Slowed down: New rules haven't exactly sped up games

06/29/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

Have Major League Baseball's new pace of play rules had any effect on the length of games? If you haven't noticed yet, prior to the 2015 season MLB introduced 3 new rules to speed up games. The first being that a batter must stay in (or at least keep one foot in) the batters box between pitches. The second rule allows managers to challenge calls from the dugout. And the third rule requires the game to be resumed promptly between half innings.
The average game length in 2014 was 3 hours and 2 minutes. With MLB's new rules, the average length of a game in 2015 was down to 2 hours and 53 minutes through May. 9 minutes. That's how much time 3 new rules have shaved off of the average length of an MLB game. But it also marks the first time since 2011 that the average length of an MLB game is below 3 hours.
Instant replay was instituted last season. Besides it's obviously intended effect to make sure the correct calls are made on the field, the thinking was it might actually speed up games because there would be less arguing between managers, players, and umpires over close calls or calls the arguing team didn't think went their way. But it seemed to actually slow things down. Former MLB player and baseball analyst Gary Sheffield said following last season, he hoped that replay would be sped up this year. Sheffield cited the fact that replay stops the game, thus killing any momentum a team may have on the field. He said a stoppage in play also takes the momentum of the crowd out of the game as well.

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The pace of play rules are working so far. Nine minutes may not seem like much, but the response from MLB's customer base, the fans, has been positive. The jury still seems to be out on instant replay, but it seems to be having the desired effect. Amongst sports fans, the thinking was that of the four major sports, Major League Baseball was the furthest behind the times. But with it's new pace of play rules and instant replay, it seems America's Past Time is actually catching up with the times.

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