It was announced yesterday that the MLB is looking into clarifying the new rule changes starting this 2023 season. Before everyone starts telling their friends that the MLB is already backtracking on their new modifications, specifically the pitch clock, it isn’t going to be that serious. These minor alterations involve the pitch clock, but it is still here to stay.
According to the MLB commissioner, following a rules committee meeting, Rob Manfred stated these specific pitch clock clarifications as a possible implementation going forward.
- Pitchers will be informed that no warmup pitches will be permitted with less than 30 seconds left on the clock in between innings.
- Baserunners, who are running on a pitch, will be given time by the umpires to get back on foul balls.
- Hitters also will be given time to be set in the batter’s box, with at least eight seconds left on the pitch clock, preventing quick pitches.
After reading these proposed changes, none are as important as you might think when you first read headlines. However, on the bright side, it’s nice that Manfred is paying attention to players’ opinions and making changes now rather than in the middle of the regular season. Manfred has been infamous for ignoring player opinions, but it appears as though he’s…changed?
After watching the pitch clock in action this Spring Training, it became super apparent that pitchers were flying through their pre-pitch rituals and essentially quick pitching, giving hitters very little time to get set in the box and prepared for the pitch. That makes the third rule listed the most important one and probably the clearest change compared to Spring Training games. The fact is that both the pitcher and the batter have to make equal adjustments to the clock, but that shouldn’t leave either side at a disadvantage, and quick pitching puts hitters at a huge disadvantage.
Based on certain fans’ opinions, they would like to see more significant customizations to the pitch clock as opposed to these minor tweaks. Some fans wish for concepts such as eliminating the clock during the postseason, so games aren’t decided on a clock and we won’t have anything similar to the Braves-Red Sox ending on the first day of Spring Training. This idea is somewhat irrational because there is reason to believe players will be so accustomed to the pitch clock by October that violations should not occur as much as they have been this March. Significant changes like this would be unnecessary, at least at this point, because no one knows what the future will look like with the clock. Based on Spring Training game times, the median game times have dropped over 30 minutes, a huge difference that can help viewership and fan attendance.
It is impossible to assume that every fan will agree with the rule change and how it works. However, the league possibly making these adjustments early on is helping the efficiency and should keep fans and players hopeful that fairness will coexist with the rules. There will definitely be an argument for leaving the rules as they are to see how it’ll work in the regular season versus getting in front of the problems early and making the changes before they start causing severe issues.