REPORT: MLB May Tweak the Pitch Clock Rules Before Opening Day (UPDATE: Changes Coming)
The discourse about the new MLB rules is far, far worse than the rules themselves (which, for me personally, have looked really good). So I’m kinda dreading this.
Rules is the word, but really, it’s all about the pitch clock:
In short, the competition committee met yesterday to consider whether any of the new rules – again, it’s all about the pitch clock – should be tweaked before Opening Day. No major overhauls are being considered, according to the report, but there have been requests from some players to make changes.
The biggest complaint is apparently not a rare, exceptional case where the rules are doing something funky. Instead, it’s a blanket one: there are complaints that 15 seconds is not enough time for the pitch clock with bases empty. With runners on base, the clock expands to 20 seconds (which is not mentioned as a complaint in the report).
Setting aside the fact that it’s just 14 seconds in the minor leagues and is proceeding without issue, I really don’t like the idea of starting to chip away at the timer, itself. We’ve now seen that, FOR THE VAST MAJORITY OF PITCHES, a 15-second timer is plenty. And that’s just within the first few weeks of guys having to pitch to this clock. Are you seriously going to try to tell me that professional athletes can’t adjust even further with several months of action?
The complaints about the batter needing to be alert to the pitcher by 8 seconds on the clock seem to ignore the extreme safety issue you’d face if pitchers could go ahead and pitch even when the batter isn’t looking. You think a guy getting a fake strike called on him is bad? Now think about all the times a pitcher sails one that the batter avoids because he is, you know, paying attention. That happens TONS of times throughout a game. I have no interest in seeing a batter get blasted by a pitch when he wasn’t even looking.
I could maybe be open to tweaking that number from 8 seconds to 7 seconds or whatever, but you cannot do away with that part of the rule entirely. It’s a safety issue.
If MLB opts to neuter the impact of its own new pitch clock rules because 0.1% of pitches look kinda awkward, I will be tremendously annoyed. I’m not saying they for sure got it perfect on the first try, but I can say – well, in my opinion – adding more leniency into the rule isn’t going to help it succeed in any way. All it does it make the rule less of a rule.
One exception. The mention in the report about allowing a little extra time for the first batter of the inning when he was, as a defensive player, involved in the final out of the previous half-inning? I can see some sensibility there.
I guess I can imagine a change or two that is fine/good. But I can just as easily imagine the changes simply making the new rules worse. After guys adjusted to them just fine (this is about one out of 300 pitches):