Column: MLB Pitch Clock


File:Pitch clock! (16998109219) / Minda Haas / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

At the beginning of the MLB season, a new rule called the Pitch Clock was implemented. This changed from pitchers having no timer to having only 30 seconds to throw a pitch. The rule has been a controversial addition to the game despite shortening the lengths of games by 10 to 30 minutes.

Baseball games are, I think we can all agree, far too long. But what can we actually do about it? 

Although defensive shifts are no longer permitted and the bases have been somewhat lengthened, that is not the most significant change to Major League Baseball. 

Incorporating a pitch clock has been implemented by the league. This will give pitchers 15 seconds between pitches, and 20 seconds if a runner is on base. If they don’t succeed, the umpire will charge them with a ball. Additionally, pitchers are only allowed to make two “disengagements” per plate appearance (such as stepping off the rubber or throwing to a base). Hitters are charged with a strike if they are not in the box and they can call time only once per plate appearance. 

“From a fan perspective, I can say that the MLB games are very long,” junior Cooper Smith said. “The games and season are so lengthy, many people I know, including myself, don’t even watch the regular season games. However, the atmosphere and duration of the game are fun when you are actually at a game.”

Fans who have never played the game often have a difficult time understanding what goes on at the mound. 

“On the mound, it’s more of a mental game, than a physical one as a pitcher,” senior Izak Mock said. “Even though I am only a high school pitcher, I am aware of the game’s pace and can see how the new pitch clock rule can make pitchers feel sped up. The tempo of the game could make players’ arms more worn out, which would make teams’ bullpens even worse.”

In 2021, the average length of an MLB game reached a record-high level of three hours and 11 minutes. It took three hours and six minutes the previous year. Games have been 20 minutes shorter on average so far this spring with the pitch clock implemented. 

“Despite the fact that 20 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, it helps fans like myself watch more games given my busy schedule,” Smith said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to watch the seventh inning stretch or the ending due to how long it took to get to that point of the game.” 

Fans and former players say that the new pitch clock rule has reminded them of the baseball of their youth. 

“On the mound, there is no more playing around,” senior Rylan Campbell said. “No more entering and exiting the box to alter the body armor and gloves. No more relief pitchers pacing around in the later innings, whether the score was 3-2 or 15-0, treating each pitch the same. Only the number of innings and the cost of concession meals have changed since the youth league. If only a foul ball was still worth a free soda.”

How the pitch clock will be used at the conclusion of a game is the only unanswered question. 

“I think everyone would agree that they do not want to see a game end on a strikeout called because a batter was not in the batter’s box at the right time,” Campbell said. “Especially if it’s a World Series game, or even a thrilling regular season game that comes down to the last out.

The pitch clock is advantageous to fans of all ages, even though baseball does need to draw in a younger audience. Nobody should have to wait an eternity for a pitch to be made. The pitch clock will make the sport immensely more entertaining and is a game-changer.