The independent Atlantic League is tackling a common issue in pro baseball: whether games should be sped up and how to accomplish the task.
It’s not a new problem: it seems every gathering of front-office types will include some discussion of whether games run too long, and the independent Northern League launched with the baseball equivalent of a shot clock — an experiment soon dropped when it became apparent the clock had a minimal effect on the game and was actually a distraction.
“We always look at game times, but we report them and we go, ‘Ok, we could do better,’ ” Atlantic League Chief Executive Officer and founder Frank Boulton told MyCentralJersey.com. “I think now the mindset is, ‘How do we actually speed up the games?’ We’re not going to be the revolutionary guys that put in a time clock. But could we be the guys who talk about or get to the point where we form something where you can’t step out of the batter’s box every two seconds and refasten your batting gloves? That might help.”
There are some things that can be done: umps can increase the pace of the game, between-innings promotions can be quickened (though there’s a natural tension there between sponsors, who want mondo exposure, and the teams), and players can be coaxed to move a little faster. But in the end, there just may be no silver bullet here — a feeling echoed by Somerset Patriots manager Sparky Lyle:
“Everybody has been trying to find a way to shorten the game for years” Lyle said. “I’d love to have a three-hour game. To have one now is like, ‘Holy (Cow)’ it’s only 10 o’clock?’ You would have to prove it to me for me to believe it will work, but whatever they do, if it’s not imbecilic, I’ll go along with it.”
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