Speeding the game - a meaningful approach by the SEC
With college baseball games getting longer every year and threatening the broader appeal of the sport, the SEC will experiment in their 2018 regular season with using a wireless communication system, connecting pitch calling coaches with their catchers wearing a new earpiece.
In 2012, the average College World Series game lasted 2 hours and 53 minutes. In 2017, CWS game times averaged 3 hours and 15 minutes.
While well intended, other initiatives to shorten game durations have largely failed. For example, the 20-second pitch clock simply addresses the wrong offender. More times than not its the batter who eats up time, stepping out of the box, often after every pitch, for one reason or another. All while the pitcher stands on the rubber ready to deliver.
This new approach could be significant.
With approximately 240 pitches per game, and assuming 5 seconds per pitch, upwards of 20 minutes over an entire game is wasted while the catcher stares into the dugout, then his wristband "decoder" before signaling the pitcher. Wireless communications would potentially reduce game durations in a meaningful way.
In addition, catchers can get back to a primary role in controlling the defense. They can now focus on being the defensive field general, scanning the entire field, assessing defensive positioning, base runners, the batters set up in the box, etc.
Unfortunately, at the same time the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel has approved an SEC request to expand their replay system, increasing the number of plays that are "reviewable". Undoubtedly more replays would ADD more time to the game.
But that's another topic for another time.....