The Idiots Who Run Baseball strike again.
The new commissioner, Rob Manfred, Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark, John Scherholtz, Atlanta Braves President and Chairman of Major League Baseball’s Pace of Game and Instant Replay Committee and Attorney General Eric Holder announced changes on Friday that they hope will speed up games.
Oh, wait, how did Eric Holder get in there? My bad.
Surprisingly enough, the federal government stayed out of this one.
And how will the pace be sped up?
1) The batter’s box rule, requiring that all batters must keep at least one foot in the batters box unless one of a group of exceptions occurs, will be enforced. My sources tell me that an earthquake that measures higher than 6.5 is one of the exceptions.
2) Timers will measure the time between innings and pitching changes. Players will have to be ready two minutes and 25 seconds after the third out of an inning for local TV games and 2:45 for national TV.
Clocks will be installed in the ballpark and the IWRB will appoint someone to track compliance.
There are also changes to the procedures for challenging and possibly overturning umpires’ calls, including allowing the manager to challenge a call from the dugout instead of requiring him to approach the umpire.
Kind of ironic, don’t you think, that the IWRB wasted so much time in an effort to save your time?
How much time are we talking about saving here when all of these things are implemented? Ten minutes?
Does anybody really think that the average baseball fan is going to notice the difference between a game that last three hours and 22 minutes and one that lasts three hours and 12 minutes?
You want to shorten games enough that people will notice?
Try seven innings instead of nine.
That will never happen. Neither will two outs instead of three, or two strikes for an out and three balls for a walk. There is only one way to shorten games significantly and that’s by having fewer commercials.
The breaks between half-innings are at least three minutes if you count the commercial time and the time it takes for the first pitch to be thrown.
Cut that to 2 minutes combined with insisting that the first pitch is thrown as soon as the break is over and a 3 ½ hour game becomes a 3 hour and five minute game.
And imagine the return of the two and a half hour game.
Back in the Stone Age, games used to start at 8:05 because they were usually over by 10:30 and people could be home by 11:00. Now they have to start at seven to get the fans home that early.
Nobody believes for a second that the IWRB would reduce the time for commercials, which makes everything they say about their eagerness to shorten games as meaningless as one more batting glove adjustment.
The people in charge of all the major sports need to get creative with commercials if they want to shorten games.
Make each commercial spot 20 seconds instead of 30. Three 20s could actually bring in more money than two 30s.
Advertisers should be smart enough to realize that their commercials are more likely to be seen when they aren’t lost in a 2 and a half minute commercial break.
Put the law of supply and demand to work. Major sports events are quickly becoming the only place where advertisers can be sure that people are not using their DVRs to blow through the commercials.
By making fewer commercial spots available, the value of the spots would go up.
Who’s more creative than the people who write and produce radio and TV commercials? They could make 20 seconds work.
All the major sports leagues could do a better job of fitting short, creative, effective commercials into the small natural breaks in their games.
The way commercials are worked into NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL games are the same now as they were in 1975.
The IWRB went looking for time in all the wrong places.
And you know what really makes the IWRB’s exercise a waste of time?
There are no in-game penalties for breaking the new rules. They think fining players will be incentive enough to get them to comply.
How much of a fine will it take to get the attention of a pitcher who’s making $5000 to $10,000 per pitch?
Pittsburgh ex-TV sportscaster, columnist and talk show host John Steigerwald is the author of the Pittsburgh sports memoir, “Just Watch The Game.” Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast at pittsburghpodcastnetwork.com