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Elephant Rumblings: New rules bring shortened games, growing pains

MLB news roundup

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Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

New changes are in effect for the 2023 MLB season that were designed to shorten games and make them more action-packed. These changes include a pitch clock, a shift ban, bigger bases, and limits on pickoff attempts. Tyler Kepner at The New York Times reported on the measured effects of these changes so far, and some reactions from players, coaches, and commentators to the quickened pace that has resulted.

Kepner detailed the results of the changes through 35 games in the first three games of the season, and so far, they appear to be having intended effects:

  • The average game has been 23 minutes shorter than in 2022.
  • BABIP is up to .310 from .292 in 2022.
  • Stolen base attempts are up to 1.6 per game from 1.3 in 2022.
  • 87.5 percent of stolen base attempts were successful, compared to 74 percent in 2022.

Most of the comments in Kepner’s piece relate to the pitch clock, which many are clearly struggling to adjust to even though some acknowledge the overall benefit of the change.

The Cubs’ Marcus Stroman was the first pitcher called for a clock violation on Thursday. He still managed six shutout innings and a win against the Brewers, but later commented that the clock makes him “feel super rushed at times.”

The rule can affect hitters, too: the Red Sox’ Rafael Devers became the first hitter to strike out on a pitch clock violation in the eighth inning of an Opening Day game against the Orioles when he failed to look at pitcher Bryan Baker before the clock hit the eight-second mark. Hall of Fame pitcher and broadcaster Jim Palmer later commented that “It kind of left an empty feeling, and I’m not even for the Red Sox.”

After a high tempo game against the Marlins that finished in just two hours and nine minutes, the Mets’ Mark Canha said, “It’s a different game — you have to go on instinct and your brain has to move like this,” snapping his fingers.

Yes, the struggle is real. But I celebrate the shortened games, and in the wake of the A’s last two contests, I’m ready to consider a Mercy Rule. OK, not really—but you know what I mean.

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Sodie really cranked this one into orbit.

Wouldn’t be surprised to see Smith back in Oakland soon.

The pitching has been about what I expected, but I did think we’d get a little more offense.

HBD Stomper!