Major League Baseball’s Pace of Play: A Snail-Mail Warning Letter!

Posted on August 15, 2012 | in Baseball, Lean Wastes, Sports, Time Savings, Waiting | by

So when we last left off discussing the Major League Baseball pace-of-game regulations, we saw that the league has put an auditing process in place (albeit a questionable one) and there were rules put in place for elapsed time between pitches when bases are unoccupied.

(Also, thanks for linking to the post,!)

But now thanks to Adam Sobsey at Baseball Prospectus, we get this doozy.

Ekstrom Letter Major League Baseball Fines Delays Pitches Colorado Rockies Joe Garagiola Lean Blitz Consulting

(Photo from Baseball Prospectus)

This is a letter mailed from the MLB Commissioner’s office and signed by Joe Garagiola, Jr. informing Colorado Rockies pitcher Mike Ekstrom that he took too much time warming up between innings on two separate occasions in July.

I was unable to find this alleged “Section 1(d) of Baseball’s Pace of Game Regulations” – I thought it might be a section of the official rules of baseball but my searches have come up empty so far – so I can’t provide the full verbatim text of said rule.

That all being said, this letter (presumably sent by USPS) was mailed four days after the second violation. This brings up a lot of questions.

– Was Ekstrom warned by the umpire he was taking too long for warm-up pitches?
– Four days is a long time for official explanation of the violations. Was Ekstrom provided this information much earlier, maybe right after the game was over?
– How was this audited? Was there a fellow in the stands timing the gaps?
– If so, are there better ways to communicate rule violations to the violators in a more expedient timeframe?

However, this stands as another example of where extra time is injected into a baseball game these days when it doesn’t need to be.

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3 Responses to “Major League Baseball’s Pace of Play: A Snail-Mail Warning Letter!”

  1. Kenn Olson says:

    There are a lot of other ways to speed up the game.
    What happened to the rule that batters had to stay in the batters box between pitches?
    Nearly every batter violates this.
    Also, I believe there is a rule that the pitcher must throw the ball within 30 seconds of each pitch.
    But all of this is really petty. What makes the games so long are the managers excessively using their bullpens, sometimes changing pitchers after each batter.
    The first six innings usually flow at a decent pace but then it takes nearly as long to play the last three innings.

    • Chad Walters says:

      Kenn –

      Thanks for the note.

      There is a rule that indicates when a batter must remain in the batter’s box between pitches (and when they are permitted to step out). Rule 6.02(d)(1) states:

      “The batter shall keep at least one foot in the batter’s box throughout the
      batter’s time at bat, unless one of the following exceptions applies, in which
      case the batter may leave the batter’s box but not the dirt area surrounding
      home plate:
      (i) The batter swings at a pitch;
      (ii) The batter is forced out of the batter’s box by a pitch;
      (iii) A member of either team requests and is granted “Time”;
      (iv) A defensive player attempts a play on a runner at any base;
      (v) The batter feints a bunt;
      (vi) A wild pitch or passed ball occurs;
      (vii) The pitcher leaves the dirt area of the pitching mound after receiving
      the ball; or
      (viii)The catcher leaves the catcher’s box to give defensive signals.
      If the batter intentionally leaves the batter’s box and delays play, and none
      of the exceptions listed in Rule 6.02(d)(1)(i) through (viii) applies, the
      umpire shall award a strike without the pitcher having to deliver the pitch.
      The ball is dead, and no runners may advance.”

      So that’s for the batter.

      You can learn more about the 12-seconds-between-pitches rule when no one is on base in this article, where I covered both the batter delays and pitcher delays:

      There are things MLB can touch and things they can’t. Focusing on excessive use of bullpens would be legislating how the game is played. It’s very hard to mess with that without affecting the game’s results. What I’ve been focusing on is the failure to enforce rules that are already in place. No rule changes are necessary if umpires focus on the batter and pitcher rules as written.

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