Downstate baseball league takes unusual step to limit length of games
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Baseball Writer
Limiting mound visits is one thing. But if you really want to control the length of a baseball game, there are other, more direct ways of doing it.
One small league in Michigan is taking an unusual step. The United Shore Professional Baseball League says starting Thursday, its public games will not begin an inning after the 2-hour, 25-minute mark. Director of baseball operations Justin Orenduff says the idea is to give fans some certainty on when a game will be over.
“What we’re in hopes of is, we know that if it’s 9 o’clock and the game is still maybe dragging in terms of overall speed, then the family still may stay and get the full experience of the game,” Orenduff said. “Stay to the conclusion, because they know that there’s a time limit in place.”
The USPBL is a four-team league that bills itself as a “developmental finishing school” for players trying to reach the majors. The league was launched in 2016 and plays in the Detroit suburb of Utica.
The USPBL’s time limit comes as officials through all levels of baseball consider how to expedite play. The major leagues have adopted pace-of-play changes, such as limiting mound visits. In the minors, extra innings start with a runner at second base.
Orenduff says the pressure of a time limit might speed up play.
“Unintended consequences could be the guys are rushing out there to get back out between innings, pitchers are warming up,” he said. “There’s no kind of dead time. Guys are kind of staying in the box. So we could see guys just naturally starting to kind of go about their business in a faster rate.”