As the Hot Stove is slower than molasses in January, all eyes have turned to the pitch clock – even the Baltimore Orioles.
Despite what Buck Showalter from the Baltimore Orioles has to say about the pitch clock, it seems like a completely unnecessary addition to the game.
In an article by Eduardo A. Encina in the Baltimore Sun, Showalter had a few words to say about the impending pace-of-play changes.
"He said: “It’s a good move. It’s not going to affect the pitchers. It’s going to affect the hitters, and if we can take the game from three-plus [hours] to under three, it’s a better game.”"
It’s baseball, not McDonald’s
As a fan who loves to go to baseball games at stadiums all over the country, I have to disagree with Showalter. Baseball is not a drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant. It is a place where fans go to watch the game and relax. If a game goes long, that’s just part of the game. Tickets to baseball games are expensive, so I’m ok games being three hours or more. I’ve even been to a minor league game that went into extra innings and ended in a tie because it had to be stopped for the players’ curfew!
Tom Verducci explains the latest proposed rules in an article in Sports Illustrated.
One of the proposed rules involves limiting mound visits to six per game. Mound visits are already managed by a time limit that was strictly enforced. But, if the game goes into extra innings, teams might need more than six visits. By denying this opportunity to pitchers and catchers, the game could be affected.
The other potential rule change is to implement a 20-second pitch clock. Yes, most pitchers can get their pitch thrown within that time, but those who cannot, cannot for a reason. This is part of what makes baseball so great – there are so many different styles of play. If a guy needs 22 seconds, he should not be penalized for it.
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Pitch clock won’t attract fans
If this is the only solution that Rob Manfred can devise to attract younger viewers to the game, then he is out of touch with young people who could be attracted to the game. Consider the latest World Series, which had one of the shortest games in history and one of the longest, too. The first game, which lasted two hours and 28 minutes was way too short. The longest game was Game Five, which lastest five hours and 18 minutes. It was an unforgettable game. Even game seven in the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and Indians was long and unforgettable.
Watch kids at the ballpark
Instead of cutting out a few minutes of every game, Rob Manfred and the MLB should be focused on the players and fan interaction. As the parent of a 14-year-old son who loves the game, one of his favorite things to do is interact with players and get their autographs. He follows them on social media and talks about them with his friends. He emulates their swings and he has friends who emulate their favorite pitchers’ wind-ups and deliveries. His friends eat, sleep, and breath baseball. They use the MLB At-Bat app and they wear their favorite players’ jerseys. They buy gear that their favorite players use.
Increase player interaction
Kids like my son are the future of the game. He doesn’t care about getting out of a game faster. He wants to see his favorite players play. That personalized experience of following his favorite players, getting their autographs, and learning from their style of play is what draws young fans. What my son does care about is how teams are extending their safety nets because that creates a barrier that prevents him from interacting with the players. He wishes people would get off their phones and watch the games (but this is a conversation for another day).
If Manfred wants to attract young fans, he should interact with them. Kids like my 14-year-old son would love to offer their ideas. And, I can tell you that a pitch clock would not be on his list or his friends’ lists.