There’s a thing I’ve noticed about sports: When you change the rules, stuff happens.

So here we are, a week or so after baseball announced its three most tide-shifting rule changes in almost half a century — pitch clock, shift limits and bases the size of the tires on your Honda. And now here’s the safest prediction I’ve ever made:

Stuff … will … happen.

But what stuff? And how will — and won’t — it change the game? Here are 10 Things to Watch When the Rules Change.

 

1. The 2 1/2-hour game is back

Baseball has just fired its most accurate shot — aka., the 15-second pitch clock — in the War on Dead Time. And before it even lands, you should know this: That war is won.

“This thing is going to knock at least 20 minutes, I believe, off the time of a game in the big leagues.”  — Morgan Ensberg, former Astros third baseman, who now manages the Rays’ Double-A team, the Montgomery Biscuits

Guess what? There is zero reason to think he’s wrong. The average time of a minor-league game is down 26 minutes this year, compared with the olden days of the pre-pitch-clock era (by which we mean last year).

2021 — 3:04 (hours, minutes)
2022 — 2:38

Or you could just compare a typical day of baseball in Triple A (home to a 14-second pitch clock) versus the big leagues. This was from last Wednesday.

Yes, I’m aware the commercials mean the between-inning breaks aren’t the same in both leagues. Yes, next year’s big-league clock will be a second longer than this year’s Triple-A clock. Still …

• An 8-7 big-league game in Texas, featuring 20 hits, took 3 hours, 40 minutes.

• A 12-4 minor-league game in Nashville, featuring 24 hits, took 2 hours, 38 minutes.

I could give you 500 examples like this, but you get the idea. Watch any minor-league game on MiLB.com. You can’t miss the difference. The clock, Ensberg said, is “absolutely incredible. It’s given more time to the game versus just the fluff in between pitches. … What it does, it takes all the fluff out.”