Pitch Clock First Impressions: How It Will Be a Positive Change For Baseball
We are almost a week into Atlanta Braves spring training, and the biggest thing people have been talking about is the new pitch clock. For those who are out of the loop, the MLB will be implementing a pitch clock for the 2023 season and onwards. In short, there will be a 30-second timer in between batters, and between pitches, there will be a 15-second timer when the bases are empty and a 20-second timer when there are runners on base. Letting the timer run out will result in an automatic ball or strike for pitchers and batters respectively.
In the Braves' spring training opener, the game ended in a tie when Atlanta batter Cal Conley was unable to get set into the batter's box in time, resulting in an automatic strike three and a out. This play has been shared all over social media recently as it sets the tone for what players should get used to before the regular season officialy begins.
While this may be new territory for baseball, the changes here will be a drastic change for the sport as a whole, and in a way the will positively benefit baseball across all leagues.
In their initial annoucment of the pitch clock, the MLB mentioned the pitch clock was "an effort to create a quicker pace of play." While we are still in spring training, the results so far have been very noticable. In a couple of examples cited by Jeff Passan, the time of game for the Padres-Mariners when spring training began was two hours and 29 minutes. Additionally, the Rangers-Royals spring training game lasted two hours and 33 minutes.
For comparison, the average length of MLB games in 2022 was around 3.03 hours long. While the two games previously mentioned are small sample size, the effect that the pitch clock has had so far in spring training will radically change how baseball will be played moving forward.
Additionally, a faster-paced game of baseball will keep the fans that MLB wants to reel in. Let's be honest, unless you are a baseball junkie, there are a lot of people who don't want to sit in a stadium for more than three hours, especailly if its a slower paced game like baseball typically is compared to other sports. The addition of the pitch clock will speed up the pace to where it will keep wider audiences watching before they get bored and tune out. Even if it the time it shaves off isn't that much, it will still keep people's attention to the game wether they are at the stadium or watching it on television.
While there is still a lot to be seen with the new pitch clock, the changes that we have seen so far will drastically change the game of baseball for better.