ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

By:  Holly Horning & Kurt SnyderKurt Bio PictureHolly Bio Pic

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?


HOLLY

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.


KURT

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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      Proof that Miggy is considered by most to be one of the very top 1Bers

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      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??

19 thoughts on “ONE TOPIC – TWO TAKES

  1. Back during the 94 strike tigers cable showed the Mark Fidrych vs, yankee’s game when he became a national hero. Jim Northrup made many comments about the games just about two hour run time. He was right about how the game was being slowed down. Just enforce the rules, the real strike zone and make ‘m play.

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    • I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing would speed up the game more than calling the high strikes according to the rules. Used to drive Al Kaline nuts when he was in the booth. With that said, I like the pace of the game and don’t need a Smart Phone to keep me occupied.

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  2. Sorry, but it’s totally wrong that baseball has the least actual playing time. If you take when the ball is snapped to when the play is dead, football has about 15 minutes of actual playing time for a 3 hour game. I’ve proved this time and again back in the days of vcrs. Baseball averages about 20-25 minutes per 3 hours.

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    • Hi, Patrick – Believe it or not, there are actually groups who did studies on this. Baseball was found to have 18 min of play time with football now dropping this year to go below baseball for the first time. (Concerns by their commissioner as to whether this is part of why they are losing viewership.) Basketball has 48 min, followed by hockey with 60. Football is just slightly longer (by mere minutes) than baseball and much of it is being blamed on too many commercials. Thanks for keeping the discussion going! – Holly

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      • I read an article from 2010 which stated that football only had 11 minutes of play time and baseball was 18. I did my own study on an NFL game this past year and found there was just under 6 minutes of play time in the first half. The other issue is commercials which have exploded in numbers in all sports but especially baseball and football.

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  3. Change to consider without touching a rule. Save 45 minutes of waste. No tv commercial break between innings. Teams switch and play. In program pods become exclusive sellable ad space & can’t be skipped. 7th inning stretch moves to 6th with longer halftime-like break for analysis, etc.

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  4. If the games are too long, the solution is very simple. 3 balls for a walk, and 2 strikes for a stikeout. BINGO. That simple! And I’ll bet that no one really wants shorter games all that much 🙂

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  5. Kurt, I am in total disagreement about “messing with routines by instituting time limits”. I am also a fan of strategy but the amount of time that many players take between pitches causes me to tune out – and I started following the Tigers in ’65 at the age of 10. Players can adapt and develop new, shorter routines.

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    • I love tradition. I love the overall pacing of baseball. …. But I’m not personally opposed to rules to speed up the game. Implementing a combo of things such as use of a pitch clock and limitations on how frequently a batter can step out of the box would help w/o radically altering the game.

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  6. Yeah, something has to be done. When I go to games live now, I find my mind wandering, and for the first time in my life, I actually consider leaving early. Two huge issues are the incessant pitching changes and the umpire replay reviews. Waiting around for those is like watching paint dry.

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  7. I apalogize if I’m hogging space. On football-score,com.break,extra point,com. Brk. Kickoff,com.break. first down play, com. Break. After a TD you can walk away for ten minutes or longer (if play is challenged) and miss at most one play!!!!

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  8. Sparky said once “If I hear Bowie Kuhn say just once more he’s doing something for the betterment of baseball, I’m going to throw up.” There’s a thin line between initiating change to speed up the game & overreach that damages the spirit of the game. I’m with Kurt on this one.

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  9. I also DVR the game and begin watching an hour later. Fast forward 30 seconds at a time and I see the game in 2 hours. Who cares to watch the commercials? Fast forward them, too! And a major reason for the length of the game is the pitchers all waste pitches. They get ahead 2-0 and then pitch outside for the next three in hopes of getting a swing and miss.

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  10. The only change I’d like to see is an automated strike zone. Has anyone actually done a scientific study/comparison to games played 25-30 years ago. Why do the games drag on so long compared to an earlier time (even with intentional walk pitches)?

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    • Kathy, back in the day the players uniforms were made of wool. They got heavy from the sweat, so they played quickly just to get out of those uni’s!

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  11. Changing I-walk is crazy. Not that many times in a game to have any significance Rule changes for 2nd base and blocking plate are history changers. Dump commercials and replays. Millennials who oppose can stick to FB – short attention span needed!

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  12. I’m OK with replay but if the umpire has to make a bang-bang call so should the manager. Mgr should not be allowed to watch or have someone watch a TV replay before “throwing the flag”. If manager sees it different from the ump, then throw that flag immediately . Also, any review taking more than 1 minute should be thrown out and call on the field stands.

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