Reports out of Major League Baseball’s annual owners meetings are indicating that the owners are taking steps toward the implementation of a pitch clock at the MLB level. While there is no indication that the pitch clock will be used in the bigs in 2015, it is being reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports that Double-A and Triple-A games will feature a 20-second pitch clock with the goal of accelerating the pace of play of America’s Pastime.
The idea certainly has its merits, and accelerating the pace of play of games that often take longer than four hours to complete is a reasonable goal. Using a pitch clock to do so, however, is a poor solution for fixing a problem that may not really be all that much of a problem to begin with. The main rationale behind improving pace of play is to ensure that the next generation of baseball fans – who, as asserted by far too many sources to mention, have little to no attention spans -- are attracted to the game. In that regard, baseball could do a much better job using social media and fan interaction to promote the game, as it has lagged far behind the other major sports in this type of engagement.
While baseball may be nonetheless right to pursue pace of play changes, there are a number of reasons why MLB should abandon the idea of using a pitch clock in an attempt to do so. The pitch clock may simply be an eventuality that everyone just has to accept, but that does not mean it is a good idea. What follows are 10 reasons why the pitch clock is simply a terrible idea for MLB.
10 Negligible Impact on Time of the Game
9 Too Many Loopholes Exist
8 Potentially Adverse Effect on In-Game Strategy
7 Limiting the Drama of High-Leverage Situations
6 Pace of Play Is Affected More by Increasingly Specialized Relievers
5 Penalty for Exceeding the Pitch Clock Limit Is Disproportionate
4 Baseball’s Downtime Makes for a Unique Opportunity for Shared Experience
3 Hitters Are Increasingly Patient in the Batter’s Box
2 Time Limits Could Increase Pitcher Fatigue and Durability
1 Rushing Players Reduces the Quality of Play
Spectators at any sporting event want to see athletes performing at the peak of their ability, and it could very well be the case that the pitch clock limits the quality of play. Fans can expect more pitches to be rushed in order to avoid a pitch-clock penalty, and there would be less opportunity for all of the strategy that makes baseball great. In basketball, a shot clock that is winding down often results in a contested shot that misses wildly, an outcome that fans appreciate because the effort of the defense plays a major role in forcing a bad shot. In baseball that would not be the case, and the ball awarded to the batter would feel empty and arbitrary. Fans want to see the best that baseball has to offer, and a pitch clock could adversely affect the quality of the game that fans ultimately see.
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