Three years ago, former McCovey Chronicles editor and current vagabond Grant Brisbee got tipped a major story, but he ignored it because it just seemed fake. Three years later, he’s admitted it looks like the tip was right. They were “Pace of Game” initiatives that baseball has implemented on some level or another, as well as “Offensive Production.”
Grant, of course, went ahead and deconstructed how almost all of these initiatives would actually lengthen games. Because, in most cases, they would. Because generally they would hurt or limit pitchers, increasing offensive output.
Then, recently, Jayson Stark of The Athletic (who makes it worth the subscription) brought up that baseball’s current worries are about how there are so many more K’s and far fewer hits. Braves vice-chairman and former competition committee member called the trend “alarming.” Stark offers a number of suggestions that — surprise, surprise — would lengthen games by increasing offensive output.
Okay, it’s probably been said before, but let’s state it more clearly:
Having offense in baseball is diametrically opposed to having shorter games.
Games get shorter when outs come faster, because there’s no clock. Every little thing about offensive theory is about preventing outs (usually by getting hits).
So I think baseball needs to rebrand the whole “Pace of Play”/“Pace of Game” initiative.
It needs to be “Eliminating Long Periods of Time Where Nothing Interesting Happens™ .” (Or, LPOTWNIH for…short?)
Now, I’m a pitching snob. I love pitchers. I love the cerebral nature of a good pitcher-vs-batter battle. I don’t want to limit or devalue pitchers.
But yes, let’s get rid of Long Periods of Time Where Nothing Interesting Happens™.
Limiting mound visits? Yes, by goodness, this reduced LPOTWNIH.
Putting a timer on between inning periods? Yep, this shortened LPOTWNIH.
And to be honest, a lot of the things that are in the image leaked to Brisbee are more about getting rid of LPOTWNIH. Most of them.
(Not the mercy rule. That’s straight up trying to shorten games, and it should only happen in games where the players are eagerly awaiting their orange slices and threatening to riot without them.)
Not every rule change will effectively do this. Would limiting or eliminating the defensive shift affect LPOTWNIH? No, not really. But others, like mandating a minimum number of batters a relief pitcher must face, absolutely would.
So, baseball, take it from someone who is thinking of maybe interning in marketing. Let’s rebrand this initiative. LPOTWNIH™ is available for you to use! You’re welcome!