Major League Baseball has made a proposal that would shorten between-inning breaks, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN.
Under the proposal, pitchers would be required to finish warm-up pitches and be ready to pitch 30 seconds before the end of between-inning commercial breaks. Hitters would also have to be in the batter's box and ready to start their at-bats 20 seconds before the end of each break.
After the average game length swelled to a record three hours and eight minutes in 2014, MLB has considered a variety of options for speeding up innings. In the minor leagues this season, pitch clocks will be used like they were in October's Arizona Fall League. Other possible rule changes could mandate that hitters keep one foot in the batter's box between pitches and cut back on the allotted time for pitching changes.
None of those changes is expected to be implemented in the majors this season.
According to Stark's report:
Baseball officials believe that if play is ready to resume moments after each break ends, they could shorten games by 10 to 15 minutes. Just those efforts alone would bring the average game time to below three hours without enacting any other pace-of-game measures.
Any speed-up rules changes would have to be approved by the players' union. Last week, outgoing commissioner Bud Selig expressed optimism that a consensus could be reached.
'We're in the midst of discussions with the union regarding potential changes,'' Selig said following his final owners' meeting as commissioner, ''so it's premature to discuss any details for this coming season at this point in time.''
Selig said he is ''very pleased with the progress we've made so far but Yogi [Berra] once said it ain't over `til it's over, so we're going to have to wait until it's over.''
Selig is slated to retire on Sunday. He will be replaced by MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred.
- Mike Fiammetta