MLB's Continued Struggle With Pace Of Play May Bring More Changes
The average time of a nine-inning MLB game has "once again reached 3 hours and 5 minutes, equaling the mark" set in '17, according to Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY. That comes just one season after the average duration of a game "ticked back down to three hours." Before this season, mound visits were "reduced to five, and innings breaks in most games to two minutes, with Commissioner Rob Manfred set to unilaterally impose a three-batter minimum on relievers" in '20. Hitters this season are "seeing an average" of 3.92 pitches per plate appearance, the "highest mark in the 21 seasons the stat has been tracked." There has also been a "record number of strikeouts -- 8.73 per team per game, shattering last year's mark of 8.48." That equals a "lot of time on the game clock before a ball's even put in play." While there is a "perception that the three-batter minimum will greatly reduce game times thanks to fewer mid-inning pitching changes, teams are using fewer pitchers per game this year (4.27) than last (4.36)." Manfred did not reach an agreement with the MLBPA to "impose a three-batter minimum, and it's fair to wonder how many more competitive facelifts players will accept" (USA TODAY, 9/4).
TOO MANY DINGERS? SI.com's Jon Tayler wrote this season has seen another "explosion of home runs," making some wonder if this is a "version of baseball that isn't baseball." Tayler: "Will people look back on a year like 2019, full of excess, and see this as a demarcation point on the way to a new version of the sport? ... The more the game embraces its extremes, you have to wonder how much longer before baseball becomes something else entirely" (SI.com, 9/3). In Indianapolis, Gregg Doyel writes, "There's something wrong with the baseballs that MLB is putting on the field." The Twins on Saturday "broke the single-season home run record" with a month left in the season. Doyel: "Home runs are cool, right? We love the long ball. But it's like dark chocolate or cotton candy or whatever your particular confection affection happens to be: Too much will make you sick" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/4).
PLAYER RELATIONS: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale cites several player sources as saying that they "brought up the possibility" of everyone wearing the name "Collusion" on the backs of their Players' Weekend uniforms "out of solidarity" over the free agent market last winter. Cubs 3B Kris Bryant: "The only trouble, is that you wouldn't have been able to read the name on the back of those jerseys, anyways. But we felt for those guys that went through what they did" (USA TODAY, 9/4).