Opinion: Baseball is about to be more engaging for viewers

By Farah Bassyouni Apr 14, 2023

It’s no secret– America’s favorite pastime is no longer baseball. Ever since the steroid scandals of the 2000s, the popularity of baseball has been dwindling. The sport has become synonymous with cheating players, crotchety old men and the most snooze-worthy games. 

As our entertainment has become faster and faster, baseball has remained slow. Over the course of baseball’s nearly 200 year history, the game has seen popular entertainment mediums come and go. Baseball has witnessed the shift from papers to radio, from movies to television, and from online videos to increasingly shorter clips. Today, what college student is going to carve out time to sit down and watch a 3-hour-plus game on television? TikTok and other reel-sharing apps have made it so that you can fill in the short gaps in your schedule with minute-long video clips. 

Now compare that to baseball, where the time spent in between pitches had risen to an average of over twenty seconds (and sometimes much longer). These lengthy periods in between pitches had become so egregious that a viral YouTube video overlaid one player circling the bases seven times before a pitcher threw the next ball. It was becoming a massive problem.

Enter the pitch clock. This new rule allows pitchers only 15 seconds to deliver the next pitch after the last one. This increased pressure keeps the game in a nice rhythm that it previously lacked, and it adds momentum for the players. It raises excitement for fans at the stadium too, who now frequently shout the countdown with the enthusiasm of Ryan Seacrest on New Year’s Eve.

Additionally, the Major League Baseball league has now banned the “shift,” a tactic teams have utilized in recent years. Essentially, the shift is something used against batters. The coaches will tell the defending fielders where to stand (sometimes moving across the entire field) based off of each batter’s statistics. Now you might ask, why can’t the batters just hit the ball somewhere else? Isn’t that what they’re being paid millions to do? In my opinion, though, it doesn’t really matter. Pitchers already have a huge advantage over batters, and people want to see scoring. Nobody wants to see the baseball hit right to where the fielders are standing every time. The viral moments come from diving plays, wild hits and crazy moments. Nobody is paying to watch a team of analytics nerds guess where the ball is going to get hit. We want to see these athletes’ talents get put to the test.

We are now two weeks into the new rule changes. So far, these rules have had an incredible impact. The average game has become thirty minutes shorter and the average score has increased almost 10 percent. Better yet, these statistical changes are also very observable when you sit down to watch a game. Increased scoring plus shorter games equals more action and more excitement. As a baseball fan, I don’t want to get up from the couch anymore or I might miss something. Momentum in baseball is real now, and it’s fun. 

Still, traditionalists will claim these new rules are blasphemy, and point to the fact that baseball always used to pride itself on never having a clock. But our culture is changing toward more immediate gratification, and baseball needs to adjust too. If it doesn’t, the game that these traditionalists love may one day not exist at all. These new rules make the game far more fun. If you enjoy baseball and haven’t watched a game in a while, check it out. This new brand of baseball is more fun to watch than it’s ever been and will hopefully usher in a new wave of young fans.

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