Major League Baseball is back this week, and this year, the sport has a slate of new rules — all aimed at speeding up games. The hope is that if they’re shorter, they’ll attract more fans to the ballpark, TV and streaming.
Baseball games are slow, said Stefan Szymanski, a professor of sport management at the University of Michigan.
“The batters spend a lot of time hanging around when they come up to bat. The pitchers spend a lot of time winding up to pitch,” he said.
But now, there will be a pitch clock. At most, pitchers will have 20 seconds to throw the ball.
“By speeding it up, you can make it more exciting, and so [it] will attract more fans and, in the end, make more money,” Szymanski said.
Shorter games could sustain the sport in the long run, according to Khalid Ballouli, associate professor of sport management at the University of South Carolina. He also pitched in the minor leagues.
But Ballouli worries that the pitch clock will take away some of the things that make televised baseball enjoyable — like in a ninth-inning at-bat in the playoffs.
“Having only 15 seconds to capture the look on the manager’s face, the look of the dugout and not having any time to even scan the nervous fans,” he said.
At least those fans will get home at a reasonable hour.