The Rundown: Wrigley Renovations Continue, Arizona Fall League to See Pace-of-Game Experiments

With last night being possibly one of the last days before Chicago fall weather kicks into high gear, I decided to take a walk around Wrigley Field and take in the progress of the renovations.

The first thing I noticed as I approached Clark and Addison was that the big 100-year banner above the marquee sign had been removed. The entire front area around the main gate was fenced off. I found it funny how used to that banner I had become, and how different the face of the park looked.

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I walked down Clark and saw the spot where the Ernie Banks statue used to stand. The Banks statue, along with the Harry Caray statue, were transported out early Wednesday morning. They will be stored at temporary locations while the renovations are being completed, and should be back by Opening Day 2015, according to

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Fences closed off Waveland and Sheffield around the bleachers. It was an odd feeling not being able to walk alongside the park, as I normally do.

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I had already read about the Wrigley renovation starting, so I knew it was happening, but walking around the park yesterday really made it hit home. It’s going to be weird (but good) to have a newer-looking park next season.

Pace-of-game experiment

During the Arizona Fall League, MLB will be testing out some initiatives intended to help quicken the pace of games.

This announcement comes on the heels of the creation of a Pace of Game Committee back on Sept. 22.

The ideas include:

* Batters will need to keep one foot inside the batter’s box during an at-bat, with exceptions for granted time-outs, foul balls and wild pitches. (So seems like batters can still step out quite a bit.)

* Intentional walks will be signaled by the manager, and the batter will take first base without having to watch four intentional balls go by. This measure makes sense to me.

* The time between innings will be a maximum of two minutes and five seconds.

* Pitching changes will be a maximum of two minutes and 30 seconds.

* Each team will have three “timeout” conferences for meetings on the mound with pitchers, catchers and coaches.

* One of the AFL ballparks will contain a pitch clock, allowing pitchers 20 seconds in between pitches.

I’m not really in the “GAMES NEED TO BE SHORTER” camp, but some of these initiatives seem like good ones to me. I don’t think we’ll ever see a pitch clock in MLB. But I suppose time will tell.

It’s unclear how soon any initiatives would make their way to big-league games (if ever). The Arizona Fall League begins Oct. 7.

Other notes

* The NL Wilcard game seriously lagged behind the AL game in the excitement department. Yet another Brandon — Crawford, this time — hit a big home run, when he hit the first-ever playoff grand slam by a shortstop. It gave the Giants a 4-0 lead over Edinson Volquez and the Pirates, and they never looked back. Starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner dominated the Buccos, pitching a four-hit shutout in the 8-0 win.

* Fox Sports 1 will be broadcasting Game 1 of the NLCS as “powered by JABO,” according to Rob Neyer. The broadcast will focus on statistics and graphics, featuring a split screen of the live game and studio analysts.

This could be an interesting development and provide a nice alternative to being forced to watch the traditional Fox broadcast, with Joe Buck and Harold Reynolds (gladly pass). Game 1 of the NLCS is scheduled for Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. Central.

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