OPINION: MLB’s pace-of play-rules grow more excessive each year


Photo by Arturo Pardavila III - Flickr CC BY 2.0

Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras looks on during batting practice at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 18, 2016. Contreras has been one of the most vocal dissenting players when the new rule limiting mound visits was announced.

Nick Koeneke

With the first games of spring training being played today, Major League Baseball’s 2018 season is just around the corner.

The birth of a new season almost always entails some yearly change coming to America’s pastime. In recent years, the MLB Front Office has made it clear that the pace of play needs to improve in a game that averages about three hours at the major league level.

This year’s change limits visits to the mound — except pitcher changes — to no more than six in any game.

This, combined with changes implemented in previous seasons, has fans like me concerned that the integrity of the game is being threatened to improve the overall spectacle in an attempt to reach a new audience.

The previous two seasons saw changes that include the expulsion of the four-pitch intentional walk and 30-second mound visits between managers, pitchers and catchers. These changes have shown a lack of consistency on what the MLB wants to address.

I have no problem with fixing issues that are outside the lines to help speed up the game; my complaint is with any new rule that tries to change the culture.

The players, more often than not, agree. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras — one of the most frequent mound-visiting backstops in the majors — has already said he plans on breaking the six-visit rule if he deems it necessary.

“I don’t even care,” Contreras said Tuesday to ESPN. “If I have to go (out there) again and pay the price for my team, I will.”

Other changes, like bringing back the bullpen cart and placing pitchers under a pitch clock, may be made in the coming years.

These changes will not attract a new audience to the ballpark. All they will do is anger the base of longtime fans already following the sport, including myself and many others.

I understand that baseball isn’t for everybody. It requires patience in a sports community that appreciates high-paced action.

Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred and his associates at the MLB Front Office are threatening the integrity of the game and claim that these “changes” will attract a new audience and create more revenue for a league that already made over $10 billion last season.

All I see is a lazy ploy to entice a new audience who are already disinterested no matter the case.

Baseball has been played for well over a century. I honestly believe that if baseball had these so-called problems that Manfred so heartily likes to proclaim it does, the sport would have died off long ago.