For 2023, Major League Baseball has instituted a new rule:


In an effort to create a quicker pace of play, there will be a 30-second timer between batters. Between pitches, there will be a 15-second timer with the bases empty and a 20-second timer with runners on base. At last check, the pitch timer had reduced the average time of game in MiLB by about 26 minutes. This rule, which includes limits on throws to first base, has also increased stolen-base attempts. With this rule in place in the Minors this season, steal attempts per game have increased from 2.23 in 2019, at a 68% success rate, to 2.83 in 2022, at a 77% success rate.

They say that the game was too slow and took too long to finish, how times have changed!

I remember as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I was a big baseball fan. In NYC we had a choice of two teams, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. I liked them both and I enjoyed watching the games on TV. The Yankees would air on WPIX-TV, Channel 11 and the Mets would air on WWOR-TV, Channel 9. There was always a game to watch on TV.

There was something about being out of school during the summertime and being able to watch the entire baseball in the evening. There were some hot nights in the city and I would put a sheet over the sofa. You see, the sofa was encased in plastic (to preserve its natural beauty). There was no air conditioning at our place. To sit on the sofa in the heat would mean your exposed arms and legs would stick to the sofa. It was a hard time getting up.

Regardless, the game was on and I would intently watch every ball & strike. Batters would come up to the plate and I knew their rituals. Some made the sign of the cross before they got into the box. Some would tap their feet with the bat to get the dirt out of their cleats. Some would talk with the catcher about their good time out the night before. Baseball players are a very ritualistic and superstitious lot. I picked up a lot of these practices when I came to bat in Little League.

These were part of the game, an important part. It didn’t matter how long the game took, I was still there. Sometimes the games would go into extra innings and I felt I was getting more for my money. What money, TV was free back then. The signals rode through the air. You stuck with your team till the very end. The next day, I was informed to talk about the game with my friends. Who played well, who stunk, and who should be on the bench? We were experts of the game. 

Baseball has always been a traditional game, steeped in history. Any change in the rules is considered blasphemy. But they finally did it. They put a timer on the game because the game was taking too long. Fans today do not see the elegance or the grandeur of the game. Our lives are too busy and we can’t schedule that much time for it.

More to the truth, we can’t pay attention for that long. We now lose interest quickly. I blame ESPN for this. The only place we could get replays of the game was on the local TV news. Then came ESPN and wow, I could watch a condensed version of the game with all the important clips in less than a minute. Why watch the game when I can get all the highlights, for every game in the league for that matter, in a matter of minutes?

When I did advertising media buying, I would have to take this concept into account. It is called frequency. I would have to take a 3+ plus frequency into consideration. Back then, a person would have to see a TV ad at least three times before they would attempt to take any action. Today, they say it takes a 12 to 16+ frequency to accomplish the same thing. People’s attention span has greatly diminished.

It’s not only baseball, it’s everyday life. A person’s attention is all over the place. The invention of the intrusive iPhone made everything worse. If you are trying to get anyone’s attention today, you have a lot of competition on your hands. If somehow, you know of a way to cut through the clutter with your message, you will be extremely successful.

Over the years, my interests waned from baseball to soccer. We could tell our 3-year-old son had some athletic skills and eventually, he sided with soccer. Soccer is very clean, with two 45-minute halves, 15-minute halftime, and a few arbitrary minutes of stoppage time at the end. It is constantly moving versus baseball where it stops and jerks all the time. We have a need to constantly be moving.

Sometimes I long for a day when I can lay on the sofa, stick to the plastic, and watch an entire baseball game from beginning to end. 

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