Selig hopes for modest cut in game times
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig hopes for incremental progress from his new committee that will try to take steps to shorten game times.
“Nothing huge, but significant,” Selig said Tuesday, a day after announcing the new panel. “I just think there’s some things that we can do that won’t disturb the game and its history and tradition but will maybe do things a little better.”
Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz chairs the committee, which includes Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred, players’ association head Tony Clark, Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner and partner Michael Gordon, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and Major League Baseball Executive Vice President Joe Torre.
The average time of a nine-inning game has increased from 2 hours, 33 minutes in 1981 to a record 3:03 this year. When Manfred was elected commissioner last month, many owners said speeding up the pace of play and decreasing game times was a top priority.
Selig said it would be wrong to blame increased use of instant replay this year. MLB says the 1,230 video reviews through Monday have averaged 1 minute, 46 seconds.
“I remember Billy Martin, Earl Weaver, my pal Sparky Anderson, Lou Piniella throwing bases, kicking dirt, wild for 10 and 12 minutes,” Selig said. “We don’t have that anymore. So do I believe that this has contributed? I do not.”
Selig spoke at Yankee Stadium to present Derek Jeter with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. Jeter cautioned against changing the rules too much.
“The great thing about baseball is there’s no clock,” Jeter said. “Some fans come to the games, they enjoy the experience. They want to stay here for a long time.”
MLB can’t alter the rules for 2015 without agreement from the players’ association, but could implement changes unilaterally with one year advance notice.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said baseball should be “careful” of those doing the most complaining about game times and nodded at media assembled in front of him.
“Some of that is part of the beauty of the game,” he said.
Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria advocated the enforcement of current rules, such as 8.04, which states: “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call ‘Ball.’ ”
“I think that we as managers or coaches, when we sit here and we’re watching, the tempo, the pace of the game, with some pitchers it’s a turtle’s pace. It can be a little disheartening,” Renteria said. “Your defense starts to kind of get lax.”