Red Sox Hall Of Famer Joe Morgan Give His Opinion On The Pace Of Play
On Sunday, July 23rd, the Pawtucket Red Sox introduced Joe Morgan and Mo Vaughn into their teams hall of fame. During a media portion of the day, Joe Morgan was asked about the pace of play.
The average time of game this season is 3:09, an all time high. When Joe Morgan was the manager for the Red Sox, the average major league game ranged from 2:49-2:54. That’s more then 15 minutes per game.
Over the course of a 162 game season, that leads to an extra 40 hours and 30 minutes of playing time on the field (assuming I did the math right). Playing that much more baseball over the course of a 162 game season isn’t good for your brand. Your fans will get bored and not want to watch the games.
Morgan’s First Thought
During a major league game, I personally think that one of the most annoying things a manager can do is have a mound visit. Every mound visit can last about 90 seconds. If there are four to five mound visits per game, that adds about 6 minutes per game.
“The first thing I’d do is what Tim McCarver said. No visits to the mound. None. Just the manager goes out. You’re in or out. Why do I say that? Who’s listening out there when they come out? The pitcher ain’t. He’s mad” says Joe Morgan
Any time a coach goes out to the mound and tries to talk to his pitcher, he’s not going to listen. Say the previous batter hit a home run around 450 feet. A pitcher doesn’t care what the manager or pitching coach is going to say. He wants to throw the next pitch or get out of there. He doesn’t care what the manager says. Yes, there comes a point where the coach is just going out there to give the bull pen more time to warm up.
But giving the bullpen more time to warm up is a way to give yourself an advantage over the other team. Saying that, that’s another reason why a game can extend another 10-15 minutes. In a typical pitching change during an inning, it’s usually two minutes and twenty seconds between the time the manager comes out of the dugout and the first pitch by the replacement pitcher. Not to mention, a replacement pitcher usually brings down the pace of a game a lot.
Pace Between Pitches
The other thing that goes along with the pitcher pitching the ball is how long it takes them to throw the pitch. A pitcher who throws the ball right away like Chris Sale will always have a shorter game time. When Chris Sale pitches, it takes his no more then 15 seconds between pitches. When a guy like David Price pitches, it can take him 30 seconds between pitches. When you spread that over 100 pitches, that can extend the game 20-25 minutes, 15 seconds at a time.
“I time pitchers all the time. Most of them, with nobody on base, will throw the ball around 12 seconds or a little less. But then they go on 40 some of them. I don’t know how fans stay there and watch a four and a half hour game every night” says Joe Morgan regarding time between pitches.
That basically tells me, you need to have the pitch clock at the major league level. They have had the pitch clock in the minor leagues for a few seasons now. But you need it at the major league level. Yes, eventually every pitcher will be accustomed to the pitch clock since they had it in the minor leagues, but you need it in the major leagues now. Off the bat, you will easily get the average time of game below three hours. No one has the time to sit down and watch a baseball game for 3 hours. They just don’t.
Being In The Batters Box
Before the 2015 season, Major League Baseball put in a rule that the batter must have one foot in the batters box at all times. It’s rarely enforced. If the batter stays in the batters box, the pitcher will work faster. This will speed up the game if the batter stays in the batters box.
“I blame the home plate umpire because there is a rule in there that says hey get in the batters box. And if you don’t do it, the pitcher throws a ball and no matter where it is, it’s an automatic strike. They put in a rule 2 years ago that you can’t leave the batters box. You got to have at least one foot in. That didn’t last long because they didn’t enforce it. Which is irony because they are standing out there for four and a half hours. You’d think they want to do it for two and a half wouldn’t you? Case closed” says Morgan
It makes complete sense to start enforcing batters to stay in the batters box. There is no reason for the batter to get out of the batters box. For a fan, they want to see the pitcher get in the box and swing the bat. Otherwise there is no reason to have the rule in the rule book. They just need to get the game going.
If Major League Baseball doesn’t do something serious soon to get the game going, the game will fail. Kids aren’t falling in love with the game like they used to. They need to fix it to make it more entertaining or quicker to give people a reason to want to watch the game.