For starters, I have no problem with the MLB trying to trim the fat off a typical nine inning game. Everyone knows that there’s a ton of standing around, dead time between pitches, and sometimes an excessive amount of pitcher-catcher conferences. I, like everyone else this day and age, prefer to have most things happen at a quick rate, but for me baseball is a touchy feely subject in terms of clocks and limits. One of the most unique things about the game, at least too me, is that it’s the only major sport that isn’t bound by a clock. You decide when the game is over, not a horn or a buzzer. At the same time, I’d like to not have to devote three or four hours of my day or night watching a game; especially one that’s played during the most favorable months of the year.
For pacing purposes, the pitch clock is fine with me. Even in a game as mentally involved as baseball, 20-seconds is enough time to decide what you want to throw and deliver the pitch. Implementing a pitch clock to the MLB wouldn’t even be a new rule, but a revision to an old one. *Takes out rule book, slips on glasses, raises index finger in the air* MLB rule 8.04 states that a pitcher must deliver a pitch within 12-seconds or be charged with a ball. *closes rule book, folds glasses, slides them gently into shirt pocket* Of course, we never see umpires exercise this rule and probably never will because unlike 20-seconds, 12-seconds is pretty unfair. Especially when that the fastest starter in the league, Mark Buehrle, operated at a 17-second clip. For comparison, the slowest starter last season was Detroit Tigers lefty David Price, whose pitches came 26-seconds apart. While six seconds isn’t a huge chunk of time to knock off your delivery, relief pitcher’s pace could provide a speed bump for the pitch clock. Unlike starters, relievers habitually blow right past the 20-second neighborhood, and often find their delivers coming in 30-second intervals.
(Timing stats courtesy of Fangraphs.com)
Another rule that I am pretty on-board with is the “one foot in the batters box” rule. Wandering around home plate is a huge time waster, and not necessarily something that’s needs to be done. Like I said before, baseball is a mental game and thus requires a lot of thinking, so I’m fine with wanting to regain composure after getting a 90+ mile per hour ball hurled at you. — I mean, golfers step back to collect themselves all the time, and the ball is just sitting there. — But there’s no amount of thinking that you can do completely outside the box, that you can’t do with one foot in the box. Of course brush backs, swings and misses, and foul balls are all things that would require a batter to leave the confines of the 4’x6′ box, but a casual take by the hitter shouldn’t be met with meandering around the plate. With both the pitch clock rule and the “one foot” rule, the game could find a more consistent pace by keeping the players, as well as the fans, on a “schedule”.
- After striking out on past trades, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. knows that a big return must come from any potential trade of Cole Hamels. With four teams, including the Red Sox, said to be heavily interested in the left-handed starter, Amaro Jr. has reportedly set an astronomical price tag on the veteran ace. While Boston wouldn’t mind adding an ace to their starting staff, their comfort at the position allows them to let Hamels’ market become more reasonable; even if that means waiting until the non-waiver trade deadline. (Don’t count on Cole Hamels coming to Red Sox (yet))
- New Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis likes what he sees so far in Boston, but knows that expectations must be tamed until the bat starts meeting the ball. Davis, whose 19-year career spanned 5 different teams, admitted that he’s excited to work with Boston’s new additions like Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Davis also drew comparisons between Rusney Castillo and former Red Sox Yoenis Cespedes, whom Davis coached during his time in Oakland. (Chili Davis on talented, crowded Red Sox roster: “It’s going to be a fight”)
- In a little less than half a year, the Red Sox have transformed their line up into one one of the deepest in the league. Boston began their offensive rebuild during the July 31st traded deadline, acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, and Allen Craig. Along the way the team added Rusney Castillo and got a shot in the arm from rookie Mookie Betts. Boston continued to add bats into the offseason, inking Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to lucrative deals. While the new-look offense has yet to step in to the batters box, the Red Sox line-up is already topping offseason projections. (Red Sox lineup the best in baseball, per Buster Olney)
- In an effort to speed up the game, MLB owners agreed to implement a 20-second pitch clock for Double-A and Triple-A games this season. The pitch clocks, which were experimented with during the Arizona Fall League, will be stationed behind the plate as well as in the outfield so that everyone on the field will be able to see them. If a pitcher fails to deliver a pitch within the 20-seconds, the batter will be awarded a ball; even if it results in a walk. If the minor league implementation goes smoothly, we could see the pitch clock come to major league stadiums in the near future. (Sources: MLB owners, union negotiating pace-of-play game changes; Pitch clock coming to minors)
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