Major League Baseball faces a bit of a conundrum. Those involved and those surrounding the game know there is a need for change to keep up with other American sports taking off such as the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.Two problems exist: one is where to make changes to the game. The other is how many changes should you make before baseball isn’t baseball anymore. Commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t seem to care about either as he is chopping anything and everything that takes up too much time in baseball. This is unnecessary because the game is doing fine. Baseball is ushering in a new era where home runs are happening more than ever and so are strike outs. Pitchers are throwing 100 MPH on a consistent basis and batters are hitting 100 MPH missiles out of ball parks across the country.
The thing that really gets to me is that in just about every one of the four major American sports, a typical game lasts about three hours. That doesn’t change with baseball. The difference is that the other three sports have a time limit while baseball does not. People say baseball is slow and that nothing really ever happens, which when compared to action sports such as hockey, basketball and football they have a point. I see where they are coming from as baseball is not very popular with younger people, but maybe baseball’s future market is the same as it is now; middle aged white males, Hispanics, and Asians. Baseball is becoming more and more popular in Hispanic territories by the day. However, it is not meant to be a fast paced sport, which is exactly what Rob Manfred is trying to do. Golf is slow paced sport but you don’t see the head of the PGA trying to speed up golf. It is the way it is, watch it or don’t watch it. I don’t see why there is such a need for change to a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Plus this World Series was the most watched in 25 years.
Rob Manfred is becoming obsessed to a point with changing the game and he rejects almost any other logical solution that doesn’t involve taking an ax to the game. This year, according to a NY Times article, he cut out throwing 4 pitches for a intention walk, as well as limiting the time a manager has to decide whether he wants to challenge something to 30 seconds, and limiting replay reviews to 2 minutes maximum and some other minor things. Taking out the intentional walk doesn’t allow for great things like this to happen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WgK4FtRkTo Freak things can happen at any time and what better than a player almost hitting a 3 run home run because of a bad intentional walk pitch. Limiting replay reviews to 2 minutes is also a bad idea. It’s all fun and games until it’s the playoffs and your favorite team is hurt because the umpires can’t figure out the correct call in 2 minutes. Manfred is looking to limit pitching changes in the future among other things. This is another bad idea because it is part of the strategy of the game.
In 2015, Rob Manfred was proud of his efforts to lower the speed of an average game by 6 minutes. I have news for you Mr. Manfred. Six minutes off a game is NOT going to attract more people to watch baseball. Most typical baseball fans don’t care about 6 minutes off a game. Most people who don’t watch baseball don’t care about 6 minutes off a game either. Is it a start? Sure. Manfred would have to significantly change the game more if he wants to get it down so far that people will watch more. In my humble opinion, the time of the game won’t matter in the long run. A game could take 2 hours and people will still say it is too slow. Don’t change baseball so much that you lose your core audience. Baseball has been as great as it has been for so long because of the way it is, not because someone tried to change the game. The true fans will still be there.
**Image from Patrick McDermott and Getty Images**