Baseball's new up-tempo rules receive a standing ovation, so far

Sun May 3, 2015 8:22am EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major League Baseball's campaign to speed up its games in the hope of winning over more young fans has shown some signs of success in the first month of the new season. 

    Before the season began, Rob Manfred, MLB's new commissioner, said he wanted to reduce the amount of dead time during games without compromising the integrity of the game.

    But he conceded that he was probably being overambitious in his goal of cutting the average running time of big-league games to less than three hours, or two minutes lower than in 2014.

    To his pleasant surprise, the average game so far in the new season has lasted two hours 53 minutes, seven minutes less than at this time last year and nine minutes shorter than during the full 2014 season.

    "Everybody's been really pleased with the results so far," said Chris Marinak, the MLB senior vice president overseeing the program. "People who watch the games on a regular basis say they just feel crisper."

    The length of baseball games has creeped higher for years, worrying executives who hear the grumbling. Thirty years ago, the average time of a game was 2 hours 35 minutes.

    The average time of game shot up 5.4 minutes last season from a year earlier, largely because of expanded use of video replay.

    To cut the time between innings, Manfred instituted several clocks, one in the outfield and one behind home plate, to ensure that players are ready to play.   Continued...

Detailed view of the pace of play digital pitch clock in the outfield between innings of the game between the Texas Rangers against the San Francisco Giants during a spring training baseball game at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona, in this March 6, 2015, file photo. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports