Baseball believes less can be more, and will attempt to shave time from games with a series of initiatives to speed up the pace.
New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred recently introduced a series of changes that will be in effect this season, including letting managers challenging plays from the dugout and having the game ready to go immediately after a commercial break.
Players also are being asked to do their part, including batters keeping one foot in the batter’s box during at-bats with a few exceptions, such as a foul tip, a brush-back pitch or a wild pitch.
The average game time in 2014 was 3 hours, 2 minutes. In 1981, it was two hours, 33 minutes.
Never miss a local story.
With spring training games starting this week, players will look to adjust. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has been vocal in his opposition to this idea.
“We’re not doing it just for doing it,” he said last week, according to the Providence Journal. “I’m not walking around because there are cameras all over the place.”
Ortiz said he leaves the box to think about the next pitch.
The Royals spent some time Monday discussing the rules changes and other topics with Tony Clark, Major League Baseball Players Association executive director, who understands the concerns.
“It takes everything we’ve got to concentrate on what we have to do on the field,” Clark said “If we starting thinking about (a clock) ticking down or somebody screaming at us, it takes away from us doing our jobs.
“We have to be very careful about what we do, despite the fact that it might sound like a great idea at the beginning of the conversation.”
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer thinks players will figure it out.
“I don’t think it will be as bad as people are making it out to be now,” Hosmer said. “In spring training you try it out. You learn from it, get feedback from the umpires. All we’re trying to do is shave a minute from here and there and speed the game up.
“I’m just going to continue to do what I do, normal routine. If an umpire says I’m taking too long then I can try and work on it.”
Clark owns Kansas homer record
Clark, who spent 15 years in the majors, is the first players’ association representative who played the game.
“If nothing else, our membership knows that their interests are being represented … by somebody who’s kicked the same dirt they have,” Clark said.
His career spanned 15 seasons, seven with the Tigers, and finished with 251 home runs, making Clark the all-time leader in career homers from somebody born in Kansas.
“I didn’t know that,” Clark said.
Clark was born in Newton but had moved out of state by the time he was 4 and went to high school in California. But his father is from Topeka, his mother from McPherson, and he has many relatives who still call Kansas home.
“It was always neat throughout the course of my playing career to get newspaper clippings from my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. They cut out the clippings from Kansas newspapers and send them to me. It was neat to see stories about a hometown kid and made me feel like I was still connected.”