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.
In 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.