January 27, 2015

MLB Considering Pitch Clocks & Shorter Commercial Breaks

I am against one and in favour of the other. (No points for guessing correctly!)

After what Bud Selig called a successful experiment in the 2014 Arizona Fall League, a pitch clock will be used during AA and AAA minor league games this season. Details, such as exactly how much time will be allowed between pitches, have yet to be announced.

AFL pitchers were required to throw within 12 seconds with no runners on base and within 20 seconds when a base was occupied. There was a maximum of 2:05 between innings and a 2:30 limit for a pitching change. Hitters had to keep at least one foot in the batter's box at all times.

Of course, there is already a rule in place to deal with slow-working pitchers, if MLB wishes to curb such behaviour. Note Rule 8.04:
When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”
Has any major league umpire ever enforced this rule?

Rob Neyer highlights an important difference in this debate:
What I would like to know is how many seconds are saved between pitches, because it's not the time of the games but rather the pace of the play that should, I think, legitimately concern the Lords of Baseball (which now includes the Players of Baseball).
Additional reading:
Grant Brisbee: Pitch clocks are (eventually) coming to baseball
Noah Jarosh: MLB's pitch clocks will ruin the game, unless they save it first (Roundtable discussion)
Jayson Stark reports that MLB is also looking into shortening the commercial time between innings! (my emphasis)
Under a new proposal by Major League Baseball, pitchers would be required to finish their warm-up pitches and be ready to make their first pitch of an inning 30 seconds before the end of all between-inning commercial breaks, sources told ESPN.com.

Similarly, hitters would have to be in the batter's box, ready to start their at-bats, 20 seconds before the end of each break.

Both proposals are designed to tighten the time between half-innings, which has grown, on average, to more than three minutes, even though regular-season commercial breaks during games that are not nationally televised are supposed to last just 2 minutes, 5 seconds.

Baseball officials believe that if play is ready to resume moments after each break ends, they could shorten games by 10 to 15 minutes. Just those efforts alone would bring the average game time to below three hours without enacting any other pace-of-game measures.


FenFan said...

Agree that the pitch clock is unnecessary and that shorter commercial breaks would be well received at least by me!

FenFan said...

I had to laugh at this comment from Stark's post: "Team officials have expressed concerns about having enough time to stage popular between-innings entertainment such as Kiss Cam."

...because we obviously didn't come to watch a baseball game, we came to watch random heterosexual couples make out while on camera. It's entertainment of the unwashed masses! *gag*

laura k said...

It's about time somebody wrote this! This post - and the idea - needs to be circulated. Everywhere.

The Omnipotent Q said...

I'm against any kind of clock in MLB. I've always thought that games would speed up if umpires were forced to call the high strike. Everyone would know it is a strike, and you'd see more guys swinging, and it would create quicker outs.

Benjamin said...

Rule 8.04's predecessor, Rule 33, was apparently enforced at least once nearly a century ago, on July 18, 1916.

Rule 33 § 2 read:
"The umpire shall call a ball on the pitcher each time he delays the game by failing to deliver the ball to the batsman for a longer period than 20 seconds, excepting that at the com­mencement of each inning, or when a pitcher relieves another, the pitcher may occupy one minute in delivering not to exceed five balls to the catcher or an infielder, during which time play shall be suspended."

The Chicago Tribune noted:
"For years it has been a dead letter and pitchers have been allowed with impunity to outrage the feelings of millions of faithful housewives by keeping husbands at ballparks while dinners grew cold. Yesterday Umpire Byron enforced it against Pitcher Jim Vaughn in the tenth inning of a drawn out combat. Tinker objected, and on being ordered off the field, refused to go, leaving the umpire no alternative than to award the game to Brooklyn, which he did."

So nearly a century ago, with perhaps this one exception, the rule had already been a dead letter "for years".

allan said...

And complaints about slow-moving pitcher or long games have been made for at least 100 years!

tim said...

So I have to ask the question...how many more pitches will NESN miss as a result of the shortened commercials if they already suck at it now with lengthy breaks?

A Seawolves Fanatic said...

Pitch clock sucks, all the effing commercials is the problem you old senile farts (MLB execs)!!