Months after ratifying a new CBA, it appears the commissioner and the MLBPA aren’t seeing eye-to-eye.
On Tuesday, the MLB approved a rule change to the way intentional walks will be issued henceforth. Instead of throwing four intentionally obvious balls, a good three-or-so feet outside of the strikezone, the manager will be able to issue a signal to the umpiring crew from the comfort of the dugout.
Sure, it means moments like these are gone, forever:
But, honestly, those were unbelievably infrequent anyways, right? Pace of play is worth the sacrifice of missing one of those every, I don’t know, 5000 games? That would be one every two seasons, which still sounds pretty optimistic.
So let’s do the math. With savvier front offices, intentional walks are on the decline anyways, but 932 were issued last season. Each intentional walk isn’t created equal, but let’s assume they all begin with the catcher taking a signal from the dugout. It seems like that probably takes 10 seconds. Those 10 seconds will now be spent by having the manager signal the umpiring crew instead of his catcher, who then signals his pitcher, who then issues four intentionally wide pitches.
Considering this is a relatively quick play anyways—there’s no need to go through a series of signals or anything—I’d wager each pitch takes probably 15 seconds all told. That’s easy math and works out to one whole minute each walk. One minute during one of the most high leverage moments of a game. Pausing any sports game during the most exciting part for 60 seconds would seem agonizing, no doubt.
So, 932 intentional walks last season, spread across a normal season’s amount of games works out to almost exactly 23 seconds saved every game. That’s honestly more than I thought it would be before starting the math, but it’s still a drop in the bucket to where baseball needs to be to solve its pace of play issue. 23 seconds isn’t going to save us from those four-hour games in the peak of summer, watching the fourth reliever of the game warm-up for the team that’s down by six runs.
Rob Manfred knows this, and seems to be risking labor peace to solve it:
Those are not kind words from someone who just ratified a new CBA barely three months ago.
It’s not as though the MLBPA is tone deaf to pace of play issues, and acting hastily on some of these matters would be a mistake. Manfred himself relies on some fallacious arguments in this speech, issuing a strawman on the PA by suggesting that they would rather “educate fans to embrace the game as it’s currently being played.”
Regardless, this isn’t a great look for the commissioner or the MLBPA, so we turn it over to you—the baseball fan.
Which rules would you like to see implemented to quicken the pace of play?
- limiting mound visits
- pitch clock, if so, what penalties should be incurred?
- forcing batters to stay in the batters box, if so, what penalties should be incurred?
- raising the strikezone to hopefully generate more balls in play
Comment below, write your own Fanpost, or respond to us on Twitter. We’ll be adding the best Twitter responses to this post as they come in.
The no-change crowd was the first to report-in:
NONE. Leave the game alone. https://t.co/gnvkxCueaZ
— matt delfino (@DelfinoMatt) February 22, 2017
Some new ideas came up:
@mlbdailydish – Limits on catcher-pitcher mound visits, managers have VERY limited time to challenge a call (no reviewing video first)
— Richard Hurley (@AeonicEnnui) February 22, 2017
This one I especially liked, but can we fit enough commercials in that time?:
@mlbdailydish Have the time between innings shortened to 2 min.
— Glenn Turgeon (@Coacht77) February 22, 2017