Have baseball games become too long?
Frank DeFord talks baseball with the Online NewsHour.
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If you've ever been to a professional baseball game, you probably know those moments when nothing seems to happen. A batter steps up to the plate. He digs his back foot into the batter's box, and swinging the bat like a pendulum, prepares for the pitch. The pitcher checks the runner on first and fires a warning shot to the first baseman. The batter steps out of the box, adjusts his glove, checks his third base coach for a sign, and steps back in.
The batter motions to the umpire for 'time.'
For some fans, this is the beauty of baseball -- after all, as Yogi Berra said, it is the game that's "over when it's over," not when the clock runs out. But in this MTV era, Major League Baseball is worried that the game takes too long for television, too long to attract a new generation of fans.
The ideal length of game is a debate that seems to heat up at the beginning and end of each season. In the last 20 years, the average length of games in the American League has increased from 2 hours 30 minutes to about 3 hours. In the World Series, it's even worse. Last year the games averaged over 3 hours and 30 minutes. Bud Selig, the acting commissioner of baseball, has instructed umpires to start enforcing new rules aimed at quickening in the pace. The speed-up program has the support of both the players association and the umpires union, but whether it will work remains to be seen.
RULES FOR SHORTENING THE GAME:
Pitchers must throw the ball within 12 seconds after the hitter settles into the batter's box with no one on base. Umpires should not automatically grant permission for a batter to leave the batter's box. When given permission to leave the batter's box, batters may not step more than three feet from the box. Hitters are to give bat boys second bats to have ready in case of a broken bat.
IS the game too long? Will new regulations ruin the flow and rhythm of the game? Sports writer Frank DeFord answers your questions.