Every five years, the Players Union and MLB get together to negotiate and update the Collective Bargaining Agreement, effectively wielding the power to change the on and off-field rules of the game.
But in the time between those five years, the game and its many rules are not untouchable.
As a matter of fact, under the current CBA, as long as the Commissioner gives the players’ union a one-year head’s up, he can make unilateral changes to some of the rules of baseball. In fact, that’s probably why some of the more anticipated/heavily-rumored changes didn’t make it into the most recent version of the CBA (which was renegotiated last winter) – he can just push it off a bit, and implement them himself.
Among one of those heavily-rumored rule/gameplay changes is the creation of a pitch clock – a mechanism by which umpires can keep the game moving along, with the side benefit of potentially improved offensive performance. Two birds, one stone.
I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this by now, but in case I’m not being clear: The pitch clock is coming, and baseball is preparing. You can read more about the impending and literally game-changing potential new rule here at The Athletic.
Fortunately, the league isn’t exactly ramming this change down the throat of the players’ union. As a matter of fact, Ken Rosenthal reports that a recent meeting between representatives from the Commissioner’s office, the players’ union, and members of two teams (Nationals and Marlins), resulted in a better understanding as to why the Commissioner wants to make this change (pace-of-play, among other reasons) and an open-minded dialogue has been re-established.
The details are FAR from certain at this point, but it sounds like the clock – which, by the way, has been active and working in the Minor Leagues for a while now – is coming, and the players have decided that they would rather have a hand in its creation rather than sit on the sidelines in protest.