Reducing Game Times Is Huge Challenge

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Don’t tell me that the time of baseball games can’t be shortened.

Five years ago, Steve Moyer of the Wall Street Journal wrote a fascinating story about the actual time of action in a Major League game.

He discovered that in a typical 3-hour ball game, there will be 17 minutes and 58 seconds of actual action.

The other 2 hours and 42 minutes — or 90 percent of the game — is non-action related.

With this being said, why can’t baseball games be shorter in time?

The 2017 College World Series saw an average game time of 3:25 over 16 games, the second highest average in the 71-year history of the event.

Only the 2009 CWS saw a higher game time average of 3:38.

In 13 of the last 14 College World Series, the average game time of all games has been 3:16. The only outlier was 2012 when CWS games averaged 2:54.

Over the last 36 years, there have been no CWS games under two hours. Yet there have been 22 games over four hours.

According to Ben Brownlee, Assistant Director of Championships and Alliances with the NCAA, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee has never studied the real time of action during play.

“From a playing rules perspective, we have only utilized the duration or length of a game submitted in the stat files to study pace of play,” said Brownlee.

He said that the Baseball Rules Committee approved an experimental rule request from the Big 12 Conference during its September teleconference that allows schools from this league to have a 15-second clock with no runners on base during conference games only this season.

Currently the NCAA rule is that a pitch must be thrown within 20 seconds with no runners on base.

“Violations of the 15-second clock will be the same as the current 20-second clock rule (Appendix F).

“They (Big 12 Conference) will be reporting the length of game difference between conference and non-conference games to the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee to provide additional context for potential rules changes in the future.”

Brownlee added that another time saving study is being done this season involving conference games only in the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference.

Certain teams, but not all, are utilizing experimental wireless communication devices. The catcher wears an ear piece which will link up with a wireless device that the pitching coach can speak into.

The coach will tell the catcher what pitch to throw and what location. The catcher has no way of electronically communicating back to the coach. No data from the Big 12, SEC or ACC is available yet.

Pace Of Play Committee
A 7-member Pace of Play Committee was started in December of 2016 by the American Baseball Coaches Association and is chaired by Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt.

“Pace of play is certainly something that everyone in college baseball is concerned with,” said Corbin.

“We are looking at the components and actions of what transpires in games.

“During our first meeting on Dec. 14, 2016, the first thing we talked about was not changing the strategy of the game or take away the core elements that make our game so good.

“The length of games is certainly a concern especially when you start looking at it from a consumer standpoint whether watching on TV or paying for a ticket to attend.

“We are concerned with the pace of the action in games as well. We would like to remove the dead pockets which stop the flow of the game and manage times more efficiently in games as well.

“The one area we saw that is problematic is defensive timeouts. You will see infielders call time to talk to pitchers or stall so a pitcher has a bit more time to warm up. We discussed ways to reduce time within the game to make games shorter. So we would like to study the number of mound visits on defense and timeouts on defense that take place.

“We also are looking at the transition time when a new pitcher comes into the game as the action is stopped with runners on base as well as the time between pitches and the batter staying in the box.

“We also are looking at possibly limiting the time between pitches in games.

“Also being looked at are the number of mound visits during a game and timeouts in a game a team has.”

 “We won’t make any final decisions until we receive full input from college coaches across the nation. But we are identifying areas where we can reduce the times of games. We want to keep an open mind on all of these areas, but we don’t want to harm the great game we have either.”

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The rest of the article explains other areas that are being studied to speed up games and what the largest area of inaction is during games which will surprise many.