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Time enough at last: Musings on the pitch clock

Baseball’s proactive move pays big dividends

Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Some of my favorite entertainment over the years has involved time manipulation...

The best time-travel tales require a reconfiguration of one’s approach to chronology. This season, Major League Baseball has been redefining time in its own way by introducing the pitch clock. While cautiously optimistic about the change, I didn’t know exactly what it would look or feel like. After nearly a month of play, my verdict is in:

The pitch clock is a resounding success that has re-invigorated my nightly baseball routine!

As a Minnesota Twins—and baseball-in-general—die hard fan, my April-September nights usually involve “the ballgame” (as my grandmother says). While I love baseball and wouldn’t have it any other way, such a practice does represent a large time commitment. In recent years—roughly 2018+—I felt my engagement waning for an entire televised game. I grew up in a pre-Internet, pre-smartphone world so device distraction isn’t the culprit for me. It was more that games were routinely going past the 3-hour mark and often approaching 3:30. I don’t care if you grew up with Hi-Fi or Wi-Fi—that’s a long time for a 162-games-a-year sport.

Now? The pitch clock has cut back normal, 9-inning games to roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes—and that feels perfect. A pitcher’s duel might finish quicker and a slugfest may take a few more ticks, but 2:40 as the median has been wonderful for this baseball enthusiast—allowing the game to be watched and other life pursuits to be enjoyed.

A key factor in all this: games are still nine innings. Nothing has been excised and the sport’s integrity doesn’t seem to have suffered for it. It’s still the baseball I’ve known and loved all my life—now with an improved pace-of-play!

Perhaps the most interesting pitch-clock observation I’ve had thus far is that it seems to help pitchers more than the batters they face. I would have assumed the opposite, what with hurlers initiating the action and thus facing the brunt of potential penalties. But after seeing Twins games where aces Sandy Alcantara & Gerrit Cole got into a rhythm and proved nearly un-hittable, the old Warren Spahn adage rings true:

Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.

Milwaukee Braves
A guy who knew a thing or two (or 363) about pitching

Besides the immediate gratification of shrinking games to reasonable-yet-still-satisfying lengths, a bigger lesson here might be that proactive approaches to MLB issues are necessary at times. Baseball fans have long leaned into tradition or history, often to the exclusion of interesting ideas or solutions. But in an era where analytics and high-tech cameras have micro-analyzed every inch of the playing surface and its denizens, more radical or creative notions are needed to keep the sport viable to a viewing public.

Not long ago, I wrote about how professional football had replaced baseball as my favorite sport. I can honestly say that MLB’s pitch clock might have already swung me back to the diamond—admittedly where my heart has wanted to be all along.


Your opinion on the pitch clock...

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    I love it!
    (115 votes)
  • 9%
    Ehh—I can take it or leave it
    (12 votes)
  • 3%
    Get off my lawn!
    (4 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now