By Aspen McAdoo
Major League Baseball (MLB) is not the most popular sport in the USA, but the MLB is hoping to gain more attention with new rules they are introducing in 2023. The viewership in the MLB is decreasing every year and the average attendance per game was 26,809 people in the 2022 regular season. In 2021, the MLB’s combined revenue was 9.56 billion dollars. But in 2016, it was 10 billion dollars. The MLB’s revenue wasn’t declining until it reached 2020 when the pandemic hit. The league still hasn’t bounced back from that dramatic decrease. According to sportsnaut.com, the average age of an MLB fan is 57. Also, only seven percent of MLB fans are under the age of 18. This is not very promising to the MLB because the people under 18 are the future of MLB fans.
The MLB is introducing four new rules in the 2023 season. The MLB is introducing these rules to attract more fans and attention towards the game. Those rules are the pitch clock, the defensive shift rule, bigger base sizes, and pickoff limits. A pitcher will have a 30 second timer in between each batter, 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty, and 20 seconds when runners are on base. If a pitcher violates the pitch clock it results in an automatic ball. If a batter violates the pitch clock it is an automatic strike. Each pitcher also has a pickoff limit, a pitcher can only step of the mound for an pickoff attempt or any other reason twice per plate appearance. The limit resets if the base runner advances to the next base. Also, the pitcher can attempt a pickoff to third but if it does not result in a out, it is an automatic balk. The goal of these rules is to increase the speed of the game.
“in the MLB there will be a decrease in the length of the game”
The defensive shift rule is to stop infielders from shifting to where the batter is most likely to hit the ball. The defense must have four fielders on the dirt and must have two infielders on each side of second base. The goal of this rule is to increase the action of the game. The last change they are making to the MLB is increasing the size of the bases. They are increasing the size from 15 square inches to 18 square inches. This will decrease the base path by 4.5 inches. The goal of this rule is to decrease collisions between the fielder and the runners.
The league wants the attention towards the game to increase, but not all people believe it will help the game out. Roshan Patel, a sophomore at Ponte Vedra High School, said, “I watched half of the Dodger’s game but only half of the nine innings because they played on the west coast. The new rules they are introducing wouldn’t change anything about the number of games that I watch.” The MLB is hoping that decreasing the length of the game will help get fans to watch. Dylan McAdoo, a sophomore at PVHS, said “I watch 95 percent of the Phillies games because me and my family are diehard baseball fans. I will probably watch the same number of games next year and I don’t think the game will become more interesting with the new rules.”
The new rules will increase action and speed up the time of games, but the MLB doesn’t know if it is enough to increase viewership. Ashtan Augusta, a sophomore at PVHS and baseball player, said “I watch less than one percent of MLB games. I think the game will become a lot more interesting, but, I don’t know if it will be enough to intrigue more fans.” In the minor leagues they tested these rules in 2022. In 2021, with none of the rules in play the average length of the games took three hours and one minute. But in 2022 with the rules in play, the average length of the games took two hours and 37 minutes. So, in the MLB there will be a decrease in the length of the game. There is little evidence in the minor leagues that the shift bans, or bigger base size has changed the game.
The MLB is treading water right now and needs these rules desperately to help them get back on the surface. But with people’s need for action and their short attention spans it will be very difficult for the MLB to get back to its glory days. Lastly, they desperately need to gain the attention of younger fans because they are the future and they control the fate of the game.