By Marc Lawrence, PaybookSports.com — MLB introduced a trio of new on-field modifications — a pitch clock, larger bases, and a ban on extreme defensive shifts — that led to a massive 24-minute reduction in average game times to 2 hours, 40 minutes, the league’s lowest since 1985.
The moves — all being continued during the playoffs — were initially derived from extensive MLB research on fans and were first tested in the minor leagues. The overall goal was to create a faster, more action-packed product that’s more relevant to younger fans. The initial metrics —including a 36-year high in stolen bases — point to an unqualified success.
Moving forward to the MLB playoffs this season, facing a five-day layoff before their first playoff game as the National League’s top seed, the Atlanta Braves made the rare decision to schedule a series of simulated games involving players from their top minor league affiliate, the nearby Gwinnett Stripers.
The move was primarily designed by the team’s baseball operations staff to keep players sharp during the extended downtime. But there was also a notable business refrain from the regular season: putting more fans in seats.
Over the years, both the league and various individual teams have used variations of “it’s a whole new ballgame” as a marketing slogan. But in 2023, there has been actual truth to that. It’s working