These changes have, so far, yielded promising results on the field. Game durations are now on par with those from the 1980s, harking back to the days of brisk, action-packed matches, with the average game length shrinking to 2 hours and 41 minutes, down from the over 3+ hour affairs of the previous season. The risky practice of "base stealing" has surged, whether due to batters feeling emboldened, or the time constraints making risk-taking more appealing — either way, the games seem more unpredictable for viewers.
Old dog new tricks
On a commercial level, the changes seem to be working as well. The league’s average attendance per game has risen, up 9% on last year, and many fans — and even most players — seem happy with the rule changes. Although, one noticeable casualty of the changes has been beer sales. Shorter games and more action on the field means less time for fans to indulge in a cold one. But, by April of this year, four teams had already extended alcohol sales through the eighth inning to counter the time crunch.
With stiff competition from basketball, football, and increasingly soccer — thanks to the star signings of players like Lionel Messi — baseball may never regain its spot as America’s favorite sport to watch. But, with the professional side of the game embracing change, America’s pastime looks far from past its time.