Life of a Sportsaholic

This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.

Tag: mlb

MLB Flops on Pace-of-Play Rule Changes

AP Photo/John Raoux

Over the past decade, the average time to complete a 9-inning game in the MLB has risen by 15 minutes (2:50 to 3:05). If you are a die-hard fan and watch every regular season game for your favorite team, that amounts to an extra 2,430 minutes per season (40.5 hours) throughout the season. In a technology and social media driven world, slowing down an already slow sport is a recipe for failure short and long-term, especially among the younger generations or fans. Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, is aware of this problem and has been working this off-season to create and implement rule changes for the upcoming season in order to speed up the game.

On Monday, the MLB announced these new pace-of-play rule changes for the 2018 season and to say they were underwhelming would be too generous. For all the talk and ideas being thrown around this off-season, from bullpen carts to pitch clocks, the actual changes are a joke and will likely amount to little or no overall change in the length of games. Let’s take a look at the new rules and how/if they will/can be enforced.

Mound visits

Each team will be limited to six per nine innings. Any manager, coach or player visit to the mound will count as a mound visit, except if there is a pitching change. Visits to the mound to clean cleats in rainy weather, to check on an injury or potential injury or after the announcement of an offensive substitution are excepted. If a team is out of visits, the umpire will have discretion to grant a visit at the catcher’s request if he believes there has been a cross-up between the pitcher and catcher. Teams will receive an additional visit for every extra inning played.

I don’t have any hard scientific evidence to prove my point, but I can’t see this rule saving more than 30 seconds to a minute per game. Let’s dig in just a little… As a manager, most of my mound visits are pitching changes, which don’t count against my total: no change. Pitching coaches commonly visit the mound following a pinch-hitter being announced, which are excluded from the 6 visit limit: no change. Pitching coaches and trainers often visit the mound to check on a pitcher if there is believed to be a potential injury, which are also excluded: no change. So essentially, this maybe eliminates 1 or 2 catcher visits to the mound per game, each being 30 seconds total.

The best part of this rule is the enforcement. It’s the umpire’s discretion to allow a visit or not after a team has reached their 6 max and can do anything, up to ejecting the player, if the rule is violated. Vague much? If you are going to have a rule, set a real and legitimate consequence, like having to replace the pitcher or an automatic ball added to the count. The best part about a vague enforcement policy? More time will be spent arguing over if there were actually 6 mound visits and in turn, will likely negate any time advantage, or even lengthen the game.

Between-inning breaks

As has been the case since the start of the 2016 season, a timer will count down between innings from 2:05 for breaks in locally televised games, from 2:25 in nationally televised games and from 2:55 for tiebreaker and postseason games. The difference now is that at the 25-second mark, the umpire will signal for the final warmup pitch and the pitcher must throw it before the clock hits 20. The batter will be announced at the 20-second mark and the pitcher must begin his windup to throw the first pitch of the inning within the five seconds before the clock hits zero. A pitcher is no longer guaranteed eight warmup pitches between innings. However, he can take as many as he wants within the countdown parameters noted above. The timer will start on the last out of the inning, unless the pitcher is on base, on deck or at bat, in which case the timer shall begin when the pitcher leaves the dugout for the mound. If the final out of the inning is subject to replay, the timer begins when the umpire signals the out.

Another gem. “As has been the case since the start of the 2016 season, a time will count down between innings…” So that remains the same, no change. The change is that a pitcher has to throw their last warm-up pitch before 20 seconds left on the clock, isn’t guaranteed 8 warm-up pitches, and has to throw the didst pitch of the inning with 5 seconds left on the clock. REALLY? That’s the extent of the rule change to “speed up the game.” If every half an inning and during pitching changes this actually speeds up warm-ups, it saves between 5-10 seconds, which frankly I think is incredibly generous. This saves a total of 2 minutes per game, assuming pitchers were all delaying the game previously. Beyond that, and I feel like a broken record here, what is the enforcement if a pitcher disregards the clock? Another thrilling solution with concrete consequences.

Instant replay

All club video review rooms will now receive direct slow-motion camera angles in order to speed up challenges and the resulting review. New phone lines will connect the rooms to the dugout and will be monitored to prevent their use for sign stealing.

Is this actually a new rule? The MLB didn’t have slow-motion replay before this year? The MLB didn’t have control over their phone lines to the replay office before now? I honestly don’t know what to do with this. Needless to say, this saves no time and in no way speeds up the game.

Upon review, these new rule changes are a absolute joke. If the MLB was going to unilaterally implement new pace-of-play rules this year, then they should have actually implemented things that save time throughout the game. By my calculations, in the most ideal of settings and without any discussion or arguments over the enforcement of these new rules (which we know will happen), the MLB has saved 2-3 minutes off the 3 hour and 5 minute pace from 2017, which was 4 and a half minutes longer than 2016. So essentially, the MLB implemented sweeping rule changes that likely won’t even return the game to pre-2017 speed. Nothing to see here.

How Rare is a 20+ Run Output in Baseball?

