Now on the Clock: Baseball
I’m going to start this one off with a story.
The year was 2017. My beep baseball team, the Boston Renegades, were down in West Palm Beach, Florida at the National Beep Baseball Association World Series. It was the second day of the tournament, we only had one game that day. We were playing our east coast rival the Long Island Bombers. I was at bat and had 1 strike on me. On the next pitch I connected and hit a high fly ball down the first base line. It landed in fair territory and rolled for a while. Eventually, it rolled into foul territory and the ump called it appropriately.
Unfortunately for me, I was 85% down the baseline and I had to make the long trek back to the plate. Needless to say, it was a little warm in Florida in late July. So I decided to take my sweet time coming back to the plate. As I strolled back, a coach on my team grabbed the ball that rolled towards our bench, and tossed it back to our pitcher. I made it back to the plate and started my pre-pitch routine.
I was just about to start the cadence and continue the at bat, when all of a sudden I heard, “Strike 3. The batter is out.” I immediately then turned to the source of the sound, giving the dirtiest look I could muster up, which was pointless due to the blindfold I was wearing. One of my coaches simply said, “What are you talking about?” Apparently, in beep baseball, you have 30 seconds to get to the plate and start your swing process. If you don’t do it in time, you get a strike. I was totally unaware of this rule and was obviously quite upset.
Thankfully, my team has a great coaching staff and they took up the fight for me. Which led to one of the funniest lines ever said on a beepball field. I’ll summarize it here by telling you that one of our coaches compared an official to a metronome.
Why am I telling you this story? First and foremost, because I think it’s funny and y’all clicked on the link so you have to read it now. Of course there is another reason I told you that story.
Major League Baseball, the oldest and stuffiest of the major sports leagues, made a rule change that has people divided. MLB has added a pitch clock in an attempt to make a long, tedious game move just a tad bit faster.
As I said, this rule change has been a little divisive for hardcore baseball fans. And as you can imagine, some media members have a lot to say about it.
Ben Brewster of TreadHQ, a remote baseball coaching company had this to say on Twitter, “Is the pitch clock good for anyone besides casual fans who can't sit through a full game? So many subtle aspects of the game are lost as pitchers & hitters rush through their craft to appease the casual fans.” My response to Ben’s question is an emphatic hell yeah. Baseball is trying to capture some of the “casual” fans. The average young person watches almost zero baseball. It would be a great idea to change a simple thing and speed things up.
Also, nobody is making players “rush through their craft.” Unlike me in West Palm Beach, the players knew this was happening. They had an entire offseason to prepare their “routines.” As a matter of fact, pitch clocks have been in the minor leagues for a number of years. So a lot of these players should be used to it.
DraftKings’ baseball expert and self proclaimed “Tribal Chief of Baseball” Tweeted this, “Not gonna lie, the pitch clock gives me anxiety.” Isn’t that a good thing in sports? It creates excitement.
It’s obvious to me that age plays a big factor in whether you like the pitch clock or not. So I decided to ask someone with lots of “life experience” about the rule change. So I sent an email to Boston sports staple and friend of Blind Owl Blogs Dan Shaughnessy. I simply ask my good buddy Dan for a quick quote about the pitch clock. I expected him to say something about the integrity of the game, or tradition. Instead, Dan quickly responded with one sentence that honestly surprised me. Dan said, “It makes the game faster and I am for that.” Wow. Even an older gentleman thinks it’s good for baseball to pick up the pace a little.
It seems simple to me. It makes the game faster. It’s a good thing. Even sports business analyst and world renowned African American memorabilia collector Darren Rovell chimed in, “MLB’s new pitch clock is going to cut 10-12% off elapsed game time. Sorry purists, it’s a necessary innovation.” 10-12% is a lot of time. When some of these games can be 4 hours long, that means cutting out roughly a half an hour. I’d say that’s a positive thing. Nobody wants to watch a game that, let’s face it, can be a little slow, for 4 hours.
Now that I’ve given you others opinions, I’ll give you what you came for.
The pitch clock is obviously a great thing. Young people these days don’t have the attention span to sit for a 4 hour baseball game. Hell, they don’t even have the attention span to play baseball in my gym classes. So how could trying to cater the younger crowd ever be a bad thing? It’ll bring in money. And there’s nothing baseball players love more than money.
I know it’s been said before, but the average age of baseball fans goes up and up every year. Instead of resisting fresh, young ideas, MLB should be like my friend Dan Shaughnessy and dive right into them. It’ll be good for the game. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, MLBs fan base is coming close to dying off. It’s simple Darwinism. Either adjust, or die.