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The Roar



Why the pitch clock deserves a chance in the MLB

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Roar Rookie
27th February, 2023

Sports are always evolving, including teams, rules, players et cetera. It always has and always will. That also includes a sport as steeped in tradition as baseball.

Major League Baseball is seeing numerous changes in 2023, from bigger bases to the banning of the shift and, most prominently, the addition of a pitch clock.

I get it, there are some who don’t like the idea and want to keep baseball an untimed sport. An element of gameplay being timed is one of the final frontiers for the sport. Putting the sport on the clock is a drastic change, albeit having already been implemented in the minor leagues.

For those who don’t fully understand how it will work, when there are no runners on base, a pitcher will have only 15 seconds to throw a pitch. When a runner is on base he’ll have 20 seconds. If they fail to throw a pitch before time runs out, an automatic ball will be called. The clock will also impact batters if they don’t speed things up. Hitters will have to be inside the batters box and ready to go with eight seconds left on the clock. If they aren’t? That’s an automatic strike.

Nick Martinez of the San Diego Padres pitches

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

We got our first taste of it during the Seattle Mariners-San Diego Padres spring training game on Friday where San Diego’s Manny Machado was called for an automatic strike for not being ready in the batters box. Of course Twitter was buzzing about it – some were in favour of the game forcing players to speed up the action and thus limiting the stalling between pitches but many felt that the pitchers and hitters were now being rushed. But players and managers have said it will take some getting used to and fans will eventually get used to the changes.

In 2022 the pitch clock helped cut down on the length of games in the minor leagues – depending on the level, the clock time varied between 14 and 18 seconds – down to an average of two hours and 38 minutes. In 2021 game length was averaging more than three hours.


There will be growing pains. Players will forget how much time is left and some will feel rushed and maybe forget there is a clock at all. That is to be expected. Similar concerns came up when the NBA first tested via scrimmages a much-needed shot clock before its implementation for the 1954-55 season. Basketball needed a way to counteract slow play and stalling, which were hurting fan interest in the sport. The impact of the clock, along with rules to limit fouling, aided more scoring, and the points-per-game average for each team went up from 79 to 93 between the 1953-54 and 1954-55 seasons. By 1957-58 teams averaged 107 points per game. The idea of not having a shot clock now seems absurd at the professional level of the sport.

In a league where teams play 162 games in the regular season and could possibly be playing four or five games in a row during the schedule, why not introduce a way to get things moving a little faster to avoid lengthy games with another game looming in potentially less than 24 hours to not only help the players have more time to get ready and rest for the next game but also help some fans stay more engaged? Sure, there are fans who will love a Yankees-Red Sox game that has the potential to go four hours or more without a clock, but not everyone is able to stay engaged in games that long.

All sports have to evolve or be left behind in a world with so many entertainment options. As much as people like to scream that baseball should stick to tradition, the sport is littered with rule changes going back over 150 years.

Baseball has changed the dimensions of the pitchers mound in various ways, modified the maximum number of strikes and walks per at-bat, introduced the designated hitter to both the American and national leagues and created a way for catchers to tell pitchers what pitches to throw via electronic devices. Granted, it might have been slower than other leagues, but MLB games of 2023 do not look or play the same as MLB games from 1923, 1953 or 1983, and that is for the better.

The sport will continue to change and add or subtract rules depending on what works or not. Attempting something new is better than not doing anything for a sport that has to keep up with the likes of basketball, soccer and others for relevance.