Make Up Some Lost Time By Showing Up For Batting Practice

Today, one of our authors recommends that fans concerned about shorter game times this season should consider showing up to take in battingPhoto byCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

By Mark Kolier

Everything, everywhere, all at once is the theme of the 2023 Major League Baseball Season. Simultaneous changes regarding the infield shift, limits on pitcher disengagements with the rubber, larger bases, and a pitch clock will make it hard to determine which had the biggest impact. Perhaps it really doesn’t even matter as long as the overall game gets better. The results will not be clear until after the 2023 season is over and it may take longer than that. 

Already there have been some who have groused ‘why do we need a shorter game?’ 

These are the same fans that cannot understand the runner starting on second base in extra innings. They are traditionalists and fans through and through. The problem is there are not enough of them to sustain MLB’s popularity on their own.

Some of these fans would like baseball to go back to the 1970s or prior when ‘the game was pure and played the right way.’  I will leave it to readers to determine what that means to them. There is not much Rob Manfred or anyone associated with MLB can do to please these fans. And that is unfortunate as you never want to alienate fans that love and support the game of baseball. But the MLB powers that be are keenly aware that they cannot please every level of baseball fan. 

When Jerry Seinfeld got started as a stand-up comic I was fortunate enough to see him perform on stage in Boston. Yes, he was amazing, and I still remember the routine. One of his jokes I still remember went something like this: I can’t compete with my dad’s stories. Dad would say ‘When I was your age a car was a quarter, and a house was a dollar!’ OK, you win Dad I can’t top that. While it’s romantic to think about what it was like watching a Sandy Koufax-Warren Spahn pitcher’s duel, baseball has continually evolved, and we expect that there will be few examples (aside from Sandy Alcantara of course) of 9-inning pitchers this coming season. 

Games will take less time that’s for sure. With shorter games, MLB will have to find new and hopefully creative ways to insert advertising differently given the shorter overall game times. I am more certain of the former than the latter. 

Then there are fans who lament that they are getting shafted in paying the same or more, for a shorter game. Here’s my suggestion to them. Why not show up early for team batting practice? Do you want less traffic on the way to the game? Be there for batting practice. Do you want to watch ‘ball-go-far’ and lots of the sound of bats hitting balls? The sound of a wooden bat hitting a baseball is music to the ears of almost all baseball fans! Get to the game an hour early and watch both teams take batting practice.

And it’s interesting that as much as things have changed in baseball batting practice is very similar to the way it has always been. MLB players practicing hitting in the indoor batting cage next to or underneath the clubhouse is valuable and MLBers do that all the time - even during games. But there are reasons players still want to take their hacks before playing a game actually on the field.

One reason is that there’s nothing that prepares a player like being there in that moment, in the batter’s box, looking at the field and immediately seeing the actual result of a swing. It also feels different and cannot be recreated – at least not easily right now. VR technology will be able to come close sooner than we might imagine! 

For the fans, batting practice can be a real treat. A word of caution: if you’re taking a young or brand-new new fan to the game and you want them to love baseball as much as you do, you might wait until closer to game time to avoid the ‘When are we going home?’ type of questions from happening in the 2nd inning. Batting practice is methodical, yet relaxed and often fun. Watching MLB players shag balls during batting practice is also interesting and it’s fun to watch your team prepare to play a Major League Baseball game. 

If you do go early to the game to watch batting practice, you probably won’t mind at all that the game will be over earlier so you can get home sooner. Fans young and old not having to stay up until 10 PM to watch games night after night is also nothing to complain about. 

About the Author: Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown.’ He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on and now

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