It’s a major issue for the independent Atlantic League, and leaders are taking another run at ways to quicken the pace of games with the formation of a Pace of Play (POP) Committee.
The committee is tasked with reviewing ways to reduce the average time and enliven the pace of baseball games in order to enhance overall fan experience. The committee will solicit and review ideas from fans, media, and baseball on-field and administrative personnel, in addition to proposals from committee members. The blue ribbon panel is responsible for recommending actions to the Atlantic League’s Executive Committee. Suggestions will be vetted for their impact on pace of play and length of game, safety of players and on-field personnel, commercial consequences and simplicity, while maintaining the fundamental rules of baseball.
The Pace of Play Committee is chaired by Tal Smith, former president of the Houston Astros and comprised of former MLB executives and players with over 200 years of collective experience in the Major Leagues, including Roland Hemond, Joe Klein, Cecil Cooper, Bud Harrelson and Sparky Lyle. Their suggestions, recommendations and findings will be published on the Atlantic League website and made available for review by any interested parties.
“The Committee hopes this will be a public forum where those who share an interest in our great game may express their suggestions as to how baseball might pick up the pace,” said Committee Chair Tal Smith. “All ideas from any sources will be objectively reviewed and evaluated for consideration by the Atlantic League and perhaps other leagues, as well. With over 40% of Atlantic League players having Major League experience, we are uniquely positioned to be a real-time laboratory to test and implement new concepts.”
The average professional game time in the 1970’s was approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, whereas today more than half of all nine-inning games exceed 3 hours. When Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run in 1927, the box score reported game time as 1 hour and 38 minutes. Many feel that the growing amount of “down time” during games is a larger concern than the length of the games; hence the Atlantic League has created the Pace of Play Committee.
“Last season, the Atlantic League collected an extensive data base of factors that affect average game time and pace of play. Forming the Pace of Play Committee is a direct result of that effort and will help make our game initiatives sustainable,” said Rick White, Atlantic League President. “The Atlantic League prides itself on being progressive, and the experience and passion of the Pace of Play Committee will help improve the game of baseball at every level and enhance the overall fan experience.”
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