Since succeeding Bud Selig as MLB commissioner in 2014, Rob Manfred has explored many ways to shorten game times. Among them is the incorporation of a pitch clock, which has been exclusive to Minor League Baseball and the Arizona Fall League in recent seasons.
The pitch clock has returned to the Minors this year with a few tweaks. Pitchers now have 14 seconds to deliver a pitch with the bases empty and 18 seconds with at least one runner on.
The results so far have been staggering, as through the first 132 Minor League Baseball games that included a pitch clock, the average game time was 2 hours, 39 minutes. That’s down 20 minutes from the previous week without a timer.
While old-school baseball fans are against the idea of a pitch clock, Angels manager Joe Maddon believes it eventually will be a great addition to MLB games, via Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group:
“I’m a purist,” Maddon said. “I love this game. I’d rather watch this game than any other game. However, when it drags to the point where it becomes interminable, it’s no more fun. It’s no fun.”
Maddon admitted that he gets frustrated when pitchers work slowly and thinks a pitch clock will improve the game pace:
“We all feel that,” Maddon said. “A lot of times a player won’t say anything to his pitcher. He doesn’t want to get in his head or take him out of his patterns. But something forced will make you do that. I think everybody’s going to benefit.”
Maddon, who has been involved in baseball for nearly five decades, typically rejects most new rule changes, but clearly is on board with the implementation of a pitch clock.
While a pitch clock will likely take some time to get used to for some players, coaches and fans, there’s no question that it is helping achieve Manfred’s goal of dramatically speeding up the pace in games.
When will pitch clock come to MLB?
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA), Manfred has the authority to unilaterally implement new rules with a 45-day advance notice.
Thus, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that a pitch clock will be added to MLB games as soon as the 2023 season.
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