TAMPA, Fla. — What do Dua Lipa, Bill Maher, and MLB all have in common? They all have new rules. There has been much talk this spring about the rule changes, specifically the pitch clock.
Initially, I was not a huge fan of having a clock in baseball. It’s the only team sport where you can’t run out the clock by stalling or taking a knee. With all of the chaos going on in the world, sometimes one wants to escape for three to four hours. Yet if one looks at all of the potential positive outcomes, there’s not a lot to dislike unless perhaps you’re a beer vendor or have a weak bladder.
From a New York Yankees perspective, Aaron Judge and Wandy Peralta already seem to be enjoying it the most.
Yankees pitcher Wandy Peralta is using the new pitch clock to his advantage.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, here are the results thus far with the pitch clock, bigger bases, and no shift:
Compared to last spring training, the average time of the game has decreased from 3:01 to 2:36. Runs per game have increased from 10.6 to 11. Stolen base attempts per game have jumped from 1.6 to 2.4. BABIP on ground balls has risen from .235 to .258. Plus, the strikeout rate has dropped from 23.9% to 23.1%.
What does it all mean?
We’re getting down to business. As a fan, you’re gaining back time for your night and perhaps your weekend. Kids might be able to view more endings of games. West Coast games might end before midnight. You’re not boredom/doom scrolling on Twitter between pitches. All wins.
Plus, if game times are reduced drastically, maybe MLB revisits the automatic runner rule in extra innings or moves it to for instance the thirteenth inning.
For those not familiar yet, the pitcher has 15 seconds (20 with a runner on base) from the time he receives the ball back from the catcher, to pitch. The hitter gets one timeout and must be ready at the eight-second mark. The pitcher can only make two pickoff attempts and has to pick off the runner if he throws to the base a third time.
One tweak I’d make to the pitch clock is the need for the hitter to be attentive to the pitcher at the eight-second mark. It should be no different than if the umpire doesn’t grant the batter a timeout and the pitcher throws the ball and it’s on you. Let it be on the hitter, not the umpire dictating if the hitter is ready or not.
For player safety, this is a plus. You’re also allowing more room for would-be base stealers. Along with timing pitchers on the pitch clock, the bigger bases make runners more apt to take risks. Plus, you’re likely eliminating many replays for runners falling off the bag for a nanosecond and being tagged out.
Should hitters learn to hit to all fields and make adjustments? Yes. Is it nice to see every ball pulled to right or hit up the middle die in the glove of a fielder? Also, yes. I’ll take home runs all day and night but it is much better to have more opportunities for run creation and having the ball put in play and actually reach the outfield. In addition, you’re placing more emphasis on athleticism from your fielders.
AUTOMATIC RUNNER RULE IN EXTRA INNINGS
This is the only rule I have major qualms about. It’s not baseball, it’s softball. If you want gimmicks, have a home run derby to end the game. As I mentioned above, shorter nine-inning games should virtually eliminate the need for this rule, if not moving the rule to say the thirteenth inning or thereabouts. It’s cheap. There should almost be a deduction from winning in extras with this rule like there is in the NHL with the shootout point.