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Major League Baseball makes official changes to speed up games – SportsUntapped.com
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Added February 23rd, 2015 by Ian

Major League Baseball makes official changes to speed up games
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If you’ve ever watched a Major League Baseball (MLB) game you realize it can sometimes take about five minutes for some batter’s plate appearances due to stepping in and out of the box etc. We also have pitches who take their sweet time between pitches and this can often drag games into the three-hour zone. MLB has been trying to come up with ways to speed things up and they announced some new rules on Feb. 20 in hopes of doing so.

One of the rules states that a batter must keep one of his feet in batter’s box at all times between pitches. There is an exception to this though, such as a wild pitch or foul ball, or if the umpire has granted the batter time. Another new rule states that managers who want to challenge a call via an instant-replay they have to make the challenge from the dugout. Last season, managers who challenged calls walked out onto the ball diamond. But the biggest change of all is the introduction of a timer for the half-inning breaks.

This timer will be set for 2 minutes and 45 seconds for games that are broadcast on national TV and 2 minutes and 25 seconds for contests which are broadcast locally. This rule is in effect even if a team changes pitchers between an inning. This gives TV stations enough time to air their commercials and everybody’s happy since advertising money is still coming in. However, it’s not sure if the new rules will work or if they’ll simply be ignored since those who don’t adhere to them will only be warned and eventually fined up to a paltry $500.

Regardless, the new regulations will be tried out in spring training and then phased in during the first month of the 2015 MLB campaign. Rob Manfred, the new commissioner of MLB, said the rules are meant to speed things up and the league has been trying to think of ways to do so for a few years now. Back in 1984 an average game took about 2 hours and 30 minutes to play and in 2014 it had stretched to approximately three hours.

One reason for longer games has been longer TV commercial breaks as well as the new video-replay review system. MLB fans are getting older on average and perhaps younger ones are losing patience with drawn-out games. Statistics show that the average viewer for last year’s World series was 54.4 and back in 2009 it was 49.9. Children between the ages of six and 17 represented just 4.3 per cent of the audience for the playoffs while the number was 7.4 per cent 10 years ago. The stats also showed that younger fans are watching the NHL, NBA, and English Premier League soccer.

Some experts believe TV viewers become impatient during pitching changes and other slow points in baseball games and turn the channel or find something else to do. However, some of the older fans prefer the slow pace of a baseball game and MLB didn’t want to alienate them. This is one of the reasons the league didn’t introduce a 20-second maximum between pitches.

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