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Rob Manfred Hasn’t Fixed The Time of Games. Here is How To Actually Do So:

The Athletic recently published a story on MLB commishioner Rob Manfred (sus. req.) and highlighted how he has pointed to his rules as now totally okay. Put in effect to shorten games, Ethan Semendinger rebuts these arbitrary rules today.

 
Rob Manfred on the runner on second base in extras rule: “Oh my God, it was like a crime. It was like you were committing a crime against humanity. Now … there’s lots of people saying, ‘You know what, this is actually OK.'”https://t.co/XL6mwOFo0T — The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) September 2, 2020

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A Look at the Arbitrary Rules Manfred has Added for 2020:

Going into the 2020 season was not only a long foray into increasing tensions between the players and the owners, as it seemed like a never ending discussion of butting heads on salaries and player health/safety, but it had seemed for a while that there would be no baseball in 2020. Luckily, an agreement was finally reached and we as the fans were able to get ready for a 60 game season.

During these negotiations however, the commissioner of the MLB Rob Manfred- or as he considers himself “the CEO of baseball”- was able to add a few different rules to the sport. This has been his M.O. since the beginning of his tenure, and these rules have been floated around always under the guise of speeding up games. For 2020, this meant three especially egregious and arbitrary rules:

3 batter minimum

7 inning double header games

Extra inning batter starts at 2nd

Have these rules helped? Nope.

If we look at the average length of a 9 inning game for the 2020 season it currently sits at 3 hours and 8 minutes. While this is truly only affected by the 3 batter minimum rule, this is still 3 minutes longer on average than 2019 (3:05) and 8 minutes longer on average than 2018 (3:00).

Adding in the 7 inning doubleheader games towards the average length of any game in 2020, of which there have been 38 so far (by my count), and of which have essentially eliminated about 76 innings of otherwise scheduled baseball, the average time drops to only one minute faster at 3 hours and 7 minutes. While this is 3 minutes quicker than 2019 (3:10) it is still 3 minutes longer than 2018 (3:04).

Can we really consider this to be a success within trying to speed up the game?

At best it has saved about 3 hours of baseball over the course of a 60 game season (when including 7 inning DH’ers) and at worst it has added an additional 3 hours of baseball (per average of 9 innings).

It really goes to show that for Rob Manfred’s biggest and most public desire, he hasn’t been effective.

See all time data here on BBREF.

 

So What? Do You Have a Better Solution, Ethan?

Well, it’s funny you ask that because I do. Or at least I have a system that is more effective than the current rules put into place without ruining the integrity of the sport by adding on arbitrary rules.

It’s a system that would save approximately 8.5 minutes per game, and it’s quite simple:

Between every half-inning cut one 30-second commercial.

In a standard 9 inning game there are 17 breaks between half-innings (there would be none after the bottom of the 9th unless there were going to be extra innings). Taking 30 seconds from each would cut down 8.5 minutes of time.

If you’ve ever been to an MLB game- or an NFL game, or an NBA game for that matter too- you’ve experienced that odd ebb-and-flow as players on the field/court wait for a commercial break to end to start playing again. It’s evidently clear that they are ready to play, but they stand around waiting as the stadium entertains the crowd with a message or video on the Jumbotron to keep them not focused on that fact.

And if you’d be worried about this not being easy to implement because of the loss of revenue from advertisements, there is a simple and easy solution to that too.

Think if you’re on the marketing board for Mercedes Benz, or BMW, or the Home Depot, or Budweiser, or whomever. The point of advertising is to make your brand known and to influence people to buy your product. In a standard commercial break your commercial would be surrounded by 4 to 5 others. With each additional advertisement the recall of your commercial shrinks. This system of removing would help to highlight those companies more.

Which is why, by removing one commercial from each break (hypothetically from 5 down to 4) you- now acting in a role at the YES Network with scheduling commercials- would increase the price to make up the difference. So effectively instead of charging $400 to be one of 5 commercials during a break the price would go up to $500 to be one of 4. Both ways equal to $2,000 of revenue.

In short, the system can be read as this:

Cut one 30-second commercial from between every half-inning, saving 8.5 minutes of time from each game.

While commercials would reduce from about 5 to 4 per half inning break, this would increase recall of those commercials as there is less fatigue and competition for remembrance.

In order not to lose ad-revenue, companies would have a slightly higher price to pay for an advert (by 125% in our system).

And best of all, I’m not directly ruining baseball.

 

Article By: Ethan Semendinger

Date Published: September 5th, 2020

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