Silvi: MLB's attempt to speed up games should be applauded
The Seattle Mariners released its spring training broadcast schedule Thursday, the same day the players union rejected Major League Baseball's pace of play proposal.
On average, Mariners games traditionally rank as some of the quickest in baseball -- 2 hours, 45 minutes. That's almost cheetah-like compared to last year's league average of 3 hours, 5 minutes -- an all-time high for MLB games.
It's no surprise Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to add a little giddy-up to the games with a 20-second pitch clock.
I'll admit, I'm not the biggest baseball fan. I enjoy kicking back at the ballpark in the summer and soaking in the atmosphere and the occasional action on the field. In fact, I have the Dodgers series circled for a really relaxing day at the ballpark, especially in the late innings when the worst offender of all takes the mound. Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez averages 30.1 seconds between pitches. Some would call him deliberate. The rest of us would call him slothful. Baez has received numerous written notices from MLB to pick up the pace.
Granted, relievers typically want more recovery time between pitches to reload for velocity. The top five Mariners relievers averaged over 26 seconds between pitches. When it came to their starters, James Paxton was the fastest between pitches at 20.5 seconds. Felix Hernandez punched in at 21.7.
Both would have to pick up the pace to meet the commissioner's proposed 20-second clock, which the union says puts players in danger of getting injured -- pitchers rushing to get the next pitch off and batters hurrying in and out of the batter's box to take their swings.
The pitch clock has been utilized in Double-A and Triple-A since 2015, and it's been effective. In those games, if time expires, umpires call an automatic ball.
Along with a pitch clock, the other main component of Manfred's plan is limiting trips to the mound by managers and coaches. Although, if a pitcher confers with other players, that will also count as a "visit." Two visits in one inning and that pitcher has to leave the game.
The players want no part of this proposal, but the commissioner doesn't need their approval. From all reports, some form of these changes will be in place on opening day.
It's not a drastic move, but it's a good one, especially for the postseason when last year's games averaged nearly four hours.
Now cramming all that time into a three-hour window will be tough to do.
In the 1970s, that window was two-and-a-half hours.
Way back In the 1930s, games lasted under two hours.
Is that a realistic comparison? Nah.
But it is realistic to keep games from at least feeling like they're a century long.