It’s no secret that baseball is declining in popularity and that the big reason for that decline is that the game moves too slowly for people these days.
For me, a person who played the game up until the sixth grade, grew up with game and is now starting to cover it, I don’t mind the relaxed pace of the game, for a multitude of reasons; however, I can understand where others grow frustrated with it.
One of the biggest areas of time delay is the time between pitches. The pitcher looks into the catcher. The batter steps out of the box to adjust his batting gloves and helmet. The pitcher then steps off or throws to another base and the whole process repeats.
Yeah, it does get kinda boring.
In an effort to reduce this “time wasting,” Major League Baseball is trying out a “pitch clock” in Double-A and Triple-A. There pitchers will likely have 12 seconds to throw when no one is on base and 20 seconds when someone is on base, as it was in the Arizona Fall League this past year.
I’m not sure this is the right answer for baseball, but given the fact that a change is needed, MLB shouldn’t be punished for trying something to alleviate the situation.
First off, this experiment tackles the biggest issue with baseball’s slowness. How many times do you see a pitcher just nonchalantly throw the ball to first with a runner on to a chorus of boos from the opposing fans? That part, I will admit, is boring. Plus, how many times will a pitcher just shake off a catcher’s signals, ask to run through it again and then call for a meeting on the mound. That takes up a lot of time, and anything that will change it and make it speed up has to be good for the sport.
Also, the game needs to be sped up a bit in order to keep up with the pace of other games. With the hurry up offense phenomenon in football, the pace of hockey and the growing popularity of soccer, since it hardly has any commercial breaks and provides non-stop action, baseball has to make a move in order to keep up with them. Casual fans have to have action at least a quicker pace than what baseball provides, whether the purists of the sport cares or not.
Speaking of purists, I understand some of the worry that a pitch clock will ruin the game. Baseball isn’t built on time. There’s no running to call timeouts as the clock runs down. That’s what makes it different than the other popular sports. And I admit that I’m not a 100 percent fan of the pitch clock.
But Major League Baseball has to do something about the pace of the game to make it quicker–not super fast, but just a bit quicker–in order to keep the casual fans and bring in new fans to stabilize and build the popularity of the game.
This experiment may turn out to be a total failure, but no one can blame MLB for trying.