Time Keeps on Slipping…

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You may have noticed a lack of blogs from us, and that has a lot to do with the almost complete lack of Cubs-specific news.  We know the Cubs probably want to sign Yu Darvish, and they probably also want to keep their options open for the future during this still-very-open window of contention.  Unfortunately, with less than two weeks until pitchers and catchers report, we’re still left with very little to talk about other than the early winter signings and some random spring training invites.

Last time on the Dreamcast, we did talk a bit about the pace of play issues that have been a sticking point between the players union and MLB.  This is appropriate given the sometimes glacial pace of play in baseball games, particularly with certain hitters and pitchers who like to take their time getting ready for the next pitch.  Baseball is often slow at adopting changes that could improve the game, and when they do change things up, sometimes the end result isn’t as good as it could be, either.  Let’s do a quick tally…

  • Expanded netting everywhere starting this season — good!
  • Replay review — good in principle, should probably limit to one minute or less for every instance.
  • New CBA — somewhat obviously bad for the players, good for the owners, and jury is still out on how fans feel given that the commissioner can enact rules changes unilaterally if he can’t get the union to agree on things.
  • Goofy extra inning rules for exhibition games — probably good to keep players healthy in games that don’t matter, as long as they never try to do this in real games.

…and so we come to this, a frantic period before spring training when they have to get some rules in place to at least experiment with them before a mandate is issued.

I think a pitch clock would look wacky, but is ultimately required to keep pitchers from taking an age to deliver a pitch.  We would probably eventually get used to the pitch clock in very much the same way we all but ignore the shot clock in basketball and the play clock in football.  Nowadays, unless you look right at it, you can barely notice the between innings countdown timer on the scoreboard.  It is good that the two sides are talking right now to avoid shoehorning in a clock without a proper negotiation, giving the players and umpires an incentive to speed the game along.  While I don’t mind spending over three hours at the park, having to sit through a 45-second cup adjustment or mound visit isn’t all that fun.  I think getting more flow and action into the game is good, and these incentives, if approved, should help that along.

The part about the mound visits is something that already happens at the lower levels of organized baseball, as most kids can’t play in parks with lights during the part of the season when the sun sets earlier than we’d like.  I know pitchers have complained about sign stealing, which justifies the additional conferences between the battery mates, but MLB is trying to combat that with new dugout phones and league surveillance to curtail this practice, at least until teams figure out how to get around this.  Having a 30-second clock now for mound visits does help reduce the inaction, although I don’t believe they will ever limit pitching changes in a game (not that they should, because that fundamentally alters the game more than the pitching coach coming by to tell the pitcher a joke or something).

I’m guessing that many of the bajillion baseball blogs will be tracking pace of play throughout spring training, and will keep a running tally of average game time throughout the season as well.  The players still have a shot at getting something for themselves in negotiation, and have the incentives to move things along to avoid MLB putting its foot down.  As for the frozen hot stove…that’s a longer fight that will be settled another day.


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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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