With spring breaking out, all sports fans rejoice for one of the most anticipated days of the year, Opening Day. The sun is shining, and a new baseball season is upon us, but not without a few rule changes. The controversial new ‘pitch clock’ has divided fans.
Most dramatic pitch clock countdown EVER! ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/J039BQimEy
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 11, 2023
The addition of the pitch clock has created a 15-second timer that starts once the pitcher gets the ball from the catcher. The time is increased to 20-seconds if there is a runner on base. The batter must be ready in the box and ready to hit with at least eight seconds remaining on the clock. If the hitter is not ready, it will count as an automatic strike. If the pitcher is not ready at this time, it will count as an automatic ball. Each batter will get one timeout every time they go up to bat. The pitcher will also get two ‘disengagements’ per batter, which allows them to step off the mound or take a pickoff attempt.
The first four days of the MLB season, by the numbers:
Time of game
2023: 70 of 84 (83.3%)
2022: 29 of 43 (67.4%)
Pitch clock violations
2023: 40 (0.8 per game)
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 3, 2023
The main goal for the addition of the pitch clock is to speed up the average time of the game, cutting out sections of time when players would be standing around. Commissioner Rob Manfred explained that there was lots of time between each pitch, sometimes upwards of 30 seconds of players doing absolutely nothing. The 2019, 2020, 2021 seasons had the three highest average game time, coming in around 3:05. With the implementation of this new rule, early spring games have already been shortened to almost two and half hours.
Major League Baseball has hit a home run it appears. A series of rule changes have pumped much-needed life back into the game and produced a product that analysts say make the game vastly more enjoyable and watchable for both casual and diehard fans. https://t.co/VFWLjkI4xS
— CBC News (@CBCNews) April 16, 2023
This isn’t to say that most fans have been accepting of the new rule. It seems that much of the older generation of MLB fans are not supportive of pitch clock. This would of course make sense as games could run for as long as four hours in some cases. I believe that one of the biggest changes comes for the players. Having a pitch clock gives pitchers less time to analyze and read what is happening at home base with his catcher and the batter. Although it may seem like a short decrease in time, the players end up having to rush their cadence before getting used to the change.
Shohei Ohtani: 1st Player ever to have a Pitch Clock Violation as a Pitcher AND Hitter. 🍾
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 5, 2023
On the other hand, the new generation of baseball fans have already shown a liking to the new rule. In a time of short attention spans, the pitch clock helps to keep the game moving and promises more action with less waiting. I for one can say that I enjoy having the pitch clock as it keeps me more enticed with the game. Baseball can be considered a ‘boring’ sport to some because of its slow nature, but I personally think a rule like this helps fix this problem and keeps the pace of the game at a higher level.
Although the pitch clock is getting a split audience reaction, it is no secret that the MLB viewership is benefiting so far this season. Opening Day brought in a total of 172 million minutes watched on MLB.tv, completely breaking the previous record of 121 million minutes. That’s about a 42% increase in viewership from the 2021 Opening Day. On other platforms, Fox Sports is already up 10% and ESPN had an 11% increase from last year’s numbers. Viewership is up all across the board, exactly what the league was hoping for. It will take some time to see if these numbers hold up over more seasons, but it’s a great start, nonetheless.