Has America’s Pastime Passed?


Daniel Leff

Major League Baseball (MLB) has always been one of the most viewed sports in America. Baseball has also been a very popular sport to play among youths. But has the game that was known as “America’s pastime” now become part of America’s past times? In the past few years, the MLB has slowly lost both ratings and viewers. Not only that, but many children are choosing alternatives to baseball, such as lacrosse. There are many possible reasons why the sport has seen a decrease in popularity, but the main reason is universally accepted to be that baseball is too slow. Baseball is a very slow-paced game with many long breaks. It is accepted that many people don’t have the patience to play or watch the game. So, what has the MLB been doing to speed up the games and therefore increase popularity, and why hasn’t it worked?

The MLB has implemented multiple rules and tested many more rules in an effort to speed up baseball games. However, none of these rules have proven effective. For instance, MLB has recently added a time clock to limit the amount of time that a pitcher has to deliver a pitch. Although this may sound like a good idea, “It lacks one simple concept: What is the penalty if a pitcher goes over time?” as senior Ipswich High School baseball player Jake Kivekas puts it. There is no answer to this question, which causes the time clock to just be a pointless timer in the stadium. Even if this could be enforced somehow, this would only shave a few seconds off of each pitch, which would not save a significant amount of time. Another rule that the MLB is contemplating adding is the rule that in extra innings, a runner is placed on second base at the beginning of the inning. This way more runs will be scored and the games will end quicker. The issue with this rule is that only about 10 percent of all games go to extra innings. So, “This would not impact enough baseball games,” states Kivekas. If extra innings are an issue, then perhaps putting a limit on the amount of extra innings that a game can go to before a tie or completely erasing extra innings until the playoffs should be considered.

What should the MLB do to decrease the length of games? For starters, they should eliminate visits to the mound. This is when a coach or a catcher talks with the pitcher after they are having trouble to calm them down. They are allowed to do this once per inning. But, if the center fielder makes a bad play you don’t see a visit to center field. The next action that needs to be taken is that the seasons need to be shortened. Although this doesn’t help with the time of individual games, it would lessen the amount of games played so the ones that are played are better and more competitive. One hundred and sixty-two games per season is excessive and needs to be reduced. This would also help each player to be fresh and healthy for the post-season. The last and biggest rule that needs to be changed, and in this case eliminated, is the rule allowing coaches to challenge the call on the field. Stephen Solimeno, another Ipswich High baseball player, says, “I am a fan of getting calls right, but it is not worth the time that it takes.” There has been a challenge that took almost 11 minutes to review! All of that time and more than half of the calls are upheld.

These are the best solutions to the problem of MLB games being too slow. Baseball is a dying sport, and the MLB is doing all of the wrong things to try to fix this. There is no debate that the slowness of the game is the main reason that the sport is dying. There are many ways to speed up baseball, but these are not them.