about that pitch clock

We have baseball! Terry and I are both happy about that. Spring training games began this past weekend, and that is a Good Thing.

The game looks noticeably different this year, or so it seems at first glance. I wrote about the rule changes for 2023, but the most obvious is the pitch clock. There is now a thirty-second timer between batters and a fifteen-second timer between pitches, or twenty seconds if runners are on base. If a pitcher does not start his motion within that time the batter gets an automatic ball called. The batter must be in the box and alert to the pitcher at the eight second mark or the umpire calls a strike against him.

The Dodgers played their first exhibition game on the road Saturday against the Brewers. Due to the setup at the Brewers stadium they couldn’t show the pitch clock as part of the data on the screen. But back home at Camelback Ranch on Sunday the pitch clock was ubiquitous.

baseball pitch clockDoes the pitch clock speed up the game? Apparently so. Saturday’s Dodger game came in at two hours and twenty-one minutes. On Sunday, when the Dodgers had eleven walks the game was just under three hours. Sunday’s Angels game was over in two hours and thirty-six minutes. In the past it was rare for a game to run less than three hours.

Certainly the players need to get used to the new system. In Sunday’s Dodger game there were two pitch clock violations early in the game: one by a hitter, the other by a pitcher. Things settled down after that. But the weird event was in Saturday’s Atlanta-Boston game. It was the bottom of the ninth, there were two outs and a full count. The batter was called on a pitch clock violation, which meant an automatic strike and the end of the game.

As Dodger color commentator Rick Monday kept pointing out during Sunday’s game, baseball has always changed and evolved. He described how the strike zone has changed drastically. It is much smaller today than it was fifty years ago.

It will probably take the entire season to determine whether the pitch clock is taking things just a little too far. Right now I’m undecided.

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