by: Amaury Pi-González
The use of the clock in major league baseball is noticeable during this Spring Training and it has made a difference. During the 2022 regular season, an average nine-inning game lasted three hours and three minutes. While in the minor leagues last year they experimented with the new rules, the games were shorter by 25 minutes, with stolen base attempts increasing by 26 %.
Spring Training in Arizona and Florida ended this week and, with just a handful of games remaining prior to the opening of the season, like regional rivalries like A’s vs. Giants, Mets vs. Yankees, Dodgers vs. Angels, Cubs vs. White Sox and so on, the average length of a game during this Spring Training was 2 hours and 30 minutes, this average was taken among all games and all 30 teams.
Is the Commissioner ready for a ‘victory lap’? Not yet. We must have in mind that a Spring Training game is basically that, training, little strategy here, just play. During the regular season that is about to begin in hours, the game will have all the strategy necessary, because those games count, this is what you play for and at the end baseball is a game of strategy. But even with this “sample” of Spring Training 2023, there is enough to dissect and agree that the clock (especially on pitchers) is making the difference on the total reduction of length of a game-time from first pitch to the 27th out.
As somebody that is old school and likes the game, the way it was designed to be, we must admit that we must also be receptive to changes. In 1968 pitching was dominant and after the season the powers-to-be in the game lowered the strike zone and lowered the mount. The game has continued changing, from the Designated Hitter, the relief pitching specializing to various pitchers culminating with a closer, plus other changes. What I mostly like with this new system (not only there is no perennial shift for every hitter) the action seems to happen more often, there is less time waiting around and the game moves with a rhythm. A little less “mind game’ between the hitter and the pitcher, the pace is quicker. Like it or not, that is a fact.
Regardless of all the changes, baseball still a fascinating game with emphasis in strategy and execution. With social media, where everybody can watch a game live on their cell phones and other revolutionary innovations from Silicon Valley to the Valley of the Sun, the new season is upon us. For me, only Christmas is a happier time than the start of the season. A game I was introduced in the mid 1950’s by my father in Cuba and a game that I have learned to love more and love through out the years.
What did Albert Einstein say about baseball? Walking out of the stadium, Einstein might well have thought: “God does not play dice with the world … but He does play baseball.” speed or location of the ball as it arrives at the plate can result in a huge difference in where it goes.
Recommend: “Goodbye Oakland“, a book by Andy Dolich and Dave Newhouse, available on Amazon April 11, 2023. An excellent read of Oakland’s sports history.