It’s Opening Day for Major League Baseball. All 30 teams swing into action Thursday.
When MLB was formed in 1903, the season traditionally ran from April through October. But with the expansion of postseason playoffs, the season now starts in late March and wraps up with the World Series in early November.
For fans who lament the pace of the game, there is a new rule in place to speed up the action. Beginning this season, MLB will instill the pitch clock.
Only 30 seconds will be allowed between batters, and pitchers must begin their windup before the clock runs out. Pitchers will have 15 seconds to begin their windup with no runners on base and 20 seconds with runners on base. If the clock runs out, the runner gets an automatic ball. Batters must face pitchers in 8 seconds or less, or face an automatic strike.
The move by MLB is designed to shorten the game. The average game time last season was 3 hours and 33 seconds , according to MLB. In 1970, the average game length was 2 hours and 30 minutes.
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Baseball’s viewership has declined in recent years. According to Statista, the World Series drew 11.8 viewers in 2022, down more than 50% from 2016 when it drew 23.4 million viewers. Baseball fans think speeding up the game will help reverse the declining trend.
“The pitch clock is a great asset if we want to keep younger fans,” said Daniel L. Wong, a Blue Jays fan who lives in a suburb of Toronto.
Bobby Intharasaka is a New York Mets fan who lives in Miami and will see the Mets play the Miami Marlins this weekend. While he thinks the pitch clock will take some getting used to, it’ll help the game.
“Although it’s counter to what fans have been used to for generations, it will create strategies by pitchers, coaches and batters to adjust, make the game move along.”