After years of growing accusations that the pace of baseball is slowing, MLB (Major League Baseball) commissioner Rob Manfred has issued a statement effectively implementing the so-called “pitch clock” that literally nobody but him wants. The pitch clock will be an actual timer that forces the pitcher to deliver a pitch every 20 seconds; currently, there is no limit on how long a pitcher can take between delivering pitches. This move is likely the first step in a string of future regulations designed to speed up the pace of the game.
After years of empty threats and unfulfilled promises, the public was shocked to learn he had actually done something. Manfred has been under fire for years (far before he took over the reins) regarding the pace of the game, which these days frequently exceeds 3 hours. “We are aware of the situation, and will continue working toward a solution round-the-clock,” he remarked after a grueling 6-hour, extra-inning game early last season.
Unwilling to shorten the length of commercial breaks, Manfred awarded his exclusive phone-in announcement to ESPN, who have managed to bring up the debate exactly twice since he took office in early 2015. In the announcement, Manfred explained, “We have worked tirelessly for years to develop this idea and believe it is in the best interest of the fans, the board of directors, and our advertisers.”
Met with widespread complacency from the general public, one sports fan quipped, “I didn’t know they still played baseball.” His subtle ignorance is a perfect example of why this issue is so serious for the baseball community.
For professional pitchers, on the other hand, the impact will be much more devastating. Gone are the days when pitchers could dilly-dally as long as they wanted up on the mound without consequence. “First they done told me I can’t use no steroids, now I gotta throw even faster?” said a pitcher who wished to remain anonymous. Roger Clemens continued, “This just ain’t baseball no more.”
Another pitcher, Chris Sale, simply said, “Wait, I thought they already had a pitch clock. I wish I would have known this before now.” Ironically, baseball does technically have a pitch clock, though it is evident it was never-ever enforced and serves more as a stopwatch than anything.
Not only do the changes affect the pitchers, but batters are equally concerned. When asked his opinion by reporters, Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers admitted he would not be able think fast enough to keep up with the pace of pitching. Turner complained, “I just don’t see how they can expect us to be ready every 20 seconds. I need at least a minute to walk all the way around the batter’s box after every pitch.”
After all the talk, the consensus seems clear: players do not want a pitch clock, though none of them seem willing to give up any aspect of the game. As it stands, baseball may be doomed to slip further and further into a progressive state of lengthening games. Until the league introduces a more widely accepted proposal (say, shortening the time between innings), the battle between Man(fred) and player will rage on.