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.
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.
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.
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