In case I haven’t mentioned it before baseball is my favorite of the four major North American sports. And for the 2023 season, Major League Baseball (MLB) has made some rule changes in order to speed up the pace of the typical MLB game. With about 3 weeks of the regular season and a film spring campaign completed, I figure now is a good time to assess said rule changes.
1. The pitch clock. I like it! It does exactly what MLB MLB intended for it to do. Namely, the pitch clock speeds up the pace of play in your typical 9 inning game. In my own, informal observations, most games have needed in less than 2 1/2 hours. Previously the average game had crept above 3 hours as recently as last season. Furthermore, there have been a few games that ended in less than 2 hours
Those critical of the pro h clock are saying things like “the game has lost something” or “it’s not the game that I fell in live with”. To those people, I ask “what exactly has the game lost?” Players grabbing themselves. Hitters going through their at-bat routine after EACH pitch. Pitcher doing likewise with their pitching routine. Pitchers making numerous throws to first base in a usually-futile attempt to pick off a runner. pitchers shaking off numerous pitch calls from their catcher.
I’m sorry. I don’t miss that stuff. To me, that takes away from the game. To be honest, I like the idea of knowing that a game will be over in less than 3 hours. Keep in mind also, that that is not an absolute. They’re still three strikes to an out and three outs to every half-inning. The only thing the game has lost has been most of the dead time.
2. The larger bases – when I first heard about the larger bases I immediately assumed it was in order to increase office in the game, namely, to cut down on the time between bases for runners. This is partially true. Another reason for the larger bases being a player safety. Larger bases, give the fielders a little extra room as to cut down on collisions and entanglements with runners. The safety factor alone justifies the larger bases. Any additional running and run product toon they provide is just icing in the cake.
3. Banning “the shift” – I must admit that I was opposed to this change initially. Until spring trading this season I was of the mindset of “maybe the players just need to learn how to hit to the opposite field again”. But even in spring training, we saw teams already finding ways to skirt the shift rule. But like the. Higher bases, if it increases offense in the game, I’m all for it. Over the last few years baseball has become too much of a “home run or strike out” game.
I’m don’t think that any of these new rules are irreversible or set in stone. I think the pitch clock is here to stay, even if it’s tweaked an it over the next few years. Once the game becomes too offensively lopsided, we may see the shift ban be repealed. But I will say this: I am a baseball junkie, and I have probably watched more baseball in this first month than I have in the last several previous Aprils .