AP Photo/Nick Wass

After the Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 23-5 on Sunday, my brain kicked into full stats nerd high gear. The game seemed to be approaching or breaking a handful of records including an individual achievement: Anthony Rendon going 6-6 with 3 HRs and 10 RBIs. As a fan of baseball and someone who watches an unhealthy amount, I know a team scoring 20+ points is rare, but how rare is it? Thanks to, I dug into the numbers a bit more and was surprised to see the results.

Since 1913, a team has scored more than 20 runs in a regular season game 213 times. That may seem like a lot of times, it did to me initially, but context is critically important. In a given year, there are 4,860 chances for an MLB team to score more than 20 runs. If you back that out a bit, since the MLB expanded to 30 teams in 1998, that’s 92,340 opportunities for a team to score 20+ runs (not including 2017). Just for fun, I went back to 1913, factoring in all MLB expansions and the changes in number of games per year and figured out there were approximately 350,000 opportunities for a team to score 20+ runs, making the odds to accomplish such a feat just 0.061%. The rarity of the feat is fascinating, but gets even better.

In a pitcher-dominated era of baseball, we are seeing 20+ run games happen even less frequently than before. There have been just 10 instances since the start of the 2012 season, which works out to a 0.041% chance of seeing it happen over the last 5 years. Even more rare is the 23+ run output like we saw yesterday. Since 1913, there have been 47 such occurrences, which boils out to a 0.013% chance of it happening on a given day. Since 2007, we have seen only 2 instances of a 23+ run output, yesterday’s Nationals score and a 30-run effort by the Texas Rangers in 2007 (most ever). The results over that span shrink the odds of it happening to a minuscule 0.0041% chance. If you have tickets to an MLB game next week and are hoping for 20+ runs, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

For those who couldn’t follow the numbers, know this: What happened in yesterday’s Nationals game is exceedingly rare and is growing even more rare over time. Will we see another 20+ outing this season? The odds are against it, but you never know with baseball.

The Fall Sports Overlap and Overload


It’s about this time every year that my head begins to fill will a jumble of sports craziness. Ok, maybe that’s unfair, my head is filled with sports craziness all year long, but this time of year it kicks into overdrive. With professional football beginning to pick up in week 4, professional baseball in the stretch run, and college football in full swing, life is crazy. Then you add the beginning of professional hockey now and professional/college basketball in the next few weeks and my eyes don’t know where to focus. It’s hard enough to keep up with 2 sports running simultaneously, forget 4 or 5. Here’s how I prioritize my limited sports viewing time in order to get the most bang for my buck during a nutty fall of sports.


Since the Red Sox are very much in contention, they become the priority viewing experience, weekdays or weekends. Baseball is my true love and with just days left in the regular season and a potential championship contender in town, it has to be the focus. Once the Sox clinch the AL East (magic number is 1) and hopefully lock up the best record in baseball, I’ll have a small breather until the playoffs. Obviously, playoff baseball takes precedent over all else in October.

Also, since this week is the Fantasy Baseball championship for me, that will shift more of my focus away from other sports.

Pro Football/College Football

I limit my football focus to the weekends (unless UConn or the Patriots are playing another day) for now. Saturdays are for college football and Sundays are for pro football. It seems pretty logical, but can be surprisingly difficult to limit myself when both pro and college football are full-time viewing and following experiences. Between injury reports and match-up information, it’s an easy rabbit-hole to get sucked down on weekdays, but I must be strong!

Once the Red Sox season is over (hopefully not for another month+), I will shift the major focus of my attention to football. Since my Fantasy Football teams are terrible (combined 1-5), I may not have to worry too much about the fantasy aspect once baseball is over.

Pro Basketball/Pro Hockey

I know it’s blasphemy to say in Boston, but I’m just not a big NBA fan. I consider myself a periphery Celtics fan and enjoy watching an occasional game and following an interesting storyline, but can’t bring myself to watch on a consistent basis during the regular season. My wife would say that’s a good thing, because I love college basketball and pro hockey, which significantly overlap in seasons (not to mention the serious overlap with football), so I don’t know if I would have the time to avidly follow the Cs even if I wanted to.

The Boston Bruins are a newer passion for me. I grew up outside of Hartford, CT and was a big Whalers fan growing up. When they left Hartford in 1997, I denounced hockey for about a decade in protest. In 2007 when I moved to Boston, I began watching the Bruins and got the hockey itch back. Ever since then, for about 9 years now, I have been an avid hockey fan and a strong Bruins follower. On days when football is not being played and there isn’t a big UConn game (basketball or football), hockey is my major focus.

College Basketball

Being an obsessive UConn sports fan, college basketball season is often a joyous time. I follow the early season games as much as I can, but really start to watch obsessively after the turn of the year. January-April is prime college basketball watching season, with a special focus in early March and into April. Thankfully there are only a handful of earlier season games that are must-watch TV, allowing me to focus on other fall/winter sports until things really pick up. Regardless of what UConn does, the NCAA Tournament is the greatest sports viewing experience of any sport at any time hands down.

There are a smattering of other sports I follow casually during the fall/winter timeline, but everything else is secondary (or thirdary, or fourthdary, or fifthdary).  For right now, discipline and focus are the keys to successfully managing the sports nuttiness that is the fall. Happy watching everybody!