Home MLB Ultra-Successful MLB Pitch Clock Facing Major Hurdle Ahead

Ultra-Successful MLB Pitch Clock Facing Major Hurdle Ahead

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Ultra-Successful MLB Pitch Clock Facing Major Hurdle Ahead

As the 2023 Major League Baseball season inches closer to the playoffs, the MLB Players Association is pushing for a relaxation of the pitch timer rule.

However, Commissioner Rob Manfred appears inclined to keep the current regulations in place.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark expressed the union’s position during a press conference on Tuesday. “I don’t think there are too many folks that want to have a new rule affect a game in a pennant chase or in the playoffs.. There are adjustments that can be beneficial.”

Shortly after Clark’s remarks, Commissioner Manfred was asked about the possibility of modifying the existing rules, which currently allow for 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when runners are on.

“In general, I think you ought to play the postseason the way you play the regular season,” Manfred responded. “We are comfortable the way the clock and the violations – particularly late in the game, in high-leverage situations – have been managed.”

Players are not proposing the elimination of the pitch clock entirely but rather seeking adjustments that would provide additional time, especially during critical moments in the game.

This may include adding seconds to the clock, approving extra timeouts or disengagements, or exploring other ideas that would allow players to “breathe,” as Clark emphasized.

“Considering you just played a 162-game season [with a pitch clock], nobody is looking to play 3½- to 4-hour games,” Clark explained. “I don’t think a few seconds here or there is going to create a 3½- to 4-hour game.”

League data indicates a decline in pitch clock violations throughout the season. However, Manfred acknowledges that it could still impact an important game in October.

“We don’t want a postseason game decided on a violation,” Manfred emphasized. “We haven’t had a game decided that way [so far]. I understand it’s a possibility.”

Both parties have expressed their intention to continue discussing the matter in the second half of the season. However, the players were not extensively involved in the initial decision regarding the current pitch clock times, leading Clark to express uncertainty about whether MLB will be receptive this time around.

“Something that we are concerned about moving forward has to do with the input players offer at the outset,” Clark stated. “They didn’t land in a fashion that we hoped, to try and smooth out some of the rough edges earlier.”

“The lines of communication are open; we’re glad that they are,” he continued. “We’re hopeful that despite some of the things not being included in the conversation initially, they may be considered down the stretch.”

Additionally, Commissioner Manfred reiterated a previous stance on the implementation of a challenge system for balls and strikes, suggesting it is more likely than a fully automated system.

However, it may not be introduced in the major leagues until 2024, as the league is still working on perfecting the necessary technology to ensure accurate calls.

The MLB is also actively exploring the development of a baseball with enhanced grip for pitchers. Ongoing experiments in the minor leagues aim to create a tacky ball that eliminates many of the variables present in the current process.

Commissioner Manfred mentioned the collaboration with Dow Chemical in this endeavor, stating that the proposed ball would come sealed in a foil pouch directly to the ballpark.

As the season progresses, MLB and the MLBPA will continue their discussions on these matters, aiming to strike a balance between maintaining the integrity of the game and addressing players’ concerns.

What are your thoughts on the pitch clock thus far?

It was a tough sell to baseball purists in the beginning – but there’s no denying it has sped up the pace of play dramatically.

However, does Clark and the MLBPA have a valid point about adjusting the clock for the ultra-important postseason?

 

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