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Actionable Offenses

MLB confronts a problem of pace
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IN 2016, Major League Baseball drew crowds totaling more than 73 million, posted record revenues for the 14th straight season and reached a new collective bargaining agreement that will ensure labor peace through 2021.

The game, however, has a serious problem: pace of action. Consider these numbers and how they've changed since 10 years ago:

• Including home runs, there were 9,287 fewer balls in play.

• A ball was put in play every 3 minutes, 25.2 seconds—the worst pace ever and up 23.4 seconds from 2006, a 13.3% increase in dead time.

• The ball was not in play for 30.8% of plate appearances, up from 27.1% a decade ago.

Last week commissioner Rob Manfred announced that intentional walks will now be signaled by managers, without four pitches being thrown outside the strike zone. That is a prelude to more changes to come in 2018, which could include a 20-second pitch clock. These moves come over the strong objections of the players' union. Five All-Stars polled last week by SI rejected three pace-of-action suggestions: a pitch clock, limits on visits to the mound and raising the bottom of the strike zone.

So much for labor peace.

GO FIGURE

58

Games it took the 49--9 Warriors to clinch an NBA playoff spot, matching the record they set last season, when they were 53--5. Golden State wrapped up its berth last Saturday with a 112--95 win over the Nets; Feb. 25 is the earliest clinching date ever.

3.6

Career points per game at Saint Mary's for Mahershala Gilmore from 1992--93 to '95--96. Gilmore, who now goes by Mahershala Ali, on Sunday became the first former Division I basketball player to win an Academy Award, when he was named Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight.

0

Goals in its first six Premier League matches of 2017 for Leicester City, which fired manager Claudio Ranieri last Friday before beating Liverpool 3--1 on Monday.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

Average Time in Seconds Between Balls in Play

200

180

160

140

120

1946

1956

1966

1976

1986

1996

2006

2016