A couple of weeks in and, lo and behold, the games are shorter

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Bob Nightengale and some folks at USA Today have broken it all down in the early going and find that the pace-of-play rules seem to be working:

We’re seeing quicker games. At a snappy pace. Games have been shortened by eight minutes from a year ago, according to USA TODAY Sports’ research, reducing the average time of a nine-inning game to 2 hours, 54 minutes.

This could be the first time since 2004 the average time of game won’t increase from the preceding season.

At least we assume that the reason for the shorter games are the pace-of-play rules working. It’s hard to make that judgment with 100% certainty given all of the factors comprising a baseball game. But Nightengale talks to some players who provide anecdotal evidence that the rules are working. And it’d be silly to assume that they haven’t at least had some effect, if not more effect than any other single factor.

And they may have more effect in the future, Nightengale reminds us. So far, there have only been warning letters issued to lollygagging players. After May 1, fines will start being leveled.