Baseball just abolished two of its time-honored traditions. No longer can a manager shuffle slowly to the mound, and no longer can a manager hold an extended conversation there to buy time for a relief pitcher to warm up.
In its latest effort to accelerate the pace of its games, Major League Baseball announced Thursday that mound visits by managers and pitching coaches would be limited to 30 seconds.
The clock starts when the manager or coach leaves the dugout. Within 30 seconds, the manager or coach must either leave the mound or make a pitching change. Umpires can break up any meeting after 30 seconds, and repeat violators can expect warning letters and/or fines.
Fans can see the clock, so the “Get off the mound!” countdowns could be epic when, say, Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell visits the mound at Yankee Stadium or Angels Manager Mike Scioscia does the same at Oakland Coliseum.
The average game time was cut by six minutes last year, after MLB required batters to keep one foot in the batter’s box, instructed managers to call for replays from the dugout rather than running onto the field to do so, and added clocks to enforce a maximum time between innings. MLB this year cut 20 seconds from the time between half-innings, shaving more than five minutes over the course of a nine-inning game.
The new time between innings: 2 minutes 5 seconds for a game on local television and 2 minutes 25 seconds for a game on national television.