â†µâ‡¥The official rule -- 8.04 for those keeping score at home -- says pitchers have 12 seconds when there are no runners on base, according to MLB spokesman Pat Courtney. Last year’s average was 27 seconds, according to Stats LLC. â†µâ‡¥When pitchers break the rule, they can be assessed a ball on the ball-strike count. It happened 15 to 20 times last season and baseball intends to aggressively enforce the rule this season. â†µâ†µ
â†µIn 2000, Frank Robinson was hired to help correct the problem, but he left the position in 2002 to manage the Expos. Bob Watson was then brought on as his replacement. Watson has groused about the enormity of the task before him, while at the same time touting the incremental progress the game has made. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe average length of an MLB game has dipped slightly from two hours 58 minutes in 2000 to two hours 52 minutes last season. Accordingly, only three teams (the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers) average longer than three hours per contest. That's down from nine teams averaging more than three hours in 2000. â†µâ†µ
â†µWatson said a 14-member special commission met for the first time in January to come up with further methods to shorten games. Among those discussed were stricter enforcement of rules, curbing mound conferences and not allowing batters to step out of the box during an at-bat. At this point it all sounds very tentative, so it's unlikely to affect the 2010 season. And unless Watson gets heretofore unseen authority in his position, it's only going to be seen as token efforts to appease the game's harshest critics. â†µâ†µ
â†µ(H/T to Walkoff Walk) â†µâ†µ
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