Yankees News: Girardi Proposes A Way For MLB To Speed Up The Game


New York Yankees coach Joe Girardi has come up with an innovative way to hasten the pace of the game. His idea: Bluetooth. His proposed use of the technology is to communicate the manager with the pitcher without having to step on the field. Using Bluetooth would reduce the amount of mound visits a manager currently makes to his coach.

According to play-by-play data analyzed by ESPN Stats & Information, there where more than 9,400 mound visits by managers this past season. Implementing Girardi’s idea would drastically cut down game duration. However, it would also remove the strategic advantage of visiting the mound to give the pitcher warming up in the bullpen more time while reducing the damage being sustained by the pitcher in the game.

“I’m a big fan of Bluetooth,” Girardi says. “I think it’s the world we live in. They do it in football. And they do it in all these other sports. And I think it could serve our game really well.”

Girardi’s idea comes at a time when baseball is trying to hasten the pace of the game.

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At the beginning of Spring Training MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced the implementation of new rules to speed up games. Among the most important are:

  • Enforece Batters Box rule which states that a batter must keep at least one foot inside of the batters box at all times unless certain exceptions occur.
  • Installation of timers that will measure non-game action and break time between innings and pitching changes during each Major League game. They will be placed near the outfield scoreboard and another behind home plate. Immediately following the third out of each half-inning, the timer will count down from 2:25 for locally televised games and from 2:45 for nationally televised games.
  • Rules will be enforced through a warning and fine system, with discipline resulting for flagrant violators. No fines will be issued in Spring Training or in April of the 2015 regular season
  • Managers may now invoke instant replay from the dugout and will no longer be required to approach the calling umpire to challenge a call.

The Need for Speed

The average time to complete a nine-inning game in the 1970s, not including on-field delays, was 2 hours and 30 minutes. That increased to an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes in the 10-year span from 2000-09. This year’s league average was 2 hours and 52 minutes, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. During the tests, the length of games was reduced to 2 hours and 40 minutes. However, during the playoffs that time increased to 3 hours and 30 minutes, according to STATS LLC.

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  • It has become commonplace to see fans leave games after the seventh inning. Furthermore, the need for speed of younger generations and their necessity for constant information have made it almost impossible for them to sit through an entire game without flipping through the channels. Baseball relies on the number of people it reaches to charge advertisers.

    Outfielder Brian Barton, 31, who debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008, said his coaches are more aware of when he calls timeout in the batter’s box. “It’s always good when you try to keep the intensity level high, and I think that’s one of the main things that keeps it fun,” he stated. “I don’t think speeding anything up is a bad idea.”

    Atlantic League President Peter Kirk says that pace of the game is the most common complaint in fan surveys. “The world is moving at a faster pace, and we in baseball need to take that into account.”

    As groundbreaking as these measure are for baseball, not everyone is a fan. They have found their most vocal opponent in Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz who shared with ESPN’s Jayson Stark what he thinks about the new batters box restrictions:

    Mar 12, 2015; Bradenton, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) looks at the defense during a spring training baseball game at McKechnie Field. The Boston Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    “What made me angry was, whenever we want to talk about pace of the game, we just focus on hitters. The focus doesn’t go to no one else. … I see [pitchers] shaking their heads four, five times. That takes time, you know? And guys walking around the mound, thinking about what they’re going to do. Which I’ve got no problem with. What I’ve got a problem with, is that’s time taken away from the game. So how come it’s always us — the hitter?”

    • “Why can’t I [take time to] think and they [the pitchers] can? Because that’s exactly what is going on in our head when we are coming out of the box. We’re thinking. Our mind is spinning. And the pitcher’s mind is spinning, too. That’s why they take the time. … My problem is, if you’re going to come to me as a hitter and tell me what I’ve got to do, you should go to the pitcher and tell them what they’ve got to do so we are even. But if it’s going to go just against us, I don’t think it’s fair.”
    • “I go with the pitcher’s rhythm. But I’m not going to see a pitcher walking around the mound and I’m just going to be sitting in the box, just waiting for him to get ready. I don’t know how that’s going to work. You go fast for your thing? I’ll go fast for mine. But if you’re going to take your time, I’m going to take mine, too. Know what I’m saying? That’s the way I think it should be. But we’ll see. We’ll see how it plays out.”

    Regardless of what players and managers think, the league is moving forward with its new rules. The reason MLB is so fixated on pace of the game is that they have seen tangible results from their experiments in the Arizona Fall League. Last season they were able to reduce the average length of games by 10 minutes. However, there are substantial differences between playing in MLB and playing in the AFL.

    Whether MLB achieves its goal or not won’t depend on the rules themselves, but in the leagues ability to reign in polarizing figures such as Ortiz and getting all the players to cooperate.

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