Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke on Pace of Play in Major League Baseball: ‘We Like Action, So Let’s Have More Action’

Heading into their first series of the season in Baltimore this week, the Red Sox have played some of the longest games in baseball.

As a matter of fact, the Sox have needed an average time of 3 hours and 22 minutes to complete a game this year, which according to Baseball Reference is the second-highest mark in all of baseball behind only the Houston Astros.

If you have not guessed so already, this is indeed a problem, so much so that Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke even addressed it in his weekly segment with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria on Thursday afternoon.

“I think they need to speed this up. I don’t like it,” Roenicke said of the pace of play in today’s game. “I don’t like a pitcher taking time, catching a ball, and taking forever to get back on the mound and throwing. I think your rhythm is way better and you make the hitter way more uncomfortable as soon as he gets back in the box and you’re ready to throw at him. So, I would like everything to be quickened up and I think they can do it.”

How might Major League Baseball quicken up the pace of play? Perhaps through the implementation of pitch clocks, which were used during 2019 spring training games but not the regular season. The same goes for the 2020 regular season as well, but they could be beneficial in the long run.

“If we have to bring in a clock to speed guys up, then bring in a clock,” Roenicke added. “I just don’t see any reason why this thing should be four hours a night. It makes no sense to me. … We like action, so let’s have more action going on out there.”

Red Sox President Sam Kennedy Admits Starting Majority of Home Games at 7:30 PM ‘Wasn’t Right Decision’

At 6-12, the Red Sox are off to a dreadful start this season and are on pace to finish the year with a 20-40 record. To make things worse for fans watching at home, the average time it has taken the Sox to complete a game this year has been 3 hours and 18 minutes, which according to Baseball Reference is the fourth-highest mark in Major League Baseball behind the Astros, Angels, and Pirates.

Lengthy games that have resulted in disappointing losses two-thirds of the time are one thing, but again, to add insult to injury, the majority of Red Sox home games this season have started at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. No other team in baseball is doing this, and some are even starting games earlier than they have in the past since attendance is not an issue for the time being.

I could go on about this issue, which you can read more about here,  but what I really found interesting was how Red Sox team president and CEO Sam Kennedy conceded on Wednesday that the late start times for night games at Fenway Park may not have been the best idea in hindsight. 

Appearing on WEEI’s Greg Hill Morning Show earlier Wednesday, Kennedy addressed the issue.

“We talk about scheduling issues each and every day,” he said. “The 7:30 experiment was designed to try and capture the largest television audience possible and given the way the team has played, given maybe the nature of the pandemic with people being home more, perhaps that wasn’t the right decision. We’ll see as we go forward here.”

When asked about moving games up in order to avoid playing at the same time as the Bruins or Celtics, Kennedy said, ” Because we play every day, it is really hard for us to adjust on the fly. We have done that in years past. But, sometimes you find yourselves in a situation like the Bruins yesterday when they were set to play late in the day and then they played at 11 o’clock in the morning given the overtime game.”

In his closing statement, Kennedy emphasized how fluid things have been in terms of scheduling since the 2020 MLB season began last month. While some teams like the Red Sox are closing in on 20 games played, other teams like the Cardinals have only played five due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their ranks.

“We’re literally in a day-to-day situation over here trying to work our way through what is a highly unusual season,” he stated. “Yes, we do talk about changes to the schedule and being flexible.”

If the Red Sox continue to fall out of contention as they are on pace to do, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for any schedule adjustments to be made, if there are any at all.