Atlantic League issues release on pace-of-game rules

Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Atlantic League news

Maroon PR, the public relations agency now working for the Atlantic League, sent out a press release Thursday afternoon detailing the pace-of-game rules being enforced this season to speed up the completion times of games.

The full press release is below. It’s worth noting that, for the first time, alcohol is also being prohibited from team clubhouses this year.

ATLANTIC LEAGUE TO EXPERIMENT WITH RULES TO SPEED UP BASEBALL GAMES
League to collect data and experiment with ways to reduce average game time
and improve pace

Camden, NJ – The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc., today
announced plans for a season long experiment to explore ways to reduce the
average time of a nine-inning Atlantic League baseball game and to improve
the pace of professional games regardless of length. Extensive data will be
collected this season to assist in evaluating suggested changes.

“The Atlantic League is the closest level of professional baseball to the
Major Leagues,” said Atlantic League President Peter Kirk. “Approximately
40% of players in the Atlantic League have been in the Major Leagues, we
adhere to the Major League Official Rules, and – unlike the developmental
minor leagues (Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A) that are primarily responsible
for developing young players – Atlantic League teams are totally focused on
winning, just as MLB teams are. In the last 15 years, more than 600 Atlantic
League players have had their contracts purchased by Major League Clubs, and
we will be sharing the data we collect this season on pace and length of
games with MLB,” Kirk added.

According to MLB, the average game time in the 1970′s was 2 hours and 30
minutes. Today, more than half of all nine inning games exceed 3 hours.
“Duration and pace of games have become out of touch with our fan base who
need to go to work and go to school in the morning, and who are used to the
faster pace of other professional sports,” said Atlantic League Executive
Director Joe Klein, a former Major League General Manager of the Detroit
Tigers, Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. “We are not trying to change
the game, only to help to keep it in tune with the times,” according to
Klein.

“Historically in baseball, it has been the minor leagues that have been the
laboratory for Baseball innovations,” added Klein.  “For example, back in
the day, all baseball games were played in the daytime, until the minor
leagues first experimented with lights for night games. Once it was
perfected, the big leagues adopted it. We hope to come out of this season
with faster games and some ideas that could be considered by Major League
Baseball. Some of the things will work and, invariably, some will not but we
know that this is has been an issue in our game for a very long time. “

Elements of the 2013 Atlantic League Experiment Include:

. Strike Zone – The Strike Zone defined in the Major League Official Rules
will be called by Atlantic League umpires in 2013. In practice, despite the
rulebook definition, professional baseball pitches above the belt are
generally called a “ball” these days. In the past, the Official Rules Strike
Zone was called and the Atlantic League would like to attempt to measure the
effect of calling the existing rule on pace of the games. The objective of
enforcing the Rule Book Strike Zone is to see if this will reduce number of
pitches in a game and to speed up play by encouraging hitters to put balls
in play earlier in the count.

. Hitters – Existing Rule 6.02 prohibiting hitters intentionally leaving the
batter’s box and delaying the game will be enforced.  Managers and umpires
shall strongly encourage hitters to be ready to bat, and hitters shall
minimize time between pitches. Hitters are not to step out of the batter’s
box after every pitch. Public Address announcers must stop player walk out
music once the hitter enters dirt area around home plate. After a warning,
umpires may call a ‘Strike’ for additional violations.

. Pitcher Warms Ups – Existing Rule 8.03 which states “Pitchers will be
allowed eight (8) warm up pitches, but shall not consume more than one (1)
minute” will now be enforced, as will Existing Rule 8.04 which states “when
the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter
within 12 seconds after he receives the ball.” After a warning, each time
the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call
‘Ball’.

. Time between Half Innings – Existing Rule 9.05 regarding “keeping the game
moving” will be enforced. Umpires and Official Scorers shall monitor time
from the making of last out until first pitch of next half inning is thrown.
Goal is 90 seconds or less instead of the existing 120 to 150 seconds.

. Frequent Visits to the Mound – During the first half of the 2013 season,
the Atlantic League will also be evaluating whether modifications to the
rules regarding mound visits by the manager, coaches, and position players
should be added to the experimental program. While this evaluation is being
made, managers have been requested to attempt to minimize mound visits and,
where feasible, make pitching changes between innings rather than during an
inning.

. Game Reports – Within 24 hours following the end of any nine inning game
that exceed 2 hours 45 minutes, a written report describing what events
caused the game to exceed the 2 hour 45 minutes must be sent to the League
Office, by each Manager, Umpires, home club General Manager and Official
Scorer.

. Enforcement – This experimental program is a cooperative effort involving
all Atlantic League players, Managers, Coaches, Umpires and Front Office.
The League expects voluntary compliance and does not anticipate needing
enforcement actions that might disturb the flow or integrity of the Game. As
data is collected and evaluated adjustments to this program may be made from
time to time.

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