Pace of play
Game length in Major League Baseball (MLB) began increasing, with the 1988 New York Yankees being the first team to average over three hours per game. From 2004 through 2014, MLB games had increased from an average of 2.85 hours to 3.13 hours. This was in spite of decreases in scoring, with MLB teams scoring 4.1 runs per game in 2014, down from 5.14 in 2000.
In college baseball, the Southeastern Conference experimented with a 20-second pitch clock during the 2010 season, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association instituted the pitch clock before the 2011 season for when no runners are on base. During the 2014 season, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball instituted its own changes. These included a 12-second pitch clock, reducing timeouts, warm-up pitches, making intentional walks automatic by signalling the umpire, rather than throwing four intentional balls. The Arizona Fall League began using a pitch clock in 2014 and the Double-A and Triple-A levels of Minor League Baseball followed suit in 2015. Those levels saw a 12-minute reduction in game times.
Towards the end of the 2014 season, Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig announced the formation of a committee to examine the issue. John Schuerholz chaired the committee, which also included Sandy Alderson, Tony Clark, Rob Manfred, Joe Torre, and Tom Werner. Manfred, having succeeded Selig as the Commissioner in 2015, instituted rule changes to MLB before the start of the 2015 MLB season to address pace of play, including having batters remain in the batters box and the installation of time clocks to limit the time spent around commercial breaks. In 2015, MLB had a committee discuss bringing back the bullpen car.
Prior to the 2017 MLB season, the rules were amended to allow a manager to order an automatic intentional walk. MLB and the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) discussed the possibility of introducing the pitch clock at the major league level for the 2018 season. MLB opted against imposing it unilaterally, over the opposition of the MLBPA. Before the 2018 season, MiLB took major actions, including adding pitch clocks at all levels, beginning each extra inning with a runner on second base, and restricting the number of mound visits for full-season Class A through Triple-A teams. Also, the Arizona Diamondbacks of MLB announced they would introduce their first bullpen car in 2018.
Minor League Baseball expanded its pace of play initiatives in 2019 by requiring Double-A and Triple-A pitchers to face a minimum of three consecutive batters until the side is retired or the pitcher becomes injured and is unable to continue playing. Also, the number of allowed mound visits was reduced: Class A (9 visits), Double-A (7 visits), and Triple-A (5 visits).
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