Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani standing next to MLB’s pitch clock (Photo: Scott Strazzante/San Francisco Chronicle)

Baseball Pitch Clock Not Improving Games

Major League Baseball has added a new “pitch clock” into games. The goal is to shorten the games so they don’t drag on for three and a half plus hours. But as usual with anything new, some problems have come up. Batters are getting “unfairly” called for strikes, pitchers are getting too much power, and it’s resulting in just less baseball.

It has only been about a week since the pitch clock has been in action for the major leagues. But in that week there have been multiple controversial moments. The pitch clock struck in the first game when star San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado was called for a pitch-clock violation. He was not ready in the batters box before the 8-second mark on the pitch clock, which warrants a strike against the batter. The clock starts at fifteen seconds when the bases are empty (but the batter has to be ready in 8 seconds), so a batter has more time to be in his stance than to prepare for what is coming. Due to that, Machado later said, “I might be down 0-1 a lot this year.” 

Many other players have been called for a pitch-clock violation, even in a very crucial moment. The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox were in a tied game at six a piece in the bottom of the ninth. The bases were loaded, two outs, in a full count. Then Braves shortstop, Cal Conley, was called for a pitch-clock violation. That ended the game in a tie because spring training has no extra innings. It is clear that the batters are at a clear disadvantage.

The whole point of the pitch clock was to attract more viewers with shorter games, but those viewers won’t stay when the offense gets worse.

Star New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer said he loves the new rules and that pitchers “dictate the pace.” Dictating the pace allows the pitcher to get into the batter’s head. Pitchers also benefit from a faster pace because the batters can’t think fast enough or process what the pitcher is thinking/planning on throwing. Yankees reliever, Wandy Peralta, struck out Pirates Tucapita Marcano in around 20 seconds. Last year 20 seconds would mean about one pitch.

Another advantage the pitchers have is the punishment they receive for a violation. When a pitcher violates the pitch clock, the batter is given a ball. Since pitchers need four balls for the batter to walk and only three strikes for a batter to strike out, the pitchers are at an advantage. The penalty for the pitcher is a lot lighter than for the batter, should they violate the pitch clock.

The final complaint people have is how much shorter the games are with the new rules. It’s weird that it was a complaint by the fans since the rule was implemented because people complained games were too long. The average time of a MLB game last year was three hours and three minutes. Most of that time was filled with nothing, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wanted to cut down the dead time. He figured the more action with less dead time would result in more viewership. We can’t confirm if that will result in more viewership, because it still is spring training. But one thing spring training has shown us so far is that the pitch clock is definitely making games shorter. The average game time has been cut down by nearly half an hour, all the way to 2 hours and 39 minutes.

Due to social media outrage by fans, it’s clear that the support isn’t fully there from the baseball fan base If the end result is for more fans of baseball, why would they enjoy less baseball? The MLB isn’t attracting real baseball fans if they are only coming because there is less of it.

The pitch clock hasn’t been around for long, but it doesn’t take long for there to be problems with it. These problems will be recurring and will not lead to the result that the MLB is envisioning. The time is running out for the MLB pitch clock.


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