Forbes' Maury Brown wrote about MLB's pace of play this morning and took a look at all 30 teams and their home/road time of game splits. For all the complaints about Bruce Bochy's pitching changes, double switches, and slow walks to the mound, the Giants fared quite well in this analysis. In fact, given the data presented in the article, it could be argued that this new 30-second mound visit rule should be called "The Coors Rule".
A game at AT&T Park ran 2 hours, 52 minutes, on average, last season. That ranks in the top 25% of the entire league in terms of fastest and is tied for the fastest in the NL with Washington. By comparison, road games averaged 3 hours, 1 minute. Those extra 9 minutes certainly allowed for CSN Bay Area to cram in more shots of Giants fans on the road, closeups of concession offerings, and more commercials, but they weren't the result of the Giants pitching staff being mostly terrible last season. The Giants, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers are the four slowest teams in terms of road games, and that was because the two slowest teams overall -- one of them being Arizona -- play in the NL West, and the slowest games in the entire sport are played at Coors Field.
Coors Field, you slow, miserable, hellscape. A game played there in 2015 averaged 3 hours, 9 minutes. The Giants somehow managed to hold games to their road average, but the Diamondbacks (3:17) and the Dodgers (3:18) played marathons there. The Giants were even able to get through a house of horrors quickly. But a potential new house of horrors has cropped up. The series at Wrigley was a spectacular embarrassment, as memorably expectations-crushing as Bochy letting Jake Peavy start the seventh in LA, and those games felt long and miserable because they *were* long and miserable, averaging 3 hours, 16 minutes. Even the 2-0 shutuout, the final game of the series, lasted 3 hours, 13 minutes. So, if the Giants are still in the playoff hunt come September, that series at Wrigley is likely to be as excruciating as any 4-game series you've ever seen.
Which means it'd be as excruciating as most Giants-Padres games at Petco.
Perhaps it's not a surprise that the average game there was 3 hours, 13 minutes long. Win or lose, those games are usually painful to watch. At least it's not the Giants' fault.
And when it comes to pace of play and time of game, the idea that shortening length will somehow make the game more watchable doesn't really track because any time saved will go to more commercial spots and adjusting how the game is played to pick up the pace will eventually change the game into something it's not. Baseball is great television, but television is bad baseball. Television thinks baseball is boring and treats it accordingly, but also holds it to the standard of a primetime event, necessitating late start times and unnatural game rhythms. Playoff and World Series games are scheduled to run past 10pm for most of the country by the very networks that air the games, but sure, the key to getting more kids invested in the game is making the players pick up the pace and putting in more clocks to an untimed game.
The Giants averaged 138 pitches per game and used 4.43 pitchers -- the .43 obviously coming from Javier Lopez-Sergio Romo split appearances. Even if I provided you a list of all the other teams for comparison, what do these numbers mean in terms of pace of play and length of game? Do fewer pitches necessarily mean shorter games? Do fewer pitching changes lead to speedier games? Wouldn't fewer pitching changes lead to worse pitching which would lead to more offense leading to longer games? The league should focus on what it's going for with the game time initiatives and not get caught up in what the suits want, because the suits only want what the data tells them and the data isn't necessarily the most reliable in this instance. If the market research was solid, then there might not be the anxiety over viewership demographics, which is a very real concern.
The key to wooing new fans or grabbing young viewers before they're lost forever to the Snapchat Olympics is to appeal to them directly. Certainly, advertising the game's many stars has to be one of the methods, but a better one would be making the game more accessible and affordable. I don't know if that means sponsoring more little league programs or offering highly discounted tickets to schools for field trips to day games, but making the players play differently to satisfy corporate overlords has and always will feel wrong.
But I'm strongly in favor of doing something drastic to Coors Field.