Throughout the past few years there have been many different rule changes thrown around for Major League Baseball. Spring training is in full swing so a lot of these ideas have hit the forefront of conversation. Most recently, teams will now only be allowed 6 mound visits per game. The idea of a pitch clock has been thrown around very seriously but it looks like that will not come until 2019. The idea of a runner starting on 2nd base in extra innings has also been highly considered. Rich Eisen then decided to come from the clouds with this suggestion…
Rich, I loved you as a a Sportscenter anchor for years but that is BANANALAND. There are so many issues with that rule change that I am not going to get into that.
I completely understand the notion of shortening games in order to gain more fans. Many argue that sports game in general are too long and honestly it is hard to argue with those people. Time is money and people are busy. The average MLB game last year ran about 3 hours and 5 minutes long with 18 minutes of action. For the casual fan, ain’t nobody got time for that. Here is where I run into an issue, the average NFL game is 3 hours and 12 minutes long with 11 minutes of action. 11 minutes of action! The NFL has ZERO problem with their pace of play yet everyone is up in arms about the pace of play for baseball.
To me, shaving off 20-30 minutes by adding a pitch clock and limiting mound visits will not garner the amount of attention you are looking for. Sure, maybe you will get a few more viewers at first. Baseball diehards will watch baseball regardless of the length of the game so this has nothing to do with them. The goal here is to gain popularity to a sport that is by nature a very slow moving game. In order to gain more attention from the casual fan is a game that is now 2 hours and 45 minutes as opposed to a little over 3 hours going to make a difference?
The best way for MLB to grow their popularity and gain more fans has absolutely nothing to do with length of the game or pace of play. As I stated earlier, the NFL has no issue with popularity and their games are longer. Yes, I know NFL games typically tend to have a higher percentage of exciting plays so that plays a factor. Another thing that plays a factor is marketing of their product. The NFL does a FANTASTIC job of marketing their players and stars. They are hidden behind a face mask and I guarantee the average sports fans would recognize more NFL players than MLB players. There is something seriously wrong with that. Mike Trout is one of the greatest baseball talents in the last 50 or so years, yet I bet the average fan can’t name what team he plays for. MLB needs to do a better job of marketing these stars. They have a plethora of up and coming, marketable young stars that will gain more casual fans than decreasing the game length will. Market your stars better Rob Manfred, you’ll thank me later.
Another way to gain popularity, allow steroids. The steroid era was amazing, I think everyone would agree with that. Homeruns put asses in the seats. Imagine another 1998 homerun race but this time it’s a roided out Bryce Harper vs. Anthony Rizzo, Humanity’s Captain. The ratings would be through the roof. No need to market that steroids will now be allowed, just loosen the testing up without really saying anything. Players will notice and boom steroids will run rampant once again.
There you go Rob Manfred, no need to have any further meetings regarding pace of play. I fixed baseball for you.