MLB’s pace-of-game committee has proposed several rule changes geared at speeding up the game, which over the last few decades have neared an average of three hours, up from two hours and twenty minutes in the 60s.
Among the many proposed rules are steps toward keeping batters inside the batter’s box, timing pitchers delivery to the plate, and reducing the amount of time between innings.
However, the proposed changes that are garnering the most attention are the suggested additional mascot races, and introducing clown fights between the top and bottom of the fifth inning.
MLB’s Bob Manfred spoke to media last week outside of MLB headquarters:
“We believe that adding more mascot races and introducing clown fights would help keep viewers’ attention, especially during really boring games. It may seem counter-intuitive to add events to the game, if what we’re trying to do is speed the game up, but we see this as a way to make the game seem faster [...] Fans want more excitement during the games, and we’re poised to do whatever it takes to give that to them.”
Additional mascot races could include competitions between a variety of local and regional foods. Local brands could also be called upon to create mascots and run them during races for a small commercial fee.
Red Sox owner John Henry told SJN he would be “Open to the idea of of having a Dunkin’ Donuts guy race against a can of Narragansett or something. Maybe we can toss a lobster roll in their too.”
In a conversation with SJN editors, Chicago White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf mentioned he’d “like to see Hawk Harrelson put on a big hawk suit and race against a deep-dish pizza or something. That would be great.”
Clown fights, a longstanding tradition in minor league baseball could also be incorporated as early as the 2015 season should talks with the World Clown Association progress as planned, according to Manfred.
Between the top and bottom of the fifth inning, clowns would enter the field via home and away bullpens, and converge between the pitcher’s mound and second base where they would fight until the home team’s defense takes the field. Once all nine players have fielded their positions, whichever clown appears to have battered his opponent more thoroughly would be given a cream pie in the face-area and escorted off the field by stadium security.
SJN has reached out to other MLB owners on the topic and we expect to have more thoughts and comments on the proposed changes in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more info on proposed MLB rule changes by following SJN on Twitter.