A new rule designed to speed up gameplay in Major League Baseball made its presence felt in a big way during the Atlanta Braves vs. Boston Red Sox game on Saturday.
The early exhibition match-up ended in a 6-6 tie when Atlanta’s final batter, Cal Conley, was called out for not being set in the box when the pitch clock expired. The game was knotted up in the bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded, and a 3-2 count.
Red Sox relief pitcher Robert Kwiatkowski was set to throw a pitch when Conley was charged an automatic strike for not being ready to go. Under the new rules, the strikeout was called.
In Spring Training, there are no extra innings. So, the game ended right there… in a 6-6 tie.
MLB’s new mechanical timing system determines that there be 30 seconds to resume play between batters. Pitchers have 15 seconds with nobody on and 20 seconds if there is a baserunner to make a move. Hitters are required to be in the batter’s box and alert with at least eight seconds remaining on the pitch clock.
Thus far, the new system has garnered some success. The average length of games has been lowered but in a small sample size. However, last year in the minor leagues, the pitch clock helped reduce the average length of a game by about 25 minutes.
While the new system appears to be meeting its goal of increasing the pace of games, it still hasn’t been fully grasped by some MLB veterans
“I like (the pitch clock),” MLB Tonight analyst Dan Plesac said following the game. “Getting a chance to watch the last couple days of games… the pace of the game? It just moves faster. It really does.”
“I think it’s going to take some getting used to for veteran players to get used to it… I think once players get used to saying, okay, I gotta get ready; I gotta get in that box, eight seconds left, be ready to hit, eyes on that pitcher. It won’t happen again like it did today,” he predicted.
Despite the Braves-Red Sox situation, most analysts seem to agree that the pitch clock will have long-term benefits for Major League Baseball.
Former NFL quarterback and current sports talk show host Boomer Esiason follows that theory. During his show on WFAN Radio in New York, the former Cincinnati Bengals QB told co-host Gregg Giannotti that he thinks it will help make MLB games more enjoyable to watch.
“There is no question watching games over the weekend, that it is going to have a profound effect on us watching the game because it is, it is moving at a pretty fast pace and that’s what it needs to be,” Boomer said.
“That’s what it needs to be; baseball needed to adjust and it did, this is finally something that really, really changes things. And the pace of play is a big issue,” Gio responded. “I mean, I’m not someone who is Gen-Z, 18 years old who really has a terrible attention span, but I’m 40 and I’ve got a pretty bad attention span – and it’s getting worse because of the world we live in, and stuff like this is more appealing to me when it’s faster.”
What do you make of the pitch clock and its effect on MLB?