MLB Eliminates Four-Pitch Intentional Walks
Major League Baseball has officially removed the four-pitch intentional walk that has been around for years. Per the new rule change, managers in the dugout will now just signal to the umpire when they would like to intentionally walk a batter. This move was made in hopes to speed up the game of baseball. But let's take a deeper look at the length of a baseball game compared to that of other sports.
The average time of a baseball game in 2016 was three hours and two minutes, according to fivethirtyeight.com. The average time of an NFL game is longer than that. However, the NFL is considered the top sport in America. There is not a single gripe about the time of an NFL game, but baseball has continued to get a bad rep for years about its length.
While many who think baseball is excruciatingly long love the move, those in the baseball world are not too thrilled with the rule change. Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis took to social media to give his thoughts on the rule change. Kipnis mentioned times in which he was being intentionally walked and the intentional walk went awry.
But I've scored twice on an overthrow during an intentional walk... ???? https://t.co/cSHhsBQknY— Jason Kipnis (@TheJK_Kid) February 22, 2017
While the average intentional walk is just over thirty seconds long, this is a good move for the sport of baseball. This prevents the fans from having to sit through four pitches that everyone knows are not even going to touch the strike zone. It also shields fans from waiting for good pitcher vs hitter battles throughout the game.
While I am a fan of speeding up the game of baseball a bit with this move, some other changes may not be appealing to the fans. Baseball has long been known as a game where the "human element" can be a huge factor. But with Commissioner Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball wanting to add a pitching clock, the human element will continue to diminish. Manfred has mentioned that he would like to add a twenty second pitch clock meaning pitchers would have twenty seconds in between pitches to deliver their next pitch. While that may speed up the game, the umpires also have the ability to do that by telling the pitchers to speed up their sequence if it becomes excruciatingly long.
One of the greatest qualities about baseball is that there is no clock. It takes twenty seven outs for the game to end with absolutely no time limit. Rules like the intentional walk change help speed up the game without adding a time limit in any manner. Using a pitching clock to tell a pitcher how fast his sequence should be in between business is not the best idea for a game that has no time clock.