With the Grapefruit season almost underway, news on the intentional walk has dominated the landscape! The uproar has ensued!
Anyway, it seems appropriate, given all the talk about the attempted pace of play initiatives, that we address a question on the topic.
Holly and Kurt haven’t shared their answers until today, assuring a nice wide range of perspectives.
Do you believe the game needs additional pace of play initiatives? Why or why not?
Remember when Mike Hargrove was called the human rain delay? Today, everyone connected to the game classifies under this moniker and when you have the professional sport historically with the least amount of actual play time, longest game length and the oldest and fastest ageing sports demographic, real problems lie ahead.
Any professional sports endeavor requires that fresh fans are constantly being attracted to the game in order to keep the sport healthy. And it’s a real problem now with games that average just under 3 hours and playoff games going much longer because it flies in the face of what attracts millennials (now the target market) – who prefer shorter times and a faster pace.
The changes made so far have only resulted in making a dent, but it’s not so much the actual length of the game as it is the pace. The games have slowed down so much from all the stepping out from the plate, visits to the mound, instant replay and bullpens that see more action – just to name a few.
Rather than a focus on 1 or 2 factors, a number of changes need to be added to the mix so measurable changes are created. However, it’s important to note that it is crucial that the essential strategy or intent of the game is not changed or compromised.
Waiting for the players to agree on changes is like waiting for Godot. They will argue that any changes to their routines will mess with their game so it’s no surprise that the players’ union has adamantly opposed moving forward in more than a token way.
And Commissioner Manfred has already laid down the gauntlet threatening to overrule the MLBPA next year. But what I haven’t seen is MLB showing them WIIFM (What’s In It for Me?). Facts and figures about the demographics and how much the newest paying generation will spend is crucial to helping them understand that the financial viability of the sport directly impacts their salaries and marketability.
It’s been suggested that changes, like the pitch clock, start in the minor leagues and gradually work their way up to the MLB level. But this will take time and how do you handle teams who will all have the mix of old and new players with different behaviors? Don’t the rookies look up to and emulate the veterans and stars? We can’t expect the new behaviors created in the minors will last once they reach the major leagues.
Ironically, the deciding force may just be technology. We’re already seeing a movement away from watching live games and attending games in person for the easier and less expensive alternative to streaming them. I know I’m not the only one with limited time to watch and the ability to fast forward from pitch-to-pitch, walk ups and pitching changes.
I believe the game of baseball needs to be protected and preserved; and any radical changes must be scrutinized to the nth degree. But even as I cringe about the thought of changes to our great game, I take no issue with how the game will handle intentional walks. I am completely fine with a manager signal versus the pitcher throwing 4 balls; it will have very little impact on the game and really should not be missed.
I found one site that described the intentional walk rule change as “depriving us of greatness.” Well, sorry if I don’t move to the edge of my seat so I don’t miss the “greatness” of an intentional walk.
If you really want to dive into an issue with a lot of meat on the bone and the source of where games get bogged down, it stands firmly with instant replay. Get rid of it! It’s not worth the pain of waiting for play to resume 4-6 times a game.
Other than that, I don’t find pace of play to be an issue. But I am not part of the millennial crowd that the MLB is trying to draw and entertain. I am not your normal fan. I watch everything. Strategy and routine is part of the game that can’t be ignored or compromised.
Baseball is a very difficult game; one where rituals and routine help players to focus. Routines are big for these guys; especially when someone walks to the plate to try to accomplish one the most difficult things to do in sports, hit a baseball.
Most of the changes that will be proposed beginning in 2018 revolve around the introduction of time constraints; and clocks don’t belong in baseball. And if you start messing with routines by instituting time limits all through the course of a game in order to improve flow and pace, there is a risk.
There is more to baseball than what takes place when the ball is in play. Even if the commissioner is successful in improving pace of play, we really won’t know for sure if the game itself will improve because of it. I understand the challenges ahead and the importance of appealing to a younger fan base, but don’t destroy the fabric on the way there.
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If you haven’t checked out our site (@totallytigersbb) yet, here’s what you missed this week:
– The controversy surrounding Ian Kinsler’s ranking of the best 2Bers
– Proof that Miggy is considered by most to be one of the very top 1Bers
– How Daniel Norris is very similar to Michael Fulmer
– The Tigers’ placement within the 100 best prospects in baseball
– MLB’s rankings of each position and where each Tiger stands
– VMart still ranks as one of the very best despite his lack of running
– Why the Pirates handled their CF issue much better than the Tigers
– Personal thoughts directly from JV, Miggy and Ian Kinsler
– Pace of play updates
– Tigers ranking of best uniform hats
– The best quotes about Mr. I from those who knew him best
– And more! What are you waiting for??