MLB needs to slow its roll on length


By Scott Halasz



I can’t wait for baseball season to start.

While I love football and basketball, the nice weather the last couple days has me counting down to the first “play ball.”

Pitchers and catchers report in less than two months and the first exhibition games commence shortly thereafter.

Let’s just hope its the baseball I’ve known and loved since I watched my first Cubs game in the mid-1970s.

Some major changes take place this year aimed at shortening the time of the games. Relief pitchers must face at least three batters or throw until the end of the half-inning. And there is no longer a 40-man roster in September. Instead rosters will be at 26 players all season unless there is a doubleheader. Then teams can have an extra player.

Some changes actually began in 2018 when commercial breaks were shortened and mound visits were limited to six per game. They continued last season when commercials were again shortened, and mound visits were limited to five.

<Sarcasm font> Wow, I’m glad they did this. It really helped.

According to baseball-reference.com, the average game time in 2017 was 3:08. In 2018 it was 3:04, and last year it went up to 3:10. So the folks in suits make all these changes and games lasted two minutes longer than before the changes were made.

The three-batter minimum is a huge concern to baseball purists like myself.

Baseball has always been about batter-pitcher match-ups. Managers call in relievers when needed based on the who has the best chance to get the next batter out. Not the batter on deck or in the hole. The player about to bat.

This new rule forces managers to shift their in-game strategy and manage differently. He could be forced to leave a pitcher in too long or make pitchers face batters they are ill-suited to face.

Other than soccer, I know of no other sport where substitutions are so limited that it could affect the game’s outcome. Could you imagine if Ezekiel Elliott had to stay on the sideline for three plays because he came out for a breather? Or what if Wayne Gretzky wasn’t allowed to be on a power-play shift because he just came off the ice and his sub had to stay out there for five minutes?

I realize those substitutions don’t require a stoppage in play. But I think (or at least hope) you get my point.

It’s gonna change the game big time. And I have my doubts that it will make any real dent in game time.

When pitchers could face one batter and then be replaced, game times went up just a couple minutes. Given that commercial break time has already been shortened, how much time is going to be saved by making pitchers stay in for three batters? A minute. Two minutes? Five, 10 minutes?

And if it does shave 10 minutes off a game, is it worth it?

I, for one, don’t want a game to last just two hours and 30 minutes. When I go to a Reds game, its 90 minutes of drive time there and back. In addition to tickets, there is the cost to park, grab a hot dog and beer or pop and maybe some cotton candy for the kids. Even if I buy the cheap seats and spend maybe $20 for tickets, I’m still in it for around $50 a game. I want my money’s worth. I don’t want a wham, bam, thank you ma’am game.

I’m fine fine hanging out for three hours. One would think owners would want fans in their stadium longer, buying more food and merchandise.

They say time is money, right?

My money says these changes are wrong.

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By Scott Halasz

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.