Rowley: What might get lost in pace-of-play changes

From SABR member Meg Rowley at Baseball Prospectus on August 22, 2016:

In The Summer Game, Roger Angell described the relationship between baseball time and the out by saying, “Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.” Baseball time is largely unregulated and free from a clock, and even with recent interventions to put a bit of countdown heft behind existing rules, what dictates the pace of play is mostly those playing. What we see of it is determined by our interest. Outfield walls may be bedecked with corporate logos, and grand slams might now bear an odd connection to pizza, but the thing that has long distinguished baseball from other sports, its pacing, is still largely unruffled, for better or worse. We still have time.

Except that might be changing. On Thursday, Bob Nightengale reported Major League Baseball is considering several measures aimed at “breathing life into offenses, providing more action, while also quickening the pace of games.“ Among the measures generating the most conversation is a proposal to port over the 20-second pitch clocks found in the minors, curtail defensive shifts, and limit the number of reliever substitutions. Others have remarked on how the proposals offered don’t really hang together logically. Manfred seems to be asking the game to speed up (pitch clocks!), while slowing down (no shifts!), but scoring more (?). But what he really seems to be aiming at is something more predictable; something like the standardization of time.

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Originally published: August 22, 2016. Last Updated: August 22, 2016.