New Rules Shave 20 Minutes Off Games

One game ended on a clock violation, as players adjust to the changes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 27, 2023 7:05 PM CST
Baseball's New Rules Are Shortening Games
Home plate umpire Paul Clemons, left, calls a pitching clock violation against Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Reynaldo Lopez as Seattle Mariners' AJ Pollock looks on during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Monday in Phoenix.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By the time Cubs outfielder Brennen Davis actually saw a pitch from Arizona's Joe Mantiply, the count was already at a ball and a strike. Both the hitter and pitcher were penalized at the start of Davis' at-bat to lead off the top of the third inning of Monday's spring training game, the latest odd twist in baseball's speed-up rules. After Mantiply entered the game as a reliever, he took too long to throw his warmup pitches, per the AP; then Davis was too slow to get ready for the pitch. Major League Baseball approved its first pitch clock this season, and every day is a new experience for the players as they try to get used to it.

On Saturday, Boston's game against Atlanta ended on a walk-off automatic strike. On Sunday, Mets ace Max Scherzer struck out Washington's Joey Meneses in just 27 seconds. "I like the idea of games being shorter," Marlins reliever Matt Barnes said. "In Boston, we played a nine-inning, 4½-hour game against New York on a Tuesday. That's not fun." So far, the changes are working. The new rules, which also limit the number of times a pitcher can throw to first base, have helped cut more than 20 minutes from spring training games through the first weekend, dropping from an average of 3 hours, 1 minute last spring to 2:39.

There may be backsliding. A day after Scherzer fanned Meneses on three pitches in the time it used to take a lot of pitchers to throw one, the Mets and Cardinals played a more traditional 2:59 game, with St. Louis winning 12-7. The teams combined for 19 runs, 25 hits, 11 walks, and 18 strikeouts. There were two balks, neither of them because a pitcher stepped off too many times, and three wild pitches. Mets manager Buck Showalter made three pitching changes in the middle of an inning; Cardinals pitching coach Dusty Blake made two mound visits. St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said the game was more like what he was used to. "The pace is obviously is going to be quicker, that's for sure," he said. "But the 2:26s of the world—I'm not sure about those." (More Major League Baseball stories.)

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