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March 1, 2023

MLB Changes The Rules. Why Not Track?

While there may be some aspects of the Birmingham World Indoor Tour Final schedule worth disagreeing with, there is one thing this meet got 100% right: its length. The good stuff was all squeezed into a 95-minute window, which is the doctor-recommended, most digestible amount of track consumption. I’m still trying to spend time with my family on Saturday! I can’t spend the whole day waiting for the 55th section of the boy’s 200m to finish up, just because I want to see Marquis Dendy long jump 8.28m in a ski mask and bucket hat for his farthest mark in five years.

Baseball has implemented a number of rules in 2023 to help speed up the game. The current average play time in a season of 162 games is 3 hours and 6 minutes and the average TikTok video is 12 seconds, so MLB recognized there was a slight problem. To try and remain competitive with other sports by speeding things up and increasing the offense, pro baseball will now:

  • Make bases bigger
  • Do away with the shift rule
  • Put in a pitch clock
  • Penalize batters for delaying

If you have tried to have a conversation with anyone with even the slightest bit of interest in sabermetrics then not only do you know how difficult it is to stay awake, but you understand that baseball is a game entrenched and swallowed by its own history. Sound familiar?

If the NBA can add a three-point line and shot clock; if the NHL can move the blue lines and reduce the size of pads; if the NFL can make up completely new rules every single year; then so can athletics. Let’s not worry about how fast Jesse Owens would have run in today’s spikes, or if it’d be controversial to relegate the events with the least fanfare. If we continue to push against reform then pretty soon we’ll blink and pickleball will have usurped us in ratings.

The Lap Count is a weekly newsletter delivered on Wednesday mornings that recap all the fun action from the world of track & field. It’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the sport. There is a lot happening and this newsletter is a great way to stay up to date with all the fun. Subscribe today.

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