Baseball is a game with no time limits. The only one of the four major professional sports that can say that.
In recent years, MLB has made a conscious effort on speeding up the game (to varying degrees of success), making it more fan friendly, as noted by MLB's official rules:
Rule 6.02 principally involves the batter's movement around the plate. Umpires will now quickly ask batters to move from the on-deck circle to the batter's box, will not grant time to a batter once the pitcher delivers the baseball, and will demand that the batter not linger outside the box in between pitches.
As far as Rule 8.04 is concerned, that one involves a prompt delivery of the ball to the plate by the pitcher. The plate umpire will actively encourage the pitcher to take his place on the rubber, warn a pitcher for his first violation of exceeding the 12-second limit between pitches, and call a ball for each subsequent violation by the same pitcher.
The SEC, arguably the most dominant conference in college baseball, has once again taken on an innovator role in college baseball, and will be experimenting with some very entertaining rule alterations for the 2010 season.
The SEC tournament will introduce a 20-second and a 90-second play clock, as well as tournament format changes.
To be politically correct, let us start with the lesser of the two evils.
Beginning in 2010 SEC Tournament play will have the same format as the Big 12 and ACC, where teams are to be placed in two pools and the winner of each pool will play for the tournament title.
The College World Series tournament format is once again, in play, however, there are slight alterations.
Games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will begin at 9:30 am central, instead of the customary 10:00 am start time, while breaks between games will be reduced to 30 minutes, down from the typical 45-50 minutes.
According to a report by The Birmingham News, a 20-second clock and a 90-second clock are to be initiated during the 2010 SEC tournament, not during regular season play.
SEC Associate commissioner, Charles Bloom, commented on the recent changes.
“It wasn’t just when the games ended. We weren’t hitting any of our published game times all day,” Bloom said in the report. “The clock also lends itself to a bigger issue, and that’s making college baseball more manageable to television.”
Additional details were released from the report;
The 20-seond play clock begins;
- With no runners are on base
- A ball is called if the ball is not pitched within 20 seconds
- A strike is called on the batter, if he is not ready 5 seconds before time expires
The 90-second play clock begins;
- When the last out is made, and ends when the pitcher begins his windup
- Batting team is penalized a strike if they are not ready in 90 seconds
- Fielding team is penalized a ball if they are not ready in 90 seconds
- Half-inning clock is extended to 105 seconds for televised games
- Play begins whether the network is ready or not.
This is not something new to college baseball. The Missouri Valley Conference carried out a trial run of these exact same rules during the 1990 and 1991 season.
Game times played out to an average of two hours and 37 minutes. A time that pales in comparison to the average game times of the SEC tournament this past season. Times ran a staggering three hours and 20 minutes.
Baseball is a game based on tradition, history, and carries a tremendous amount of pride with that. Introducing a game-clock, in my opinion is walking a very dangerous line, something that can change the game completely.
We all know that baseball is a business, and the length of games disrupts regularly scheduled programming, and upsets the fans, the schools and conveners’ when games run into the wee hours of the night, sometimes, past 1am.
Consequently, that is what is great about baseball. It is a game not bound by the rules of other sports.
A team consists of nine players, but the outcome is determined through multiple one on one battles, battles, that do take more time than usual.
Rules are meant to be broken, unfortunately, multiple tweaks and revisions can change it completely.
North Carolina coach Mike Fox, insists these changes are not necessary and the variation is minimal at best.
"My initial take on it is, I hope the ACC doesn't do it,'' Fox said. "I don't see the point in it. Everybody seems to be caught up on the fact that the length of our games is an issue. I just don't see that. I don't know why that's such an issue.
"I just don't see that it's necessary. If you shorten the game by six minutes, so what?''
Devon Teeple is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class.
He is the founder of The GM's Perspective, is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels. Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada. He can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.