MLB in London? Focus on U.S First!

A few weeks ago, it was reported that Major League Baseball is finalizing an agreement that will bring baseball to London. Yes, you read that correctly— the MLB in London! If agreed upon, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees would play a two-game series at London’s Olympic Stadium on June 29-30 in 2019. The games would be the first regular season contests that the MLB has played in Europe. Clearly, this is being done in an effort to grow the game on that continent.MLB in London

Personally, I think the MLB needs to think about this for a second. It’s not an awful idea, but I think the priority should be growing the game at home in the United States first. Baseball has been losing popularity in the states for a long time now, especially along the younger generation. I feel like a weirdo when I tell friends that I like to sit down and watch a baseball game. That’s not a good thing.

Forget MLB in London, For Now

Instead of taking care of that problem and finding some way to fix baseball here, Rob Manfred and company want to move on to something they aren’t ready for. They are just following in the NFL’s footsteps by forcing London games down everyone’s throats and that’s barely even working for football, which is insanely popular.

My last issue with this is the fact that they are sending the Red Sox and Yankees. I get that they want to send a good product. You do not want to do what Roger Goodell does to the good people of London by subjecting them to crappy teams. This is not the right two to send, however. Baseball’s popularity is down largely because of pace of play and everyone’s short attention spans. That means we should not introduce the game to London by sending them these two teams. They notoriously play the longest games against each other. If you want to send the Yankees or the Sox, send them against someone else. Otherwise, we’ll be getting shots of the fans there filing out in the sixth inning after three hours.

Stephen Wright Gets A Suspension, But Was It Enough?

Steven Wright will serve a suspension to start the 2018 season. The MLB commissioner’s office decided that Wright deserved a 15-game penalty for violating the league’s domestic violence policy. In my estimation, this is not enough.

Wright was arrested on December 8th after an altercation with his wife. We don’t know allWright of the details but the situation escalated to the point that his wife felt threatened and that’s obviously enough for me to say that this was extremely out of bounds. Police took the pitcher into custody at the couples’ Tennessee home. The charges were misdemeanor domestic assault and preventing a 911 call. He was released from jail the following day on $2,500 bond and the Williamson County Court retired his case. The court will drop the case if he does not commit additional offenses within the next year.

Sure, Wright cooperated with the league office as they investigated the situation. He’s showing remorse and apparently is going through counseling with his wife. He continues to maintain that he did not make any physical contact with his wife, and he’s taking full responsibility for what transpired. This still should not be okay.

Domestic violence is a problem far too often in our world and in sports, it seems to get a pass. When an athlete makes a mistake, too many people back them. The MLB and the Red Sox have stated their disappointment in Wright, but who cares? Fifteen games without pay is a slap on the wrist for something of this magnitude. Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game ban, which is still way too light.

I’m a big believer in second chances and I know people make mistakes, but I think Wright should have to deal with a team releasing him over this. He should have to sit for a while and focus on the important things before getting back to baseball. At the very least he should get a more hefty punishment than this. It’s extremely disappointing and frankly, I don’t want to have to root for the guy all summer long. Let’s just hope he makes the right changes and moves on to be a better person.

Are Baseball Games Longer Than Ever?

Last June my friend Charles and I saw the Red Sox play the Baltimore Orioles. A fierce pitching duel unfolded between the O’s Chris Tillman and the Sox David Price, who struck out eleven in eight innings. Unfortunately, the Red Sox still lost 3-2. Throughout the game, Charles, a baseball writer, and I talked about the strong pitching. However, we were the only ones who appreciated it. Looking around, people seemed more interested in their Jason Varitek bobbleheads and their iPhones than the game. With baseball games longer than they were thirty years ago, are people losing interest?

It’s true that baseball games are tedious to watch. The art of hitting is appreciated by onlyBaseball Games Longer the most diehard baseball fan, but it can make baseball games longer. Hitting foul ball after foul ball gets old for fans and I can’t say I haven’t felt that way, too. So why are baseball games longer than ever? Aside from corporate reasons, it’s a combination of manager strategy, pitcher duels, injuries, instant replays, and most of all, pitching changes.

According to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is well aware of the complaints. In fact, Commissioner Manfred is considering limiting their use. “I am in favor of something like that,” Manfred said. “…You know the problem with relief pitchers is that they’re so good. I’ve got nothing against relief pitchers, but they do two things to the game: The pitching changes themselves slow the game down, and our relief pitchers…they actually rob action out of the end of the game, the last few innings of the game.”

Personally, I hate it when relief pitchers come in during a game. The Yankees Joe Girardi’s platooning strategy, a Yankee manager favorite dating back to when Casey Stengel ran the team, is particularly infuriating. Why can’t the manager wait until the end of the inning? Because sometimes he doesn’t have a choice, especially when the pitcher’s poor performance is running up the opposing score. So the managers brings in a relief pitcher to stop the runs (if he’s good). That’s great for the team, but is it what the fans came out to see? Unless you’re a real die-hard fan, probably not. On the other hand, managers will tell you they’re not there to entertain fans. They’re there to win games, and if that means slowing the game down to win then so be it.

With Baseball Games Longer, How Do You Keep It interesting?

According to Forbes.com, the average length of a baseball game in 1981 was 2 hours and 33 minutes. Last season, according to the New York Post, the New York Mets completed games faster than any other team in baseball with an average time of 2 hours and 46 minutes. Last year MLB tried stop clocks. Personally, I thought they helped a lot. Turns out I’m in the minority regarding that thought.

This issue isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon. To limit relievers, or anything else for that matter, would jeopardize the integrity of the game. Maybe it’s not the game that’s changed though. Maybe it’s people’s inability to focus. People’s attention spans aren’t nearly as long as they used to be, especially when iPhones and texting make us crave instant gratification more than ever.

Personally, I think the pace of baseball games would pick up faster by doing two things. The opposing team should take the field immediately following the third out, which would cut the game down by 20 minutes. Secondly, limit relief pitching, but only for Joe Girardi (Seriously, he does it too much!).

Upper Minors to Use Pitch Clock In 2015

pitch clock

The game of baseball is losing popularity with younger generations for one simple    reason—the games are so long. A lot of young people these days lack patience, so Major League Baseball is working on something to speed up the process of games.
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After successfully cutting down the length of games by using a pitch clock in the Arizona Fall League this past fall, MLB commissioner Bud Selig decided to give it a try in the upper Minors this upcoming season (AA and AAA). It will likely be the last thing he does as he is leaving office on January 25th when Rob Manfred will be coming in from relief to replace him.

pitch clockIn the Arizona Fall League, there was a 12 second time limit between pitches no one on base, but the limit was increased to 20 seconds with runners on. If the pitcher did not throw the ball in the allotted time, it was called a ball.
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Arizona Diamondbacks top prospect who started his team’s first game in the Fall League went about everything normally, but said, “Then I look at the clock and it’s already at 14 seconds,” Bradley said of the time remaining before the next pitch. “I’m like, oh jeez!”

Combined with time limits between innings and a rule that did not allow batters to step out of the box, the Arizona Fall League was able to shave 10 minutes off each game it was used.

From a Minor League reporter’s perspective, this is great news. It will certainly be a nice change in pace given how long some games can drag on for what seems like an eternity– especially if there is a rain delay.
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Right now, Major League Baseball has a 12 second pitch rule (Rule 8.04) but it is never enforced because there is not a visible pitch clock. If this experiment goes over well in the Minors, perhaps it makes it’s way to the big leagues in 2016.