For decades, baseball, with the oldest professional league in the United States founded in 1876 along with the National League, was the most popular sport in North America, not only actively but also passively. But now MLB has to lag behind the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) in terms of viewership. According to polls, about three-quarters of sports fans in the United States of America root for NFL and NBA games also have a popularity rate of about 57 percent, but only what happens in MLB ballparks is of interest to nearly half of the audience. .
One reason for this was the ever-growing length of major league games to be played. Although the game still lasted nine innings without an hour played, as it did on day one, the last MLB game ran about 3:10 hours. And big games, like the eternally young classic between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, ran up to four and a half hours, too — thanks to extended commercial breaks by TV stations. At a fast-moving time and given partly static events, interest is poisoned, especially among a younger audience.
A pitcher under time pressure
One of the most important measures for this is the “Pitch Clock”, which has already been tested in the lower professional leagues, to speed up the duel between bowler and batsman. The time the new mixture should be is limited to 30 seconds. The pitcher must also complete his bid within 15 seconds; If at least one base is occupied, he has 20 seconds. However, the clock doesn’t just stop – as in basketball – when the ball leaves your hand, but when the shooter starts throwing it. Each batsman must also be ready in the batsman’s box at least eight seconds before time is up, otherwise he will automatically be given a stroke.
In order to ensure more tension and movement in the attack, measures have been taken to facilitate the “stealing” of a base. From now on, the pitcher may throw a maximum of three times directly at first base in order to catch a potential “thief” on the wrong foot. If that fails on the third attempt, the runner is allowed to go to second base. In general, the “male” of this season is easy to catch: because the bases have been increased from 38 to 46 cm on the side. Shield spells have also been restricted, i.e. the ability to automatically reposition defenders during throws.
Not only should Pitch Clock reduce playing time to 2:30 hours, but it also offers significantly more action for fans, because pitchers no longer have all the time in the world to choose between fastball and curveball or change hands. It’s in the best interests of fans, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a presentation of the most significant rule changes in early September 2022, citing an interview study. “We give the fans the game they want”, against the resistance of the players, who, according to the union, spoke unanimously against shift conditioning and “pitch clock”.
The new dead salary crisis
Otherwise everything stays the same in the league – especially the salary gap between the rich and the poor. The New Croesus this season are the New York Mets, who have put about $500 million in new players. The pitchers in particular were upgraded to avoid an early finish as in the previous season, when they fell by the wayside in the first round of the playoffs after 101 wins in 165 games. Among the newcomers is superstar Justin Verlander, who won the World Series with the Houston Astros last year.
The Mets pay Verlander and Co $334 million in salaries this year, more than any other team in league history. That puts New Yorkers clearly ahead of their city rivals, the Yankees, who traditionally throw money. The Bronx Bombers are spending $268 million in payroll this year. Including other payment obligations to former players, the Mets also remain well above the stipulated cap of $233 million, which is the league’s “luxury tax” of $101 million.
The fact that defending champion Houston “only” spends about $180 million on his team shows just how wide the salary gap has become again this year – but bookies are still number one for World Series wins ahead of the Yankees and Mets. The cadres of the five “poorest” competitors could also be funded by the Mets’ financial expenses. This is from bottom of the Oakland Athletics eight times. Because director David Forest, who succeeded Billy Bean in 2015, also known in this country for his reincarnation by Brad Pitt, was only able to allocate about 42 million dollars.
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