Baseball leadership is concerned that the “pace of play” issues have slid backward and games in 2016 are lasting longer than those in recent years. They want the trend stopped but are in a rough spot in getting it done.
The reason is that the slowdown is not really caused (to any great extent) by replays of questionable calls or by television’s need for commercial time between innings. The latter is no different than in recent years. The former only factors a limited number of times per game and often is not used at all in many games.
No, the problem is the game is played differently than it was years ago. It became strategically fashionable to try to get pitchers to throw as many pitches as possible or to “work the count” as the phrase went. This resulted in hitters seeing more pitches per at bat than in the past with far fewer first pitch swingers.
In the 1940s up to the 1970s games were routinely played in less than 2:30 and some barely got past the two hour mark. Hitters swung the bat. Now, perhaps the result of detailed scouting reports they swing much less and almost look as though they are waiting for the perfect pitch the reports say the pitcher will ultimately throw.
The end result is higher pitch counts that result in more strikeouts and walks…and thus more pitches and time expended.
What is worse than the time is that the game is less interesting to watch. Putting the ball in play gets things going. Watching pitch after pitch resulting in a walk to first base or back to the dugout is not going to attract many new fans.
This is not likely going to change either. Oh, a suggestion to cut the number of pitches needed for either a walk or a strikeout will be suggested, but that no answer. Hitters would be dispatched quicker with the end result even more walks and strikeouts.
When the NBA discovered defense and the NFL started playing offense more conservatively both those games suffered. And guess what? They have the same problem NBA and NFL games are getting longer and longer, too!
Guess died-in-the wool sports fans will either have to put up with the longer games, switch to soccer or don’t go in person anymore and just watch recorded games on TV that can be put on fast forward during slow periods or during breaks. There is a whole lot of nothing on the field or court these days…way more than there should be.