Editor’s note: The Examiner on Tuesday inadvertantly printed an older Jerry Plantz column. Here is his column for this week.
While the Royals are knocking on the pennant/playoff door, let’s run the bases and ask: Are major league baseball games too long?
Sports Illustrated columnist Tom Verducci writes, “In just 10 years (the players) have managed to add 29 minutes, 11 seconds of dead time to the average baseball game while scoring 13.3 percent fewer runs.” The number of three-hour games has tripled in 10 years.
Yet the Players Association, the Umpires Association and Commissioner Bud Selig have failed to successfully confront dead time while the independent Atlantic League has hit one out of the park by implementing these rule changes:
• Batters must keep one foot in the batter’s box in between pitches/
• Defensive teams get three 45-second timeouts per nine innings, including player mound conferences. Pitching changes do not count as a timeout.
• Relief pitchers get six warmup pitches, not eight, and must complete those pitches within one minute.
• Intentional walks are automatic, with no need to throw four pitches out of the strike zone.
• The rulebook high strike zone will be enforced.
• Pitchers must deliver a pitch within 12 seconds with no one on base.
I reached out to two local sports experts for their opinion, The Examiner’s Bill Althaus, who is a former beat writer for the Royals; and Dave Stewart of Metro Sports.
Althaus opines, “I think the game is too long. I do think there needs to be a legitimate limit between pitches and innings. Why is a college or really good American Legion baseball game 1 hour and 45 minutes and a pro game is three plus hours? Umpires need to move the game along and players need to be cognizant of the time – and delays – of a game.”
Stewart adds some caveats, “I don’t like the idea of strict rules of things baseball and MLB players can’t do. But as far as game length, get the pitcher on the mound and the batter in the box. The umpire can dictate tempo. Baseball is trying to combat the image the game is too slow with not enough action. Do we need 9 innings? Do we need 162 games? Yes and yes. Baseball is fine to me, not terribly flawed. Having said that, I’d prefer a 2:12 minute game with a 1-0 result.”
Go Royals! Keep knocking on that door.
I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.