Before this season started the big news was how, in the bigs, baseball would implement a between-innings clock and mandate that batters stay in the batters box. In the minors those rules applied, plus the implementation of a 20-second pitch clock. The results have been pretty darn good reports the New York Times:
Chris Marinak, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president for league economics and strategy, said the average length of a nine-inning game had declined from 3 hours 2 minutes in 2014 (the first time it had been over 3 hours) to 2:54. Marinak said the eight-minute drop was the biggest decline in game time since 1963.
In the minors, where the pitch clock is also helping to move things along, the reduction has generally been even larger. Through games on Aug. 17, the average length of a nine-inning game in the Class AAA International League had fallen to 2:41, from 2:56 in 2014, a 15-minute decline that was the biggest among the minor leagues.
Right behind was the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, with a drop to 2:45 from 2:58. In Class AA, the Eastern League shaved off 12 minutes (2:38 from 2:50) and the Southern League, 11 minutes (2:41 from 2:52).
The clocks are weird and the idea of putting a clock on baseball seems wrong somehow. But baseball players are nothing if not creatures of habit and routine. After a short time with the clocks, they changed those routines and have gotten into quicker ones, I reckon. Just like they slowly, over the course of a decade or so, got into the habit of taking their sweet dang time.
As for time, that’s secondary. Most fans probably don’t think too much about ten or 15 minutes here or there unless they’re closely watching the clock. But the pace that leads to that time being shaved off is noticeable. That better pace, with slightly less dead time between pitches, has been improved, and that’s the real takeaway here.