recently completed Arizona Fall League. When he stared in at the catcher, he saw fingers flashing signs. But with a glimpse toward either dugout or to left-center field at his team’s home venue, Appel could see three counters winding toward a conclusion. “20 … 19 … 18 … 17.” It was a digital mandate not to dawdle.

As the average game time surpassed three hours this season, Major League Baseball embraced the idea that it might have a burgeoning problem. What better place to seek solutions to the issue of time creep than in the AFL, a six-week finishing school for prospects each October and November?

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Originally published: November 20, 2014. Last Updated: November 20, 2014.