New MLB commissioner Rob Manfred touted the changes as “an effort to streamline the pace of play.” Baseball has been looking to “streamline” for a while: In 2010, veteran umpire Joe West called the dawdling pace of nearly four-hour marathon between the Yankees and Red Sox a “disgrace to baseball”; a few weeks later, then-commissioner Bud Selig told the AP he wanted to address the issue.
Major-league games have been getting longer for years. In 1984, the average game wrapped up in about two-and-a-half hours. By 2014, that average was more than three hours. These longer games are partly of a result of record-high strikeout totals in recent years, and more strikeouts mean longer at-bats—and MLB can’t do much about that.
MLB has been demanding more patience from an audience that has less of it.