It's a lot like a child being forced to eat their vegetables by mom or dad.
The child may not want to eat green peas, for fear their taste might match the green color and odd smell. Then after taking a few bites, the child discovers peas aren't so bad.
York Revolution players and Manager Mark Mason have had similar reactions thus far since getting a taste of the new pace-of-play rules that Atlantic League umpires began enforcing last Friday in order to speed up games.
Two weeks ago, shortly after the league's board of directors approved a vote to implement six new pace-of-play rules, Mason and his players very much disagreed with the changes. However, they all spoke nonchalantly before Wednesday's game when asked what impact the rules have had on games since Friday.
"It hasn't really effected me," Revs' reliever Beau Vaughan said. "I got cut short on one warm-up pitch but that was about it. I still think they're a joke. But I haven't seen any impact."
Vaughan was referring to the new rule of warm-up pitches between innings being cut down from eight to six.
"The timeouts haven't been a big deal," Mason said, referring to the new rule limiting mound visits for each team, excluding pitching changes, to three a game. "If catchers are crossed up and they tell the umpire that they're crossed up with the pitcher, as long as they talk about signs, they (umpires) are not charging it (a mound visit). If it's strategy it counts. Or obviously if a coach or a manager goes out it's automatic."
There was one rule that was cut out from the original six: subbing a courtesy runner for the catcher if the catcher reaches base in his at-bat. The three remaining rules stayed put: limiting pitchers to 12 seconds between pitches when there are no runners on base, not allowing batters to step out of the batter's box if he didn't swing at the previous pitch and there are no runners on base and allowing for a team to intentionally walk a batter without throwing a pitch.
"We've intentionally walked one guy since Friday," Mason said. "And (Lancaster manager) Butch (Hobson) intentionally walked Eric (Patterson) last night after a 3-1 count."
In the press: The league appears to have met its goal so far in cutting down on the length of games. A total of 20 nine-inning games have been played in the Atlantic League from last Friday through Wednesday. Those were completed at an average clip of 2 hours, 44 minutes. That is down from 2:59, according to league officials.
SI.com's Tom Verducci and Vice.com's sports site each published articles online Tuesday focusing on the topic. National outlets such as USA Today and ESPN.com have also published articles in recent weeks on the pace-of-play rules. In Verducci's piece, he pointed out MLB is on record pace for the most 3½-hour games in a season and that he hopes MLB pays attention to how the Atlantic League is attempting to speed up games.
Faster or not?: Then again, it's hard to say if this is actually the case. Five of the 20 nine-inning Atlantic League games since Friday went more than three hours, but averaged 12 combined runs a game. The 15 remaining games completed in three hours or faster averaged 6.9 combined runs a game. So the faster games have had less runs. By the end of the season in September, with a larger sample size of games, the league should be able to determine if the pace-of-play rules are making a difference.
Plus, teams have yet to see umpires actually enforce penalties for not following the rules, such as giving a batter a strike for stepping out of the box or awarding a ball when a pitcher takes longer than 12 seconds to deliver the next pitch. Things could get rather ugly if that happens.
"These little tinkerings here and there, all it's gonna do is rub a lot of people the wrong way," Vaughan said.
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.