It looks like MLB has really decided to dig their heels in on this one, as they are going to push forward with instituting a shot clock, err I mean pitch clock, whether anyone wants them or not. (Emphasis Mine)
The reports indicate that a variety of pacing measures will go into effect in 2018, with a 20-second pitch clock perhaps the most visible and notable among them. Pitch clocks aren’t exactly new, as MLB has been experimenting with their use in the minor leagues by way of a 22-second pitch clock. If it does go into effect as the reports suggest, the rule would charge pitchers with a ball if they take more than 20 seconds between pitches (after one warning per game). Hitters, meanwhile, would be required to adhere to a 30-second timer between batters; after a warning (one per game), they would presumably be charged with a strike. Another set of rules would provide that a second mound visit to a given pitcher in the same inning must result in his removal from the game. In addition, future efforts would control the amount of time between innings and the number and length of pitching warm-ups, though that does not appear to be on the docket for the upcoming season.
As you may imagine, players are….less than thrilled about the proposed changes. They are even less than thrilled that management has apparently decided to proceed without their approval.
Indeed, one player involved in the negotiations tells Rosenthal that he’s never seen players so unified against an issue. Both Rosenthal and Crasnick suggest that the players feel pace of play can be enhanced by making improvements to the instant replay system and more closely monitoring down time between innings — neither of which would require a clock that would limit them on the field. The sentiment appears to be the exact opposite among MLB owners, as Rosenthal reports that they’re “strongly in favor” of the pace-of-play initiatives that the commissioner’s office is pursuing.
The proposed changes will shorten the typical game by approximately 10 mins each, however Yankee and Red Sox games may be shortened to just shy of 15 hours.
While personally, I’m not in favor of a shot clock, I do think both pitchers and batters take way to damn long between pitches. I shouldn’t be able to get up for a bathroom break, make a ham sandwich, put a kid through college, and learn three foreign languages between the time it takes Pedro Baez to decide to throw the exact same pitch in the exact same location as the three before it.
The 20 second limit would make quite a change to the game. According to Bleacher Report, the Average Time Between Pitches for 2017 was 23.8 seconds. That’s nearly 4 seconds per pitch of us standing around watching nothing.
Of course another problem in MLB, and it gets worse the closer we get to the off-season is the number of pitching changes that most managers will go through. We can speed up pitchers delivery’s all we want, but if a pitcher can warm up, walk to the mound, warm up again, throw two pitches, then watch as the manager walks to the mound, only to replace him for the next batter (and the three after that), we won’t be seeing much of an improvement. Why aren’t pitchers forced to face a minimum number of batters?
Secondly, with the addition of instant replay, it now takes a significant amount of time every time we challenge a play, for the manager to come out, the umpires to gather and talk, then slowly walk to the back of the field where an attendant gives them a headset as we all sit around and watch New York screw up yet another replay call. Why hasn’t MLB learned from the NFL how to handle a replay yet? Have a specific umpire on the damn premises watching every play, preparing for a potential replay, so that way when a challenge is issued, they can simply buzz down and say “yea, the guy actually was tagged out.” It shouldn’t take any more than 30 seconds.
And finally, MLB really needs to enforce the rule that a batter cannot step out of the box unless they make contact with the ball, and must remain at the ready when in the box. A swing and a miss should not be an exemption. Get in there and fucking play ball. Slow pitchers are not the only problem here.
And while we are at it, why don’t we shave a commercial or two off of each inning. That’ll shave quite a bit of time off the pace-of-play!
So while everyone seems to agree that changes need to be made, there’s a lot of dispute as to how and where those changes need to be made. It seems from a little bit of everywhere, and while I’m not particularly a fan of watching a clock tick down, (and most importantly I’m not excited for the moment where a game is won on a ball 4 call because the clock hit zero before the pitch, and we have to instant review that shit), if that’s what it takes to get players to speed the hell up, I’m game at this point. Maybe I’m just getting too damn old, but I can’t deal with games that end past 10:30 anymore. I have a life and I have a job and I just can’t do the 4 and a half hour affairs anymore.