New Rules to Speed-up Games
As was noted in a recent article here on BSI, “History of the Pace of the Game,” there have been many attempts to “keep the game moving” and most involved the role of umpires.
While we will need to await the outcome of this first season of “complete” instant replay in MLB, based on my decades of experiences as an umpire in amateur baseball, I will offer a few ideas that have worked, which would shorten games in the Major leagues.
- BATTER IN THE BOX
Although not all players are as bad as former player Mike Hargrove, known as the “Human Rain Delay,” or former pitcher Steve Trachsel, too many waste time adjusting their batting gloves, helmets, pants and jocks between pitches.
HARGROVE DELAY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tGm_JajqLo
The batter must remain in the batter’s box during an at-bat. While taking the sign from the base coach, he must leave one leg in the box. The batter may request a time out from the umpire to step out of the box during an at bat, but time outs will only be called for conferences with the base coach, or when there is something in the batter’s eye [dust, bugs, et al], or for other circumstances that the umpire judges it is required.
- PITCHER TO THE PLATE
A study by Mike Fast in 2008 showed the range in seconds between pitches in MLB
Here are the top ten and bottom ten in average time between pitches for pitchers with at least 100 pitches so far in 2008.
Mark Buehrle 17.2
Glendon Rusch 17.2
Joe Blanton 17.6
Jason Bergmann 17.7
Jon Lieber 17.8
R.A. Dickey 17.9
Ben Sheets 18.4
Esteban Loaiza 18.4
Derek Lowe 18.6
Dallas Braden 18.7
Jason Isringhausen 27.4
Hideki Okajima 27.5
Denny Bautista 27.6
J.J. Putz 27.9
Jose Valverde 28.0
Josh Banks 28.1
Jonathan Papelbon 28.4
Joel Peralta 29.0
Rafael Perez 29.1
Rafael Betancourt 32.0
A more recent study by David Appelman on November 17, 2010 at Fangraphs showed:
Pitcher Pace (Time Between Pitches)
The slowest 5 pitchers are:
Daisuke Matsuzaka – 25.9 sec.
Matt Garza – 25.8 sec.
Josh Beckett – 25.2 sec.
Clay Buchholz – 24.6 sec.
CC Sabathia – 24.6 sec.
And the 5 fastest are:
Mark Buehrle – 16.4 sec.
Mike Leake – 17.6 sec.
John Danks – 17.6 sec.
Joe Blanton – 17.6 sec.
Clayton Richard – 17.7 sec.
[*SEE Methodology after after article.]
If Clay Buchholz was to throw 100 pitches in a game, the total time required would be 41 minutes.
If the home plate umpire in that game enforced the current MLB rule [8.04] that allows a maximum of 12 seconds to deliver the ball, starting when he receives it from the catcher, Buchhoz would make his 100 pitches in 20 minutes. Thus, a time savings of 21 minutes and, if we add time saved from the opposing pitcher, say 15 minutes, the game would be shortened by 36 minutes.
Allow the pitcher 10 seconds between deliveries, but allow the umpire discretion for exceptions.
- CATCHER TO THE MOUND
While rule 8.06 limits the number of times a manager [or coach] may visit the pitcher on the mound, there is no limit on the catcher.
Except in case of injury to the pitcher, the catcher may not visit the same pitcher more than once per inning and, if the umpire believes the catcher is abusing the privilege, he may limit the total number of visits per game.
- WARM UP PITCHES
Rule 8.06 allows a pitcher entering a game 8 warm-up pitches, or 1 minute, but [8.03] also allows for umpire discretion on the number of pitches allowed.
Currently, no rule addresses the number of warm-up pitches allowed between innings. [Stipulation: Games are broadcast in video and audio formats and require commercials to be run between innings.]
From the time that the final out is recorded in an inning to the first pitch to the batter in the following inning, no more than 5 minutes will be allowed. [Some may prefer fewer minutes.]
The time limit automatically addresses the number of warm-up pitches allowed; to wit, the pitcher will be allowed as many pitches as he can throw in that between innings time limit.
If all of the new rules suggested here were enforced, it would eliminate 3+ hours, 9-inning games, by trimming out the time wasted by 60-90 minutes without detracting from the normal pace of the Summer game.
DO YOU AGREE WITH ANY OF THE NEW RULES SUGGESTED HERE? [POLL]
WHAT OTHERS WOULD YOU SUGGEST? [COMMENTS]
[This feature will appear every MONDAY here on BSI…]
“I’ve added a new stat to the PitchF/x section, “Pace”, inspired by this post over at Beyond the Box Score, which shows how much time each pitcher takes in between his pitches.
The way I calculate Pace, is by taking the difference between the start time of the first pitch in the plate appearance, and the end time of the last pitch in the plate appearance. I then divide by the number of pitches in that plate appearance (minus 1). Pickoff attempts are considered just another pitch, since they don’t have time stamps of their own. Anything that looks like a game delay between pitches is thrown out. The average pace is about 21.5 seconds.
My numbers didn’t come out exactly the same as the Beyond the Box Score post, but the ordering of fast/slow pitchers is quite similar. I’m not entirely sure what is the cause of the differences.”