03/27/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
Spring training baseball games. Nobody watches them, right? But maybe you should tune into one. Because there is some change coming to Major League Baseball this season with the new "Batters Box Rule".
In an effort to speed up games, MLB has instituted a new rule that requires batters to keep at least one foot in the batters box at all time except for swinging strikes. The average length of a MLB game in 2014 was 3 hours and 2 minutes. To make games faster, this along with requiring both batters and pitchers to be ready to go right out of any television commercial breaks.
So why the change? Well let me clarify that these aren't new rules. Both of these rules are already in MLB's rule book. But new commissioner Rob Manfred is requiring them to actually be enforced to increase the pace of games. The reason? Because Manfred wants to make the games more appealing to younger fans. The average age of World Series viewers in 2014 was over 50. Manfred wants to increase the younger viewership to decrease the average age of MLB viewers, because at an average age of over 50 and with a lack of interest from younger viewers, your audience will be dying off without the same numbers to replace them.
The only problem with these "new" rules is there really isn't much of a punishment for violators. The discipline consists of a warning system to start, then fines to follow. But the cost of the fine is $500, which isn't really going to put a dent in the bank account of a guy making $10-million dollars a year. But I'll give Rob Manfred credit, he's trying to relate to todays generation to bring in a younger audience. There was a lot of skepticism about instituting instant replay last season, but that turned out to be pretty good, right?
Let's face it...kids today have the attention span of a puppy with too many toys to choose from. The days of kids sitting down and watching a baseball game for the sake of watching baseball are gone. Kids would rather take selfies all game instead of actually watching what's happening on the field. Keeping score with an actual scorebook at a game has been replaced by texting on IPhones. With hundreds of channels to choose from, baseball has a lot more competition with reality shows and the such that appeal to younger viewers. And of course, kids would rather play video games than watch baseball. Or even play it. Or even play outside. And you wonder why there's an obesity problem amongst America's youth. But that's a story for another time.
MLB's "new" old rules are a step in the right direction in making the game more appealing to todays generation. And finding popularity amongst younger viewers will give baseball a chance to remain America's Past Time instead of America's Past It's Prime.
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